Michael Totten

Palestinian Journalists Blacklistsed

Those who believe peace in the Middle East may be just around the corner need to think long and hard about this.

Palestinian journalists who last week met with their Israeli colleagues and an IDF spokesman in Tel Aviv have come under fire from both Hamas and Fatah.

The trip was arranged by the non-profit Israel advocacy group The Israel Project, whose Web site described the group as “an international non-profit organization devoted to educating the press and the public about Israel while promoting security, freedom and peace.”

The journalists met with Maj. Avichai Edri, head of the Arabic-language branch of the IDF Spokesman’s Office.

Three of the journalists — Lana Shaheen, Mueen al-Hilu and Abdel Salam Abu Askar — are from the Gaza Strip, while another two are from the West Bank.

They now face expulsion from the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Journalists Syndicate on charges of promoting normalization with Israel.


One of the groups, the Democratic Press Association, called on the journalists to “repent” and express publicly apologize for visiting the “Zionist entity and meeting with Zionist reporters.”

No one has ever demanded I “repent” or apologize for visiting an Arab country or meeting with Arab spokesman or colleagues. I even lived in an Arab country and would do so again, and not a single American has ever accused me of being a traitor. I haven’t even been mildly criticized for it. I’m not Israeli, of course, but I know Israeli journalists who have worked in Arab countries and have Arab friends, and they don’t face these kinds of problems at home.

If I were blacklisted out of my profession for visiting, say, Lebanon or Iraq, I wouldn’t want to live in America anymore.