|Luxury and privilege in Ramallah's so-called "diplomatic |
compound", reserved for PA insiders. The AP caption reads: "The
gated community of villas with well-tended flower gardens... may help
explain why Palestinians almost universally believe there is
corruption in the government of President Mahmoud
Abbas. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)"
That's one of the reasons we mention often how the Palestinian Arabs live in a society ruled by kleptocrats - those aggressive and powerful Abbas/Arafat regime insiders whose well-being and wealth depend on keeping the flames of hatred going and their fellow-citizens under their heels.
Yesterday (Tuesday), Associated Press syndicated a somewhat rare look at what the ordinary folk think of their Palestinian Authority overlords, and how that translates into action.
The original AP version of the article (under the headline "In tough times, most Palestinians view government as corrupt", Karin Laub and Mohammed Daraghmeh, May 24, 2016) is archived here.
But about the headline: is it fair and accurate to say "most" when the proportion of Palestinian Arabs convinced of their governing regime's corruption is almost 96% according to the data quoted by AP. Given a 3% margin of error, that's about as close to unanimous as public opinion ever gets. What other consensus issues do we hear about anywhere where a trivial 4% of the total population disagree? Never happens.
Let's also note that massive Palestinian Arab corruption is neither new nor a secret. As the AP piece notes:
[T]he government hasn't submitted annual budget reports for mandatory audits for four years, effectively preventing scrutiny of how millions of dollars are spent, said corruption monitor Aman, the Palestinian branch of Transparency International.How those millions are spent is precisely at the heart of the ongoing scandal via which willfully-gullible European governments, along with the co-operative United States, continue to fund the Arafat/Abbas Rewards for Terror scheme while pretending not to notice the array of fig leaves and overt lies. Those serve as cover for the jihadist murders - mainly of Israelis - that everyone involved knows is the actual purpose of the cash flowing into Ramallah.
If we have to choose one particular shortcoming in yesterday's news report, it's that AP could have depicted, but did not, Palestinian Arab corruption in ways that might have significantly changed people's perceptions. How? By photographs of those concrete expressions of corruption that we know about but that are rarely seen.
Pictures of villas for the powerful and well-tended, paved and - of course - guarded streets do that well. A shame that AP offered only one such image in its syndicated story (the photo at the top of this post), and that one shows no human beings. The text describing the exclusive neighbourhood ("built for senior Palestinian Authority officials on subsidized land") helps, but it's almost always true that pictures trump words for impact.
|Modesty is not exactly at the top of their priorities. This lavish edifice |
is currently under construction in Ramallah. The caption in
the Daily Mail article reads: "Grand: Ian Birrell at the £8 million
presidential palace on the West Bank - built by a country that
got £72 million in foreign aid
What kind of images almost never emerge? How about photos or clips of PA insiders - the fat-cat ministers, the fancily-dressed bureaucrats, their privileged children - getting in or out of their fancy SUVs and limousines. We're thinking of that in particular because it's a reality we encounter when we make a weekly trip to the community south of Jerusalem to visit grandchildren. This involves our driving past Bethlehem, and sharing the road with drivers leaving or entering Bethlehem or Hebron or the surrounding villages.
If you have not made that journey recently, or visited other parts of the PA's domain, you might find the reality quite stunning. We do, seated in our seventeen-year-old Toyota Corolla and watching the procession of high-performance Audis, BMWs, Hyundais and Mercs glide by.
This video clip, made last year by a creative (and justifiably angry) Israeli individual with an activist bent, Ezri Tubi, delivers in simple in-your-face form an illustration of how badly people's ignorance and/or misconceptions serve them about non-trivial aspects of the lives lived by our Pal Arab neighbours.
Very rarely, images do emerge of the armed security men - many thousands of them, in at least eight different official organizations [source] - who keep the PA elite safe from their disenfranchised citizens. Sure, AP reporters can and do write (mildly) about this sort of thing, as we have just seen. And from time to time they can also remind the world that the Palestinian Arabs are not only exploited but their own power circles, but can do next to nothing about it since those same power circles have no interest in allowing them to exercise their democratic right to vote in elections. It's good to see those things written and said occasionally because they are true and meaningful.
But there's no substitute for producing images and the honest contexts that need to accompany them. (And yes, we know life and freedom are about many issues, not just villas and Volvos.) Photos really get into people's heads in ways that words rarely do. However that threatens those PA insiders and so their appearance is much rarer.
(In case it's not obvious, corruption in Gaza and among its Hamas ruling clique is as bad, if not worse.)