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Palestinian officials silenced by fear of Obama “reprisals” says Washington Post reporter

Are Palestinian Authority officials afraid of “reprisals” from the Obama administration if they criticize US policy? It would seem so, according to a Washington Post reporter.

On 14 July, The Washington Post’s Scott Wilson wrote a lengthy analysis headlined “Where Obama failed on forging peace in the Middle East.”

MJ Rosenberg pithily summed it up on his blog:

Obama was naive. Too insensitive to Israel, Netanyahu and the Holocaust. Plus, he ignored sage advice of Dennis Ross, Abe Foxman & other Jewish organizational wise men. And he used word “occupation.” 

On Twitter, I took Wilson to task for another reason – the reliance on Israel lobby sources and the absence of Palestinian perspectives, asking Wilson via Twitter, “I’d really like an explanation for why you think it’s ok to completely ignore and exclude Palestinians. Don’t they matter?”

The article quoted staunchly pro-Israel former Congressman Robert Wexler; Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of Israel lobby group J Street.

Despite acknowledging that Obama had “past friendships with prominent Palestinians,” the only Palestinian Wilson interviewed was “a former Palestinian political adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide a candid view.”

Fear of “reprisals”

Today Wilson responded, including an astonishing revelation, that Palestinian officials were too afraid to speak out – even on background – for fear of “reprisals” from the Obama administration:

Wilson specified later the nature of the Palestinian officials’ fears:

Notably the Israel lobby figures Wilson quoted seemed confident that they could criticize Obama without fear of losing access.

The Palestinian Authority, which lacks any popular mandate from Palestinians, is reliant on US and international financial aid, and weapons transferred via Israel, to avoid collapse.

Wilson explains exclusion of Palestinian voices

In subsequent tweets, Wilson explained his exclusion of Palestinian voices from the piece, which I include our conversation here for completeness: