Tuesday, December 28, 2004

 

PR, Mustafa, and You

Ihad al-Jariri is working very hard these days. Jariri is campaign manager for Mustafa Barghouthi, who is also working very hard these days. Both are working hard to get noticed, to thrust the hypocrisy of Israel (which says it is doing everything to facilitate PA elections while maintaining an occupation that has quite the opposite effect) and the US (which says that it is interested in fostering democracy in the Middle East, in Iraq and Palestine) into the light of the world. Democracy doesn't work when the candidate who is second in the polls is arrested for trying to campaign. This should be obvious. And my guess is that this was in fact a calculated maneuver by Jariri and Barghouthi to try to highlight these kinds of contradictions. (I really do believe that if Taisar Khaled of the DFLP can get the permit to have a campaign rally in Jerusalem, Barghouthi would have been allowed a permit also. The question, though, is whether a PA candidate should be required to seek an Israeli permit to campaign.) Unfortunately for Jariri and Barghouthi, the US media just does not care. They feel little desire to open up this hornet's nest of Israel/Palestine. So not a single major US newspaper will print more than a line or two (buried on page A30 or thereabouts, if we are lucky) about Barghouthi's arrest. Their coverage of the Palestinian elections means showing up for Abu Mazin's acceptance speech sometime in January. Meanwhile, most major papers will have a headline about Israel's "goodwill gesture" of releasing about 160 prisoners. This is the way the PR game works, and Israel knows it well and plays it well. Still, I give Jariri and Barghouthi all the credit in the world - they are really trying their best to wage an effective campaign both in Palestine and abroad.

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