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« The Camera Doesn't Lie, But What About the Caption? | Main | 5 Questions on Vote Rigging at Palestinian Journo Union »

Wednesday, February 10 2010

'I'm Unconvinced By Every Term I Draw On In My Reporting'

The problem: You and your Hamas colleagues are de facto rulers of Gaza after seizing the strip in a bloody coup more than two years ago.

But you feel delegitimized by news services which continue to describe Hamas as "the deposed government" because Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the national unity government and appointed Salam Fayyad to replace Ismail Haniyeh as Prime Minister.

The solution: Formally ban media references to the Hamas as Gaza's "deposed government."

Well, Hamas did just that, leaving Palestinian journalists stuck in the middle. Fares Akram of Xinhua describes the situation in a remarkably frank dispatch:

Fed up with the description, the deposed Hamas Information Ministry last month issued a statement aimed at "defining the accurate idioms and explaining the confusion in some of the terms in use."

"Saying the deposed government when referring to the Palestinian government in Gaza is a political usage, biased, illegal and distorting the truth," the Hamas statement said.

The statement offered journalists descriptions when talking about Hamas government. "We emphasize that you use alternative descriptions that are some sort of fair, like the Palestinian government in Gaza, the Palestinian government of Ismail Haneya or the government in Gaza."

According to Raed Lafi, some of the journalists are bound by terms their news agencies or newspapers guideline. "I'm unconvinced by every term I draw on in my reporting," he said.

Hamas and its apologists base much of its legitimacy on elections for a Parliament that recently expired. Abbas enjoys an open-ended presidency thanks to approval of the democratic bastion that is the PLO Central Council. In other words, Palestinian democracy is a mess.

Pondering who -- if anyone -- has a mandate to represent the Palestinian people in Israeli peace talks can only lead to uncomfortable questions that are better swept under the rug. Best is to let the Palestinian journalists in Gaza grapple with the question on their own, right?



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The foreign reporters should write as I did when I was still allowed talkbacks for English online Jerusalem Post that what's bitterly needed is general - Gaza, West Bank and, if agreeable with the Israelis, East Jerusalem - Palestinian elections. Hamas should by now see that such elections are in fact the only democratic way out and in their own best interest. So it should no longer make obstruction policies against the happening of just this.

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