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August 3, 2016 2:13 pm

PA Media Expert: Abbas’ Declaration of ‘Freedom of Opinion, Speech Day in Palestine’ a Case of ‘Turning Truth Upside Down’

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PA President Abbas with International Federation of Journalists Deputy Secretary-General Jeremy Dear in Ramallah. Photo: Facebook.

The head of an Israel-based research organization ridiculed PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday for “creating, as policy, a virtual reality in which all truth is turned upside down.”

Itamar Marcus, founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), was referring to a report in the official PA daily on Tuesday that Abbas had declared that he was going “to strengthen the freedom of the press in the Arab world, and decided that August 1 will be Freedom of Opinion and Speech Day in Palestine.”

Expanding on his critique, Marcus told The Algemeiner: “Marwan Barghouti is a Palestinian mass murderer of Israelis, so Abbas decides to have him nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Abbas’ PA TV for kids teaches that Jews are the enemies of Allah, and his mufti teaches that the role of Muslims is to bring about the extermination of Jews. Yet his PA accuses Israel of initiating a religious war.”

Where freedom of the press is concerned, Marcus said, “The PA media is owned and controlled by the PA, and its directors are appointed by Abbas himself. Palestinians have been arrested for posting messages critical of Abbas and the PA on Facebook. And now Abbas is presenting himself as a defender of free speech. If Abbas is considering having a free media, he has to start by limiting himself and his control. If he does not do so, this is just another example of his purposely presenting a stance that is diametrically opposed to the truth.”

The PMW translation of the article in which Abbas’ initiative was announced reads as follows:

Headline: “Palestine initiates: The president lays the cornerstone for the advancement of freedom of the press in the Arab world – Mahmoud Abbas decides that August 1 will be Freedom of Opinion and Speech Day in Palestine

“[PA] President Mahmoud Abbas signed a declaration yesterday [Aug. 2, 2016] to strengthen the freedom of the press in the Arab world, and decided that August 1 will be Freedom of Opinion and Speech Day in Palestine.

“This was during the president’s meeting with a delegation from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah. The delegation included Deputy Secretary-General of the Federation Jeremy Dear…

“The president’s signature on the declaration constituted a historical event on the Palestinian level and on the Arab level, and it laid the foundation on which the Arabs will continue to build…

“Echoes of this signature, initiated by President Abbas – the first Arab president to do so – will spread to Arab states and the [entire] world, and its fruits will be reaped by Arab journalists, who have been calling for the guarantee of freedom of opinion and speech for a long time.

“The deputy secretary-general of the IFJ emphasized that President Abbas’ signature on the declaration to strengthen the freedom of the press, when [Palestine] is the first state to do this, is a historic day for freedom of the press in Palestine and the Arab world.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 3, 2016]

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Tuesday wrote that Abbas “became the first Arab leader to sign the Declaration on Media Freedom in the Arab World at a meeting in Ramallah with officials from the IFJ and Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS)” and “warmly welcomed the President’s and prime minister’s commitment to work with the PJS and civil society organisations to extend media freedom and the rights of journalists.”

The IFJ described the declaration as  “a clear commitment to the principles of media freedom, independent journalism and the right to information,” and “the first step to establishing a Special Mechanism for Media Freedom in the region to uphold the principles contained in the Declaration.”

Among the principles listed are: “Freedom of expression; freedom of information; journalists’ safety; media law reform; self-regulation; equality; hate speech and intolerance; and independence of public service broadcasters.”


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  • Yale

    “[PA] President Mahmoud Abbas signed a declaration yesterday [Aug. 2, 2016] to strengthen the freedom of the press in the Arab world, and decided that August 1 will be Freedom of Opinion and Speech Day in Palestine.”

    Did anyone else notice that Abbas’s announcement that Aug 1 would be the day on which the press would be free in Palestine was dated Aug 2? With Aug 1 already past, the PA could resume its normal suppression of the media.

  • ita

    Right announce a day after the day that it will happen mayb4e12 months from now. All smoke and mirrors. This oF course that since Mohammed till August 1st 2916 there was no Freedom.

  • HP Ben Zion

    No surprise here. Abbas continues telling lies diametrically opposed to the truth such as did one of his filthy predecessors, Yassir Arafat. The narcissist Abbas simply wants to maintain control for his own personal enrichment, like all dictators. There is a G-d who will judge him, and it will be a harsh judgment. I repeat what Bibi said: “If the Arabs laid down their arms in the Middle East, there would be peace. If the Israelis were to do so, Israel would be immediately annihilated by the (hateful) leaders of the Arabs” ….this is paraphrased.

  • nat cheiman

    Media freedom for palestinians? And pigs will fly

  • Abbas is a pathetic use for a leader and a human being!! There is nothing that we can say about him as it is not worth the effort and will not change him from the lying savage that he is.

  • Do I really read that one of the guiding principles is “hate speech and intolerance ” ? Well, they are really excellent at THAT.
    Does this mean that the lady who was hiding from the authorities after criticizing ABBAS over education, can now come out ? That the teachers arrested for protesting their not being paid, will be released ?

  • Lia

    Sounds as sincere as the Democrats do when they talk about the right of all children to health.

  • Jonah

    Was Obama a Palestinian? He parrots Abbas and everything he says is upside down or an outright lie. Obama wants Israel annhilated are their beliefs just something that flows in the veins of all jihadists. How can Obama and Abbas be so similar on all issues maybe their twins maybe Abbas is won of the sons of Obamas fathers many wife’s.

    • Philip

      Stupid and angry, beneath what anyone would expect on this site. Either grow up, get smart or desist from commenting on this site

  • Jay Lavine

    Another case of the pot calling the kettle black, a common affliction.

    Freedom of the press is not enough, however. Freedom must be tempered by self-control and ethical behavior. If a free press engages in the dissemination of one-sided and biased information, then the freedom is being used in the service of evil, not of good. The European press vis a vis Israel is a good example of that.

    The press must not have an ax to grind. It must not try to control the narrative. It must present, as Sergeant Joe Friday used to say, “Just the facts, ma’am.” For the uninformed, the definition of “fact” is “a true statement.” And that’s what we need: the plain, unadorned, unembellished truth, free of ideolotrous influences.