Last week, controversy broke out among Palestinians over an advertisement by Israel’s civil administration in the West Bank that appeared in Al-Quds, the leading Palestinian daily newspaper. The Palestinian Writers’ Union condemned the publication of the advertisement as “normalization” of relations with the Jewish state, and a group of journalists demonstrated outside the offices of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, which is controlled by Fatah and itself fiercely opposes any hint of normalization. Bassam Tawil comments:
Nasser Abu Baker, the chairman of the syndicate, who also works as a correspondent for Agence France-Press (AFP), lashed out at Al-Quds for publishing the advertisement. . . . Abu Baker, who recently ran in the election for the Fatah Revolutionary Council, is the architect of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate’s campaign to boycott Israeli journalists and media outlets. His political activism constitutes a flagrant violation of the regulations and principles of AFP and a conflict of interests. However, this does not seem to bother his employers at the French news agency, who do not see a problem with one of their employees running in the election for Fatah’s Revolutionary Council. . . .
Last year, . . . the syndicate claimed that Israeli journalists “enter the territories of the occupied State of Palestine [sic] and work there together with the occupation army and under its protection” [and] accused Israeli journalists of being “unprofessional” and serving as a “mouthpiece for the occupation to justify its crimes against the Palestinian people.” . . . By accusing the Israeli journalists of serving as a “mouthpiece” for the Israeli authorities and working “under the protection” of the Israel Defense Forces, Abu Baker and his syndicate are endangering the lives of the Israeli journalists [by] turning them into supposedly legitimate targets. . . . Abu Baker is not the only Palestinian journalist working for an international media outlet who is involved in [this sort of] political activism. . . .
This is the dirty little secret that Western media outlets do not wish to reveal for various reasons. One of them is because they are afraid of losing access to sources in the Palestinian Authority. Another is because these media outlets sympathize with their Palestinian producers and reporters and see them as “victims” of Israel. Yet hell would freeze over before they would employ an Israeli political activist as a reporter or producer.