Commentary Magazine


The Palestinian Facebook Police

Some staffers and diplomats at the State Department with time on their hands are, no doubt, working hard right now to come up with a legal rationale for continuing U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority. The consummation of the Fatah-Hamas unity pact earlier this week and the impending ouster of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad ought to make any further assistance to Mahmoud Abbas’s rogue regime legally and morally untenable. But in case apologists for keeping U.S. taxpayer dollars flowing to terrorists pledged to Israel’s destruction are paying attention, even before the new unity government takes office there are plenty of reasons to think seriously about American subsidies for the corrupt and tyrannical PA.

While many Americans are obsessing about human rights elsewhere in the Arab world, it appears the American-funded PA is practicing its own brand of tyranny. The Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh reports the Palestinian security forces are now monitoring Facebook posts by residents of the West Bank and taking those who make critical remarks about the PA’s leadership in for questioning. Because Palestinians know all too well the armed gunmen who report to Abbas and his underlings are Fatah thugs and not genuine law enforcement officers, the upshot of is only nice things are going to be said there about Abbas.

The idea that the PA respected the human rights of those Palestinians who were placed under its care by the Oslo Accords was always something of a fantasy. But since the death of Yasir Arafat, many here have clung to the notion that Abbas was an improvement. But that was always more a matter of apparel than anything else, because Americans find it hard to believe a man who wears a suit to work like Abbas can be just as much of a despot as one who wore fatigues like Arafat.

Given the low standards set for human rights and governance by Abbas’s predecessor one might think Internet censorship is the least of the problems of ordinary Palestinians. But in the absence of a PA government that respects the rule of law, peace with Israel or even a civil Palestinian society will remain a distant dream.