Meddling from Palestinian Intelligence Distorts PJS Congress

Update: Feb.1 2010 – Regarding the latest news of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) my sources notified me that there are 62 members of the (PJS) from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank who are running for the election of a “Mediator Council” comprised of 21 members, invented by people outside of the PJS, obviously based on election falsification techniques imported from the USA, and which are in contradiction to the  PJS by-laws. This “mediator council” will choose a PJS council without “undue interference” from the PJS members. This will make sure that a “Secretary General” of the PJS will be imposed by entities operating from outside of the Palestinian Journalists  Syndicate. (Read in Arabic).

Palestinian journalistic sources from Ramallah have stated that the central committee of Fatah wants to impose a Secretary General of their choice upon the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) by using force and guile. This is an illegal and illegitimate intervention, and a clear violation of the by-laws of the PJS.

According to these PJS by-laws, the Secretary General must be directly elected by the journalists, during the congress of the PJS and not by the central committee of Fatah which has no influence on the PJS members. The by-laws of the PJS did not mention that the candidate of the PJS general secretary must be a member of Fatah Revolutionary Council, or a member of the Palestinian National council. These “conditions” are invented by Fatah itself.

My Palestinian sources have commented on the intervention of the Central Committee of Fatah and Tawfiq Al-Tirawi at the PJS congress, saying that the Fatah has no legal power to force the PJS members to adopt its will. The PJS congress is an issue of journalists and journalism, and there should not be place for the Central Committee of Fatah in this congress.

They added that Fatah must understand that their congress was held, and ended, in Bethlehem in August of 2008, and that the journalists of Fatah who are members of the PJS are all qualified and could choose their representative according to the PJS by-laws, and not according to the will of the central committee of Fatah and the instructions of their ex-intelligence chief Tawfiq Al-Tirawi, who has arrested and tortured many Palestinian journalists because they exercised their journalistic duties.

Many Palestinian journalists have strongly condemned the meddling of the Central Committee member of the Fatah and Al-Tirawi in the internal affairs and for the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS). These journalists stressed that the meddling of Al-Tirawi, which is related to the elections of the PJS are illegitimate, illegal, unacceptable, and are in violation of the by-laws of the PJS. The PJS is not a military institution where Al-Tirawi could impose himself at pleasure. He must leave us to manage the PJS affairs by ourselves. He is an undesirable interloper and even suspected of various atrocities which forced him to escape from the Gaza Strip.

The head of the Palestinian Media Forum, Emad Al-Efrangi, stated: “While Al-Tirawi denies the existence of political interference in PJS elections, his denial itself is seen as the biggest evidence of political interference in the PJS”. He added: “Fatah should have nothing to do with the PJS elections”.

Palestinian officials claimed that the intervention of Al-Tirawi in PJS elections “is part of his work”. They claimed that Al-Tirawi is in charge of the national organizations file at the PLO. This declaration caused huge anger and reactions among the PJS members, who asked frankly: “Under which conditions are the representative of the PLO national organizations interfering the Palestinian Journalists syndicate affairs?”; “Where was this committee during the previous time when the PJS was a paralyzed organization?”
The journalists said that PJS is the collective of its members, which constitutes its Assembly, and not some invented file given to Al-Tirawi at the central committee of Fatah. As far as we are concerned, the PJS by-laws are clearly above Al-Tirawi and the Central Committee of Fatah.

On the other hand, a member of the journalist’s office in Ramallah is supporting the meddling of Al-Tirawi. He defended him and claimed that this meddling “serves the interests of the PJS members”, but he could not explain how. He probably meant that it is in our interest to abide by the wishes of the intelligence. This “journalist” cursed the intervention of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), where Secretary General Aidan White expressed the concerns of the IFJ regarding the undue meddling of outside political forces with the Palestinian journalist community in the preparation of the PJS congress. The IFJ also called for the postponement of the PJS congress, scheduled to be held on 5th February for a short period, in order to allow journalists to put in place a structure acceptable to all, which will guarantee an open and inclusive process leading to a unifying congress. (Read in English and Arabic the full statement of the IFJ press release )

One journalist allied with Al-Tirawi, and who relies on him to nominate him as a representative to the PJS congress, even cursed the sister of the IFJ head with very rude words for saying basically that the PJS should solve their issues according to the by-laws (the PJS is a member organization of, and receives support and financing, from the IFJ). I was astonished at these rude words from this impolite colleague, who said them while defending the meddling of Al-Tirawi.

I want to say that the IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide, among them the people organized in the PJS. The IFJ does not represent the Fatah Central Committee or their political security chief Tawfiq Al-Tirawi. It represents the PJS ONLY when it represents the Palestinian Journalists, and not the Political party of Fatah. The IFJ has given us, the journalists organized in the PJS all sorts of supports, and it puts the name of PJS on the international map of journalism. The IFJ has all the right to say their free word about the illegal meddling of people from outside the profession, especially the politicians, in the PJS congress. As anywhere, to accept political influence in our issues would clearly destroy any credibility of the journalists in the organization, even endanger us.

The IFJ also has the right to evaluate the results of PJS congress. If it goes against the will of the Palestinian journalists, the members of the JPS and if it adopts the will of Fatah and Al-Tirawi, the IFJ has all the right to check the legitimacy of the PJS membership in the IFJ. If the PJS is a real PJS, which represents the Palestinian journalists, and if the PJS is reduced to a branch of Fatah Central committee headed (from behind) by an ex-intelligence chief, I doubt that it has a place in an association of journalists with any self-respect.

Disclaimer: The views expressed about the IFJ in this article are mine. They represent neither the standpoint of IFJ nor that of the other members of the PJS. The views about Al-Tirawi and the central committee of Fatah represent many PJS journalists who preferred to keep their names private.

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