OPEC Press Conference

In all my years working as a journalist I have attended many hundreds, perhaps thousands of press conferences, but never with so much hypocrisy. The strangest one I ever attended was the press conference of the OPEC which was 000_10755held on 1 July 2009 in Vienna. It was held by the Director-General of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), Suleiman Al-Herbish, together with Karin Koning Abu Zayd, head of the UNRWA. The occasion for the press conference was that Dr. Al-Herbish would start together with Ms. Koning an education fund for Palestinians.

The fun started at the door, where I was stopped by a lady with excessive make-up, who demanded that I wear a black suit with white blouse, but then a second lady came and told me to ignore the first one. I entered the conference room, and after a while another woman came and asked me for which journal I was reporting. She was happy to hear that I publish my reports in English. I had the impression that everybody was tense. There were no smiles, almost no talking among those present.

In total, four questions from present journalists were allowed before the 000_1043conference was called off by Dr. Al-Herbish. Al-Herbish interrupted the journalists questions more than one time and stated that no political question should be asked during the conference and the grant signing ceremony between OFID and UNRWA. By the constant interruptions and limitations, and because Al-Herbish told the journalists present at his press conference that we should ask only questions related to the grant agreement which they were signing, the conference was reduced into a meeting for note takers.

First I asked Commissioner-General Karen Abu Zayed why the UN does not teach Palestinian history and geography to the Palestinian refugee children at the UN refugee schools in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and other countries, and who 000_0508is responsible for that? After that, I asked Dr. Al-Herbish about the 130 thousand Euros which OFID and other organizations had spent the day before for the Marcel Khalife concert in the Vienna Rathaus and if there was any balance between what they had spent in this concert and what they had collected in ticket fees (about 60 thousand), and, if there was a relation between the concert activity and what they had spent in help for Gaza. After my questions, Al-Herbish and his assistants interrupted the other journalists present and told us that no political questions were allowed, and that questions should only be about the grant of OFID to UNRWA. When another colleague asked a question about Gaza, Al-Herbish interrupted him. After one more question the press conference was called off. I don’t know what was answered to my questions, because somebody turned off my recorder, and the tense atmosphere.

The press conference at the OPEC was attended by few journalists, by many 000_1030representatives from NGO who are direct beneficiaries and do activities with OPEC. These people sitting around the conference table with frowns, not moving, not talking. Nobody was allowed to say one word. When Paula Hourani from the Jewish organization Women in Black tried to say one word about Gaza, she was interrupted directly and told to keep silence because she was not a journalist. My impression is that neither OPEC nor UNRWA wanted to hear or say anything at all about Gaza, and that what probably was planned to be a session of self-adulation was interrupted by a bit of reality.

I took home a bag full of propaganda from OPEC and UNRWA, which shows how 000_10777happy all Palestinians are, how good the schools are, how good the life is in Palestine and in the refugee camps in the different countries. Really, if the life of us Palestinians was like it is portrayed in the expensive color brochures, it would be better if I went to Gaza or to one of the many refugee camps operated by UNRWA. In my propaganda bag there are about 10 Kg. of brochures with smiling children, women and men, all well fed, clean, healthy a CD, and a small holder of visit cards in aluminum. All in all, what they spent for my bag of propaganda could probably have fed a family in Gaza for a month. Such are the priorities of the UNRWA.

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2 comments to OPEC Press Conference

  • Salaam al-Maseeh

    Assalaamu alaykum, Ms. Salam,

    You said it perfectly, the word is HYPOCRITES to describe them. Jesus Christ said the only place hypocrites and their followers are going is to hell. They will go there and all who follow them will go there too.

    Thank you as always, Ms. Salam for your honest reporting. God bless you.

    Jesus Christ said, Matthew Chapter 23, verse 15:
    15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you go round about the sea and the land to make one proselyte. And when he is made, you make him the child of hell twofold more than yourselves.

    BarakAllah fiik,

    Steve in Vista

  • Rabbit

    Why am I not surprised?

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