By KHALED ABU TOAMEH, GATESTONE—
“We will approve the meeting on condition there are no Jews.”
This is what you are likely to hear these days if you request a meeting with any senior Palestinian Authority official in the West Bank.
Palestinian journalists who try to arrange meetings or interviews with Palestinian Authority representatives for Western colleagues have become used to hearing such things almost on a daily basis.
Just last week, for example, a journalist who requested a meeting between Western journalists and a top Palestinian Authority official was told “to make sure there were no Jews or Israelis” among the visitors.
The official’s aide went on to explain: “We are sorry, but we do not meet with Jews or Israelis.”
Another Palestinian journalist who tried to arrange an interview with a Palestinian Authority official for a European colleague was turned down “because the man’s name indicates he is a Jew.”
In yet another recent incident, a Palestinian Authority ministry instructed its guards to “prevent Jewish reporters” from attending an event in Ramallah.
It is not clear at this stage if the Palestinian Authority leadership is behind the boycott of Jews and Israelis who seek to meet with its representatives.
What is clear is that Palestinian Authority officials do not hesitate to state in public that they do not want to meet with any Jew or Israeli.
The Palestinian Authority representatives assume that if you are a Jew, then you must be pro-Israel or anti-Palestinian.
The only people with whom they want to meet are those who support the Palestinians and do not ask difficult questions.
That is why the Palestinian Authority earlier this year imposed severe restrictions on the work of non-Palestinian journalists in the territories under its control in the West Bank.
Now, any journalist who wants to visit a Palestinian city or meet with a top Palestinian official needs to get permission in advance from the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Information.
Even the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the West Bank has come out in support of the restrictions. The syndicate has even gone a step further by urging the Palestinian Authority leadership to ban Israeli journalists from entering Palestinian cities and working there without permission.
Some Israeli journalists covering Palestinian affairs, however, continue to defy the ban by visiting Ramallah and other Palestinian cities — putting their lives at risk.
There were days when Israeli and Palestinian journalists used to work together and help each other in reporting the news. But those days were long before the Palestinian Authority and its representatives started promoting boycotts against Israelis.
It now remains to be seen how Palestinians will react when and if they see their leaders in the West Bank return to the negotiating table with Israel, or meet with a Jewish Congressman or politician.
The next time U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visits Ramallah, will he actually violate U.S. law to make sure there are no Jews among his entourage lest he upset his Palestinian hosts?