A prominent Middle Eastern leader has been taking steps that undermine democracy, striking a blow at the values that Americans cherish and raising questions about whether the US should continue to have a special relationship with that regime.
But it’s not the Middle Eastern leader you may think.
While some Biden administration officials and media outlets have been falsely accusing Israel’s leaders of undermining democracy, Israel’s next-door neighbor has been doing just that – and nobody is saying a word about it.
How has the Palestinian Authority been trampling democracy?
The Palestinian Authority tramples democracy daily, systematically, and unapologetically. Don’t take my word for it. Just look at the reports published by left-of-center human rights groups that the Biden administration and its allies respect and trust.
According to Amnesty International’s most recent annual report, “Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continued to heavily restrict freedom of expression, association, and assembly. They also held scores of people in arbitrary detention and subjected many to torture and other ill-treatment. Justice for serious human rights violations remained elusive.”
What Human Rights Watch has to say about the Palestinian Authority is even more interesting, although you have to dig deep to find it.
According to HRW’s website: “The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza arbitrarily arrest dissidents and torture Palestinians in their custody.”
To find out more details, you need to go to HRW’s “World Report 2023” and scroll down to the part about the Palestinian Authority. In that all-too-brief section (just three paragraphs long), one learns about PA security forces beating a dissident to death, an atrocity for which “no one has been held to account.”
One also reads there that the PA’s laws “discriminated against women, including in relation to marriage, divorce, custody of children, and inheritance.” Moreover, “Palestine has no comprehensive domestic violence law.” (Why don’t international women’s rights groups protest about that?)
Then comes this final, intriguing note: “In the summer, several social and cultural events in the West Bank were canceled following threats against organizers.” Who made the threats? Who canceled the events? Human Rights Watch doesn’t say; instead, it links to a report by a Palestinian Arab advocacy group called al-Haq.
That al-Haq report complains about what it calls “the failure of the competent Palestinian authorities to provide protection for citizens, both male and female, and institutions, to enable them to exercise their legal right to expression without fear and anxiety.”
The al-Haq report, like the Human Rights Watch report, is maddeningly vague about who made those threats and who canceled those summer events, until near the very end of the report, when it suddenly reveals that the Palestinian police, instead of protecting the events and pursuing those who threatened them, instead canceled the events by “invoking the issue of ‘homosexual’ orientations.”
Gay rights groups everywhere should be up in arms. Yet they have said nothing. And the Biden administration, which has been outspoken in defense of gay rights, has been silent about this outrageous action by the PA police.
Imagine if gay-bashers made threats against a planned event in Israel, and the Israeli police responded by forcing the organizers to cancel the event because of “the issue of ‘homosexual’ orientations.”
Actually, you don’t have to wonder – because when a similar situation arose in Israel just last month, the Israeli government and police responded in the exact opposite way. Those who made threats against the annual pride parade in Jerusalem were arrested, and the parade proceeded with heavy police protection.
The fact that this information about the PA’s anti-democratic actions comes from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch is significant. Both Amnesty and HRW are hostile to Israel and deeply sympathetic to the Palestinian Arab cause. So if even they acknowledge these abuses by the PA, it’s safe to assume that the abuses are deliberate and widespread.
And I haven’t even mentioned the elections issue yet. Free and fair elections are the backbone of any democracy. But, has the Biden administration criticized PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas for remaining in office, 14 years after his term of office expired? Has the administration ever complained about the fact that the last election to the Palestinian parliament was held in 2006?
Has the administration ever reassessed its policy of sending hundreds of millions of dollars to the Palestinian Arabs every year?
I guess we all know the answers to those questions.
The writer is president-elect of the Religious Zionists of America. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995, and the author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.