Softball reporting

Examining the interview with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

PA PRIME MINISTER Salam Fayyad sworn in 370 (photo credit: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)
PA PRIME MINISTER Salam Fayyad sworn in 370
(photo credit: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)
O n January 18, The Jerusalem Post Magazine featured an interview with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Fayyad, characterized by softball questions that provided him with an opportunity to evade any response that might shine a light on inconvenient topics and expose his actual policies. Instead of challenging the veracity of misleading answers, the interviewer allowed them to pass, depriving readers access to real facts as opposed to the notions that Fayyad wanted to propagate. Here are 20 questions that the interviewer could have asked Fayyad: 1. You define all areas taken by Israel in 1967 as illegally “occupied.” Who occupied this territory between 1948 and 1967? Was it not the Jordanians? Was their occupation legal? Where was the Palestinian Arab state then? 2. You assert that Jerusalem must be your capital. Does your deliberate omission of the phrase “east Jerusalem” mean that you will not be satisfied until all of Jerusalem is under your control? In your position paper, “Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State: Program of the Thirteenth Government – August 2009” you are on record as stating that you define all of Jerusalem as your capital.
Can we presume that this remains your goal today? Please clarify.
3. You know that your opposition to the E1 development between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim is a red herring. Nothing is likely to be started there for quite some time. In the interim, if you were serious, you could negotiate a satisfactory solution.
Why do you not do so? 4. Why, despite all the gestures made by Israel, including a 10-month settlement freeze, have you not entered into any serious negotiations? Why are you refusing to deal with the democratically elected government of Israel? Are you instead waiting for the international community to force concessions from one side only? 5. You admit that the absence of any elections by the PA needs to be addressed. Surely you must acknowledge that blaming Israel for this state of affairs instead of admitting that democracy as it is normally defined may be absent from the Palestinian Arab experience, could be the root of the problem. 6. How do you respond to charges that mismanagement and corruption have led to the financial crises of the Palestinian Authority, an entity that has received more than $20 billion in foreign aid since its inception? 7. Why blame the “occupation” and refusal of donor nations to bail you out? Why should the international community and, indeed, your fellow Arab regimes continue to pour endless millions into your coffers when all this money achieves is the continuation of a bloated administration? 8. In your position, you endorse the absolute right of return for the five million descendants of Arab refugees who have wallowed in the indignity of UNRWA refugee facilities since 1949. You know that the return to villages lost in 1948 remains an illusion that will never occur. With humanitarian concerns of fellow Palestinian Arabs in your heart, why do you not galvanize an international campaign to improve the living conditions of those who have lived in squalid refugee conditions for three generations and give them the option to resettle in better conditions, instead of perpetuating “Palestinian refugee status” for yet a fourth generation? 9. In the light of the oppression of descendants of Palestinian Arabs who live in UNRWA refugee facilities in Syria, will you join in international efforts to rescue and resettle these Palestinian Arab people in distress? 10. Why are you so silent about the ongoing mass murders in Syria? 11. You express enthusiasm at the recent Fatah celebrations in Gaza, where President Mahmoud Abbas spoke on a large video conference screen. Why do you omit the fact that Abbas used that occasion to exalt the actions of a dozen Arab “martyrs” who murdered Jews? 12. Why do you not mention that Abbas concluded his address with a call to embrace the legacy of the mufti of Jerusalem, who, from the 1930s onwards, worked hand in glove with the Nazis to murder the Jews of Palestine? Would you comment on the embrace of an unrepentant Nazi by your president? What message does Abbas’s glorification of an unpunished war criminal convey to your people? 13. How can you form an alliance with Hamas and then claim that this will help the so-called peace process? Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has clearly declared that his administration intends to establish a military academy for training youngsters to liberate all of Palestine from the river to the sea. Does this not contradict your endorsement of peaceful relations with the Jewish state? 14. Why does the curriculum of PA schools, under your direct control, continue to demonize Israel and inculcate war against Israel, Jews and Judaism? 15. Why does the PBC media, under your direct control, spew forth a daily message to liberate all of Palestine? 16. How do you prepare your people for a future in which respect and coexistence with Israel will be the norm? 17. Why do you not encourage those who wish to have a genuine dialogue with Israel? What steps are you taking against those who threaten and murder brave Palestinian Arabs who do business with Israel? 18. Why do spread the libel of “apartheid” Israel when you know full well that Israel is the only country in the region where civil rights are fully protected by law? 19. Instead of threatening to disband the PA every time you do not get your way, wouldn’t it be better to admit that the current corrupt arrangement is responsible for your woes and that some sort of alternative should be considered? Perhaps it is time to admit that the whole charade of an independent Palestinian Arab state in its present location has failed. Have you considered that in fact a quasi-Palestinian Arab state already exists in Jordan? Perhaps this is the best solution to the current mess.
20. You are on record as stating that your Palestinian Arab state will be Islamic. Given the record of other Islamic states in the field of human rights and their lack of respect for faiths other than Islam, how can you expect any Jew, Christian, Hindu or Bahai to be supportive? If you are striving for an Islamic Palestinian Arab state, why are you so opposed to Israel being called a Jewish state?
David Bedein is the director of the Center for Near East Policy Research. Michael Kuttner works for Israel Resource News Agency and for Kiwis for Honest Reporting, a New Zealand-based media advocacy organization.