By Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute—

More than 1,600 Palestinians have gone missing in Syria, and hundreds have been killed, since the beginning of the civil war there. This is not the type of news that makes it to mainstream media in the West, however.

To catch the eyes of the international community and media, Palestinians need to live in the West Bank, Gaza Strip or Jerusalem. These are the lucky Palestinians whose stories (and plights) are regularly covered by the international media. Why? Mostly because these are the Palestinians whose stories are often linked, directly and indirectly, to Israel.

It is no secret that Western journalists and mainstream media outlets have developed an obsession with Israel. Everything that Israel does (or does not do) receives widespread coverage, especially if there is a way to blame Israel for inflicting suffering on the Palestinians.

When Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas imposed punitive measures against the two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, denying them medicine, electricity and salaries, somehow the mainstream media finds a way to implicate Israel.

Abbas’s ongoing crackdown on the Palestinian media, including the arrest of journalists and Facebook users, is also apparently not newsworthy, in the view of the Western media. Who cares if Abbas blocks 30 news websites because of their criticism of his policies and actions? Who cares if Abbas just this week ordered the arrest of journalist Ayman Qawasmeh, the director of a private radio station in Hebron?

Qawasmeh was arrested shortly after he criticized Abbas and called on him and his prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, to resign. Western journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict dismiss these stories only, it seems, because they lack an anti-Israel angle.

As if the arrest of Qawasmeh were not enough, Abbas’s security forces later arrested Issa Amro, a Palestinian activist from Hebron, for speaking out against the arrest of the journalist. Amro was taken into custody after he published a Facebook post criticizing the Palestinian Authority security forces for arresting the journalist and stifling freedom of expression.

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