(Note: This article was appended on July 8, 2021.)
“There is a wing of the pro-Israel establishment in the U.S.,” the Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor tweeted on May 28, 2021, “for whom simply recognizing the humanity of Palestinians is beyond the pale.” The World Views columnist added: “Even the most simple attempt at centering the Palestinian experience can constitute ‘blood libel.’ It’d be funny if it wasn’t so sick.”
Tharoor often pretends to care about Palestinians. The Post employee has authored dozens of omission-laden columns where he blames the Jewish state for a myriad of issues confronting the Palestinian people. But when Israel’s involvement can’t be conjured—when, for example, Palestinian leaders are brutally repressing their own people—Tharoor can’t be troubled to write an honest assessment.
Take, for example, the recent crackdown by the Palestinian Authority, which rules over the majority of Palestinian Arabs.
As CAMERA has documented in op-eds in The National Interest and the Washington Examiner, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and the ruling clique of his Fatah movement have been arresting, imprisoning and torturing critics and dissidents. One critic, Nizar Banat, was reportedly murdered. As the reporter Khaled Abu Toameh has highlighted, Palestinian journalists, such as Fayhaa Khanfar, have been summoned—and reportedly beaten—by the PA’s intelligence services. The Authority has even attacked protesters as far away as Beirut, Lebanon.
The accelerated campaign of repression began shortly after Abbas announced in January that he would be holding elections in the summer. The PA hasn’t held elections since 2006, and Abbas himself is currently in the sixteenth year of a single four-year term. Abbas’s Fatah movement lost those elections to its chief rival, Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group that calls for Israel’s destruction and which seized the Gaza Strip from Fatah after a brief internecine war in the summer of 2007.
Abbas, in full violation of the Oslo Accords, allowed Hamas to participate in the announced elections. Yet, in April, with polls showing that Abbas was likely to lose to Hamas or internal Fatah rivals like Marwan Barghouti, the elections were “postponed.” Protests—and more repression—followed. The majority of Western journalists, however, turned a blind eye—including, for nearly six months, the Washington Post’s Tharoor.
Tharoor’s silence is particularly galling. As CAMERA has noted, the World Views columnist is obsessed with castigating the Jewish state. For example, from May 2020-May 2021, he authored 13 articles on Israel, a tiny nation of 9 million. By contrast, during that same time period—a period in which, by any honest account, China looms large—Tharoor authored 17 articles on China, a nation of 1.4 billion. Brazil, a country of 213 million, warranted a mere three articles—four times less than Israel.
Tharoor has authored dozens of articles on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, all of which portray the Palestinians as perennial victims without independent agency. Yet, the columnist couldn’t be troubled to write an honest report on the PA’s crackdown.
When Fadi Elsalameen, a Palestinian-American who holds U.S. citizenship, was threatened by Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Tharoor was silent. Other news media, including the Jerusalem Post, which has a fraction of the Washington Post’s budget and staff, provided coverage. It should be newsworthy that a U.S.-backed entity—the PA receives both U.S. and Western aid and support—is threatening a U.S. citizen.
Perhaps most damningly, Issa Amro, another Palestinian critic of Abbas, was also seized during the Authority’s crackdown—and Tharoor was, once again, silent.
As the Times of Israel noted in a June 22, 2021 report, Amro was arrested and “held in jail over a Facebook post that accused the Palestinian Authority leadership of corruption.” Amro, Times of Israel reporter Aaron Boxerman detailed, “said he was detained under the PA’s controversial 2018 cybercrimes law, which allows individuals to be arrested for ‘slandering’ government institutions online. Human rights groups argue the PA has abused the practice to arbitrarily arrest its political opponents.” Amro, who had previously been arrested in 2017 for his criticisms of Abbas, was eventually released.
Several news outlets, including the Associated Press, provided reports about Amro’s detention. But Tharoor didn’t.
Tharoor’s silence is noteworthy. The World Views columnist has cited Amro on several occasions. Indeed, on Oct. 6, 2017, he even authored a hagiographical profile about Amro, comparing him to Gandhi. Yet, as the late Petra Marquardt-Bigman pointed out, Amro “is on friendly terms” with “individuals known for their antisemitism and their open support for Hamas,” including Miko Peled, who compares Israelis to Nazis, and members of the Tamimi clan, who have assaulted IDF soldiers and trafficked in antisemitic blood libels. And, as Marquardt-Bigman noted, both Amro and his group, Youth Against Settlements, have used social media to incite anti-Jewish violence.
Tharoor, who hailed Amro as a “leading Palestinian activist,” couldn’t spare a word, much less a column, about Amro’s imprisonment. Ironically, in his 2017 portrait of Amro, Tharoor uncritically quoted the Palestinian activist’s claim that “Nobody cares about a child being detained by Israeli occupation forces.” But Tharoor’s pretensions for caring about the “humanity of Palestinians” don’t seem to extend very far.
Few journalists, it seems, care about protesting Palestinians who are being beaten, detained, tortured, and murdered by their own rulers. The Washington Post’s World View doesn’t actually care about Palestinians—it just uses them as cudgel to single out and libel the world’s sole Jewish state.
(Note: Several hours after this article was published, Tharoor did belatedly—more than six months after the crackdown began— write an article on the protests. But, typically, he blamed Israel for the Authority’s repression. While lamenting the lack of a Palestinian state, Tharoor declined to inform readers that Authority leaders have rejected no fewer than three formal U.S. and Israeli offers for a state in the last twenty years alone. The World Views columnist also omitted Amro’s detention, and the threats leveled at Elsalameen, a U.S. citizen.)