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Palestinian media quiet on Egypt protests

Feb. 1, 2011 10:10 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 11, 2011 10:02 A.M.)
By Nasser Lahham

Silence prevailed, from the Palestinian Authority, the government in Gaza, the factions and the people; all kept a safe distance from the Egyptian hot potato for fear that coming out on the wrong side would impact their future.

As with Lebanon and Tunis, the shadow of former President Yasser Arafat's strong support of Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait still hangs long over Palestinian foreign policy. For Arafat's support in the 1990s, Palestinians were expelled from the gulf states, had properties seized and accounts frozen. For a people who helped build the gulf, support of the wrong regime saw a second home become unwelcoming.

The Palestinian press looked like a joke. Wafa News Agency had not a word about Egypt, as if nothing were happening. Palestine TV broadcast comedies as other stations aired footage of thousands in Cairo streets. Young Palestinians in the blogosphere and on social networking sites took notice.

Jerusalem-based newspaper Al-Hayah Al-Jadidah's coverage of Egypt seemed to say "We swear to God we have nothing to do with what is going on in Egypt."

While Al-Ayyam ran the front page with a large photo of Egyptian protests and a brief story saying "Egypt witnesses a state of chaos."

But while official silence has become the norm, Palestinians are watching events closely. In every home, in every coffee house and in every shop, those stations covering the events in Egypt play ceaselessly.
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