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Editorial: A man has bitten a dog

Aug. 24, 2013 1:20 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 25, 2013 9:25 A.M.)
By: Nasser Lahham
In some countries, people use the term watchdog journalism. In a way, journalism is described as dog because media outlets "bark and howl" at those who arouse suspicion. This is allegedly a positive comparison because dogs have the ability to recognize smells ten times better than humans. In addition, dogs are loyal and faithful when they guard properties against thieves and drug dealers.

A few days ago, a new youth movement was announced in Gaza on Facebook with the name Tamarrad (Rebel) Against Injustice. It is not clear whether this is a serious youth movement, or who stands behind this group. The public cannot tell whether this movement is a factional offset trying to support Fatah, or a group of amateurs who look at the world in their own way.

Surprisingly, the reaction of Hamas and its de facto government in Gaza to the new phenomenon reflects fear and dismay. The reaction to Tamarrad in Gaza seems even tougher than the rebellion itself, prompting a curious question of whether the Hamas-run government in Gaza fears any popular action in the Gaza Strip? Is popular action forbidden? Aren't young people in Gaza entitled to protest and express their points of view? Why have all these threats and intimidation been aimed at the Tamarrod activists?

The reason I ask is to touch on the mentality of the rulers in Gaza and whether there really is good governance there or not. If it is forbidden to speak, to criticize and to demonstrate, people in the opposition will have to consider other means which could eventually become more harmful, less moral and more vehement.

It is worth remembering that the opposition leaders in Israel are entitled to a government salary similar to that of the prime minister. They are also entitled to a car and two body guards. Opposition leaders take part in all decisive decisions such as declarations of war. They also partake in decisive leadership meetings and reception of high-profile visitors to the country. The French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who is currently visiting Israel, has asked to meet with opposition leader Shelly Yechimovich right after his meeting with Netanyahu.

Thus, if current Palestinian leaders stubbornly insist on treating opposition with intimidation, they will eventually end up behind bars just like their counterparts in some Arab countries who "wake up as presidents, and enter the evening as humiliated prisoners." Each government, namely the Hamas-run government, should realize that excessive use of power against opposition will sooner or later negatively affect the rulers. I wish we could have learned lessons from the examples of our neighboring countries. I wish rulers and officials could stop this empty tone of intimidation which proves their fear of the future as they have no self-confidence, and neither do they trust their people.

Hackers affiliated to Hamas recently took over Ma'an Network’s Facebook page, using it as a platform to verbally attack the Palestinian president and other Palestinians. The Hamas-run ministry of interior surprisingly started to run the page. Ma'an has been in contact with Hamas leaders including the bureau of premier Ismail Haniyeh about the case and several leaders expressed solidarity with Ma'an. They tried their best to work out a solution but "a handful of narrow-minded people in the ministry of interior foiled all efforts." This highlights that the Hamas ministry of interior is running the Gaza Strip like gangsters and smugglers rather than responsible governments. Otherwise, what does it mean when a government hacks a media outlet? "We can grasp it when a dog bites a man, but we can never understand that a man bit a dog."

In other words, a person or a recidivist may hack a website of a ministry or government, but I never heard of a government hacking a media outlet and publishing its interior ministry data on a hacked page. It is possible they don't trust their own media outlets, satellite channels, and the large numbers of spokesmen they have, and so they needed Ma'an's Facebook page to publish their thoughts? If hacking Ma'an's Facebook page will solve problems in the Gaza Strip, our page is at your service, and we hereby offer to create another page for you.

Had the Gaza ministry of interior asked Ma'an's editor-in-chief to publish all its data on Ma'an for free, I swear we would have agreed politely and respectfully. Nevertheless, "nature can't beat out inherently evil nature," and "a lizard's eyes reveal its bad intentions."

More surprising was the Facebook administration who were reluctant to intervene and help Ma'an restore its page. This situation actually leaves no room for doubt that the Palestinian programmer Khalil Shreateh was treated unjustly by the Facebook administration which proved to be deceitful, irresponsible and immoral and is evidence that "all that glitters is not gold."

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