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October 1998 
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MER - WASHINGTON - 24 October:

The level of repression in Palestine has never been higher -- not under the British, not under the Jordanians, not under the more direct pre-Oslo Israeli occupation. The double-occupation of Yasser Arafat is turning and twisting Palestinians society into its most fearful, despondent, and fractured state ever.

Palestinians in the "autonomous" population centers are more and more afraid to speak, not only to journalists but even among themselves as there are now so many informers and paid agents among them. This grand repression was plotted all along by the Israelis. And year by year they have managed to draw in the Americans and the Europeans to provide the Arafat regime with the instruments and the means to do the dirty job of stomping all over his own people.

And now, coming out from behind-the-scenes where it has operated for some time, the CIA -- along with the Israeli Mossad and Shinbet and the Jordanian Muhabarat -- is taking charge. Essentially this grand conspiracy is aimed at the destruction of real Palestinian nationalism even while allowing Arafat to orate and pretend just the opposite.

Bottom line: All challenges to Israeli/American hegemony in the region, and all challenges to the system of client-regimes who miserably oppress their own people while pursuing their alliances with the West and Israel, are to be infiltrated and quashed more than ever.

Palestinian journalists and activists have been repeatedly threatened, arrested, and in a few cases tortured, ever since Arafat and his exiles returned to take over -- all with Israeli and American arms and money. All independent publications have been snuffed out in recent years. Leading academics and intellectuals have been black-listed. Travel and visa restrictions have also been used and manipulated to push collaborators forward, while pushing honest and independent persons under.

Journalists and public personalities already have been forced to practice a growing degree of individual self-censorship. And now with "Oslo III" the screws are being turned a few more notches.

Last month Arafat's musicians went on strike. Showing them who's boss Arafat even had them arrested; only releasing them after they promised to keep their mouths shut other than when blowing their instruments for his grand arrival ceremonies.

Now the Journalists are fed up -- and rightly so. This AP story is just the tip of the story about how bad things have gotten.



JERUSALEM (AP - 10/24) -- Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip decided Saturday to go on strike to protest restrictions by the Palestinian Authority on their news coverage.

The move came a day after Palestinian police detained a dozen journalists in Gaza City who were waiting to interview Sheik Ahmed Yassin, spiritual leader of the Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas, about the signing of a new Mideast peace deal.

The journalists were told that effective immediately, they needed permission from the Palestinian Authority to cover events dealing with politics or security, thereby restricting access to both Palestinian officials and opposition figures like Yassin.

The Gaza City-based Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate said in a statement Saturday its members would not accept the restrictions and had decided to halt news coverage of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza in retaliation.

The statement also called on the Palestinian security apparatus to stop any mistreatment of reporters and asked that all international press groups pressure the Palestinian leadership to respect press freedom.

Journalists also planned to hold a sit-in at the syndicate until the curbs were rescinded.

There was no immediate comment from Palestinian officials.

All the detained journalists were forced to hand over their equipment, including mobile phones, tape recorders and cameras.

They were also told to appear at police headquarters on Saturday, but a representative of syndicate went instead.




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