03 September '15..
It’s hardly a surprise to find that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) doesn’t encourage a free press. But the PLO’s latest press release demonstrates a disturbingly blatant attempt to intimidate the media with what it has called an “Advisory to Journalists Visiting the Al-Aqsa Compound“:
It has been brought to the attention of the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department that there is an ongoing attempt by Israeli governmental and non-governmental organizations to organize visits to the sacred Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, with a focus on foreign media. We hereby urge the foreign press not to accept or participate in tours that are part of Israel’s campaign to change the historical narrative of Occupied East Jerusalem, and particularly its religious sites.
In previous media advisories, the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department issued an advisory concerning the use of the inaccurate term “Temple Mount” to refer to Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem. The advisory urged “All international media representatives to adhere to international law and correct any other existing terminology used. The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is not a disputed territory and all other terms, therefore, are null and void”.
By participating in these tours, foreign media is legitimizing and encouraging the daily violations committed by Israeli Occupation Forces against Palestinians, including incitement, hate speech, the denial of freedom of worship at Muslim and Christian holy sites, as well as denial of the presence, identity, and traditions of Palestinian Muslims and Christians in the occupied Palestinian capital.
|Tweet from PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Dept.|
Why is the PLO so concerned about organized tours to the Temple Mount that aren’t under its own close control?
Could it be the possibility that visitors may be given a historically accurate overview that includes irrefutable Jewish links to the site such as the existence of the First and Second Temples?
Or perhaps it could be the potentially negative coverage when journalists see what’s actually going on in the Temple Mount compound as experienced by a group of visiting US Congressmen in August 2015?
“There was an effort to completely suppress not only any expression of religious conviction, but any articulation of historical reality,” Rep. Trent Franks (R-Arizona), co-chairman of the Israel Allies Foundation’s Congressional caucus recounted. …The intimidation of visitors to the Temple Mount, particularly Jewish ones, is an everyday occurrence and is not spontaneous but part of an organized and financed effort on the part of the Palestinians to prevent Jews from even walking on Judaism’s holiest site.
As part of the delegation’s trip to the Middle East, the group took a tour of the Temple Mount that was constantly interrupted by shouting, first by Arab men in the plaza and then by staff from the Wakf Islamic trust.
“We walked up there, and were almost immediately approached by several men who started shouting,” Rothfus said. “We were tracked the entire time we were there and found these individuals surprisingly intolerant and belligerent.”
The PLO press release states:
While Israel continually closes the Al-Aqsa mosque gates to Muslim worshipers, Jewish extremists, aided by the Israeli occupation forces, periodically raid and attack the Muslim worshipers. We urge the international media not to be indirectly complicit in these acts by participating in unauthorized tours and incorrect language aimed at changing the historical narrative of Jerusalem.
Is the PLO afraid that visiting journalists may see that, in fact, it is Palestinians on the Temple Mount who are initiating violence against visitors and security forces and not the other way around?
Ultimately, foreign journalists should be free to visit the Temple Mount and rely on accurate and informed guides if they so wish and with any governmental or non-governmental organization that offers such a tour.
Most journalists should be professional enough to recognize when an agenda is being forced upon them. The PLO’s “Advisory to Journalists Visiting the Al-Aqsa Compound” is a thinly veiled threat against the foreign journalist corps and a blatant attempt to force Palestinian propaganda upon them.
We hope that the foreign journalists it is aimed at treat it with the disdain that it deserves.
TAKE ACTION NOW!
This issue is more than just about freedom of access to the Temple Mount. Journalists should be free to report from the region without the threat of intimidation or interference from Palestinian organizations. Make your voice heard – bring this to the attention of Reporters Without Borders, the global organization monitoring press freedom – firstname.lastname@example.org