'The Independent' runs op-ed by alleged terror-supporting Amnesty employee

The op-ed, written by a West Bank resident, tells the somber tale of a friend who was unable to visit his dying mother in hospital, due to travel bans imposed on human rights workers.

A newspaper rack in the United Kingdom (photo credit: REUTERS)
A newspaper rack in the United Kingdom
(photo credit: REUTERS)
British-based periodical The Independent ran an opinion piece on December 27 authored by Saleh Hijazi, deputy regional director for Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa divisions, who has been categorized by Honest Reporting as a "terror-glorifying, war-crime-supporting anti-Israel activist in the clothing of a human rights worker."
The op-ed, written by the West Bank resident, tells the somber tale of a friend who was unable to visit his dying mother in hospital, due to travel bans imposed on human rights workers.
After a general description of the underlying situation which surrounds Palestinian travel restrictions, Hijazi leads off the piece recounting his journey from Ramallah to al-Aziriya to attend the woman's funeral.
Throughout, Hijazi paints a picture of his journey to represent Palestinian suffering in the West Bank – using colorful observations, interactions and obstacles he encountered along the way.
He leaves home at 9:30 a.m. to drop off his family at his in-laws' house, so he can be at the Beit El checkpoint by 10 a.m. when it opens, in order to leave the city of Ramallah.
"The whole way, I felt less like a driver in control of a vehicle and more like I was being led by the Israeli military from one destination to another, through this carefully constructed area," Hijazi wrote. "At the entrance to Bethany, three big signs in red warn Israelis that they are entering Palestinian areas, and that it is dangerous to do so."
On the road to al-Aziriya, Hijazi continued by describing what would be a somber road trip for Palestinian citizens - passing by unreachable Jewish West Bank settlements, countless barbed-wire fences as well as maneuvering through Israeli officers at military checkpoints. He even recounted the existence of a segregated road where Palestinian cars pass underneath Israeli traffic on an elevated overpass, described as an "apartheid road" among residents of the area.
Then he describes a phone call he placed while driving to his destination. He called his friend, writer Ahmed Masoud, to share his season's greetings with him and his family. Masoud is visiting the Gaza Strip for the first time in six years after emigrating to the United Kingdom to escape to the quality of life in the coastal enclave. To hit home, Hijazi describes Masoud's worries surrounding the holiday visit to Gaza with his family, adding that even though all the bureaucratic procedures have been completed, he is still unsure if he will ever get back home to the UK – "with good reason," according to Hijazi.
After arriving at the wake, Hijazi described the treatment the deceased had received before her passing. Hijazi stated that she had suffered from cancer, and repeatedly needed to make trips to an Israeli hospital to receive proper treatment. Each time, the woman would have to wait for the hospital to coordinate her travel through security checkpoints. As she arrived, the ambulance on the Palestinian side would drop her off and another on the Israeli side would pick her up to take her to the hospital.
In his recountment, Hijazi described conversations he had at the wake surrounding the mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody and the recent ruling passed down by the International Criminal Court accusing Israel of war crimes, as well as other Palestinian patients who have undergone treatment in Israel without the support of their families due to travel bans put on Palestinian citizens.
"For families like ours, even in the most personal and intimate stuff of life, Israel stands concretely in the middle [of everything]," Hijazi concluded. "It goes very deep, and it is very personal. It simply dominates all life."
Honest Reporting believes the depiction of the story, focusing on Palestinian suffering while lacking any mention of Israel's legitimate security concerns, is misleading and misinforms readers. In addition, the author's character raises serious concerns as well, considering that he has supported terror objectives in the past - all the while working for the famed human rights group Amnesty International.
Hijazi has committed numerous infractions over his tenure as an Amnesty employee, infractions that seem to intentionally link him to being a supporter of terrorism. Honest Reporting gave multiple examples to back their claim.
For starters, Hijazi at one point shared a picture on Facebook depicting a young Leila Khaled in black and white, a PFLP terrorist who was part of a team that hijacked an airplane on its way from Rome to Tel Aviv, diverting the flight to Damascus - en route asking the pilot to fly over Haifa, so she could see her birthplace. Then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was reportedly scheduled to be on the flight, but wasn't in the end. She was released during a prisoner exchange between the PFLP and Israeli authorities.
Hijazi has also displayed pictures of Khader Adnan, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who has repeatedly advocated for Palestinians to carry out suicide bombings and shootings against Israelis.
Secondly, Honest Reporting refers to a report by British research David Collier revealing that Hijazi shared a video in 2011 titled "Voices of Resistance," which shows Palestinian protesters tearing down a post of an Israeli Druze singer, "trampling and kicking the image of the singer’s face" in the process.
The singer was scheduled to sing that New Year's Eve in Ramallah, but cancelled due to backlash and threats stemming from Palestinians "opposing normalization" with Israelis.
The third example, also found in Collier's report, revealed that Hijazi is a member of the Shabaka Palestinian Policy Network.
"As the report notes, Al-Shabaka regularly accuses Israel of such crimes as genocide, ethnic cleansing and apartheid, and is a major platform for boycotting Israel activities," wrote the watchdog group. "Shabaka has also listed Ali Abunimah, the founder of Electronic Intifada, among its most prominent ‘sustaining donors.’ To make things absolutely clear, this means that Amnesty’s deputy director of MENA [Middle East and North Africa] sits on a policy panel partially funded by the founder of Electronic Intifada."
Finally, in 2012, Gidon Shaviv penned an op-ed revealing that Hajizi was listed as a contact for the NGO "Another Voice," whose slogan reads, "Resist! Boycott! We are Intifada!"
"While there are numerous issues with the op-ed, it’s important for readers to note how widely-read media outlets like The Independent help “human rights” organizations such as Amnesty International dress up terrorist supporters and violent activists as [being] dignified and righteous human rights defenders," Honest Reporting wrote. "Of course, we could also note that the real story is that Israel is allowing Palestinian civilians into its sovereign territory so that they may receive higher quality medical treatment, but we’re so used to the media ignoring Israel’s positive aspects that we may as well not bother.
"In what world does calling for a violent uprising of murderous violence – of glorifying plane hijackers and senior terrorists who advocate suicide bombing attacks, without appearing to recant – make a person a suitable candidate for a ‘human rights organization?' And in what world does a respectable media outlet allow itself to be used in the deception without drawing attention to such an individual’s shady past?" the reporting watchdog concluded. "A good story about Israel in The Independent? Perish the thought!"