The Palestinian journalist and activist Bassem Eid began his career by reporting on Israeli misdeeds. Unlike most others, he sought to verify every story he heard, and scrupulously avoided exaggeration, eventually winning the grudging respect of Israeli authorities. But after playing a major role in the Israeli human-rights organization B’Tselem during its early years, he left it to focus on reporting on the Palestinian Authority’s gross mistreatment of its own citizens. Joshua Muravchik writes:
This experience [of being arrested and intimidated by Yasir Arafat’s security forces] strengthened Eid’s resolve to monitor abuses by the Palestinian authorities. But the leadership of B’Tselem was divided about whether the group should make itself the watchdog of Palestinian authorities as well as Israeli. Those who placed human rights above ideology wanted to do so, but there was another group . . . that sympathized with the PLO, and wanted B’Tselem to keep its emphasis solely on Israel. In July 1996, Eid announced his resignation from B’Tselem and set about creating his own organization.
Eid’s Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG) kept a critical eye on Israel’s actions, publishing reports on home demolitions, detention of Palestinian prisoners, violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, and the like. But this time, Eid focused primarily on Palestinian authorities. “I feel I must protect my nation from any kind of authority, even its own authority,” he explained. “I want the Palestinians to build a democratic state, not just extend their authority.” . . .
Eid’s own organization, and his even-handed approach to injustice, would be another casualty of the heightened state of conflict and the accompanying lack of regard for truth that continue to characterize the failure of the Oslo peace process. In 2011, Eid’s PHRMG ran out of funds and closed its doors. All Palestinian human-rights groups depend on European funding, and the funders turn out to be more concerned with abuses by Israel than by the PA.