According to the AP, Israel Radio and the Jerusalem Post, the Palestinians threatened news organizations and their workers in an effort to stop the broadcast of video, and the publishing of photographs, showing large crowds of Palestinians in Nablus and Ramallah joyfully celebrating the deadly 9/11 terrorist attacks against Americans. Presumably they understood that such video and photos would be repugnant to Americans — and millions of others around the world — and might damage their image.
Photographers and stringers (mostly Palestinians themselves) were forced by Palestinian gunmen to stop filming the celebrations (see Agence France Press report), and they were threatened with death if their video was broadcast. The news organizations they work for were told that everyone from their news organization would lose their access to PA officials and be unable to cover events in PA territory if they broadcast any video or photos of the large celebrations.
An AP photographer was specifically threatened with death if his photos were published. AP has published a report about the threat, but has caved in to the PA's request not to publish these photos.
Thus far, only videos and photos of small crowds celebrating in eastern Jerusalem and Lebanon have been broadcast/published. It appears the Palestinian intimidation tactics are working to keep the most damning scenes from Ramallah and Nablus off American (and worldwide) television screens and out of the newspapers.
The attacks on Tuesday were not only heartbreakingly deadly, but have also served to threaten forever our freedom from fear for our personal safety, our freedom of movement, and sadly our freedom to welcome people from all over the world with an attitude of trust. Now, our freedom of the press, our right to get unfiltered news, is under assault by Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. AP and other news organizations should be urged to broadcast any video and/or photos they have of celebrations by Palestinian crowds in Nablus and Ramallah. Only by exposing and standing up to intimidation can it be stopped.
Some reporters have mentioned that Palestinian celebrations were minimal and isolated and others have reported that thousands attended such celebrations in the streets of Ramallah and Nablus. Let members of the public see the video, the photos, so they can judge for ourselves how "minimal" or large the celebrations were. It is vital at this time -- when our leaders are pondering what response to make and which governments they can count on as true allies -- that we receive accurate information about potentially widespread support for the terrorist attacks by the Palestinian public and their security forces.
At the very least, the intimidation of photojournalists and the manipulation of the news by the Palestinian Authority should be a story in and of itself. Please urge news organizations to report in-depth on this important story. Thank AP for publishing the story about the death threat to their videographer, but urge them to publish the photos.
PA NEWSPAPER PRAISES SUICIDE BOMBERS
Similarly, it is notable that when Arafat's words of condolence were so widely broadcast by many in the media, few in the press made note that on the very day of the attacks, the PA-controlled daily newspaper published an article praising suicide bombers as “the engines of history...the most honorable among us.”
See below for articles from AP, Agence France Press, IMRA, the Jerusalem Post and PMW.
ACTION ITEMS: [In the original alert, action items and contact information were listed here.]
*** AP WIRE: 09/12/2001 6:00 pm ET
AP Protests Threats to Freelance Cameraman Who Filmed Palestinian Joy
JERUSALEM (AP) The Associated Press on Wednesday protested to the Palestinian Authority about threats against a freelance cameraman who filmed Palestinians celebrating terror attacks in the United States. The videographer, on assignment for Associated Press Television News, was summoned to a Palestinian Authority security office and told that the material must not be aired. Calls in the name of the Tanzim militia, an armed group associated with Yasser Arafat's Fatah group, warned him he would be held responsible and made what he interpreted as threats on his life. Several Palestinian Authority officials spoke to AP in Jerusalem urging that the material not be broadcast. Ahmed Abdel Rahman, Arafat's Cabinet secretary, said the Palestinian Authority “cannot guarantee the life” of the cameraman if the footage was broadcast. The cameraman then requested that the material not be aired. In light of the danger, APTN has not released the footage of the rally in Nablus. AP news stories reported worldwide on the demonstration in Nablus and AP distributed still pictures and video of similar rallies in east Jerusalem, Lebanon and elsewhere. An AP still photographer did not take pictures of the Nablus rally after being warned at the scene not to do so. The protest by AP Chief of Bureau Dan Perry said, “I ask the assurances of the Palestinian Authority that you will protect our journalists from threats and attempts at intimidation and that no harm would come to our freelance cameraman from distribution of the film.”
*** AFP REPORT: Wednesday, September 12 10:25 PM SGT
Agence France Press
Excerpt: On Tuesday night, Palestinian security services barred photographers from recording scenes of joy in Nablus as crowds sang the praises of alleged Arab terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, a prime suspect in the unclaimed attacks on the United States.
*** From: Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
Date: 12 September 2001
PA Threatens to Kill News Workers If They Broadcast Photos of Celebrating
Israel Radio correspondent Danny Zaken reported on the noon news program that while hundreds of Palestinians went out to the streets in many cities in Judea and Samaria (but not Gaza) to celebrate the attacks against the United States -- distributing candy, waving flags, honking horns and shooting in the air in joy — coverage by the foreign news was typically limited to east Jerusalem. According to Zaken, at least two news organizations, a large news agency [now known to be AP] and a foreign TV network, had footage of the celebrations in Nablus and Ramallah that included Palestinian policemen shooting in the air in joy within a crowd of hundreds. They declined, Zaken reports, to broadcast the material after senior officials in the Palestinian Authority -- including PA ministers who are frequently interviewed by the media — contacted the heads of the news organizations, threatening the lives of the cameramen and stringers in the field and that if they broadcast the reports that they would not be allowed to cover events within the Authority in the future. The news agencies declined to comment to Israel Radio.
*** Jerusalem Post September 12 , 2001
(Website: Latest News): Armed Palestinians threatened photojournalists. Reports indicate armed Palestinians trapped foreign photojournalists inside a Nablus hotel late yesterday while thousands took to the streets in celebration of the terror attacks in the United States…
*** Excerpt from 9/12/01 report from Palestinian Media Watch [not to be confused with the pro-Palestinian PMW]:
Within hours after the horrific terrorist attacks in the United States, there were spontaneous outbreaks of rejoicing in the streets of the Palestinian Authority... Arafat's denunciation of the attacks, which continues to be broadcast, is in direct contradiction to the atmosphere of hatred he has been promoting through his tightly controlled media. The following are but a few examples: The suicide bombers of today are the noble successors of their noble predecessors... the Lebanese suicide bombers, who taught the US Marines a tough lesson in [Lebanon]...and then, with no preconditions, they threw the last of the remaining enemy [Israeli] soldiers out of the [security] zone. These suicide bombers are the salt of the earth, the engines of history...They are the most honorable [people] among us... [Al Hayat Al Jadida - Official Palestinian Authority daily, Sept. 11, 2001]