Arab Journalist Speaks

Arab journalist talks about Israeli-Palestinian conflict

By Tyler Sandson, The Daily Texan, February 26, 2007

Israeli-Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, reporter and editor on Palestinian affairs for the Jerusalem Post, US News & World Report and NBC News shared his views and experiences about his work on major middle eastern publications at the Texas Union Sunday evening.

Toameh spoke on the development of democracy in Israel, ranging from the freedom of press to his ability as a non-natural citizen to vote, to the role of journalism in the conflicted area, as well as the conflict itself.

“A two-state system is great, but it’s not going to work. Gaza and West Bank are too far separated geographically, politically and culturally to work. And instead of focusing on the ideal promotion of love and harmony in the area, we need to look at reducing violence and friction, because the divisions are too wide,” Toameh said.

In addition to giving a brief overview of Israel-Arab relations in Palestine, he spoke of the different attitudes toward freedom of the press in Palestinian newspapers versus Israeli papers.

“Simply enough, Israel has freedom of the press, and Palestine doesn’t,” he said.

The Hasbara Fellowship-sponsored event consisted of lecture given by Toameh and culminated with dinner and a discussion with leaders from campus organizations such as Texans for Israel, Society of Professional Journalists, University Democrats, Texas Student Media and the Plan II Honors Program.

“It was important to bring in a respected journalist like Toameh to give a different perspective from the media, It’s a great way to understand foreign issues and democracy from a journalist’s experiences,” said Nicholas Chu, president of University Democrats and government senior. “It’s also a great way to educate on the issue of the media’s attitude toward the Middle East. The media show a vision of peace is impossible when it may only take hope.”

The turn-out and effects of the night are all positive, said David Steinberg, the south east campus coordinator for Hasbara Fellowships. “He addressed many misconceptions that a lot of people might have towards the Middle East. There is a general misconception that Israeli is far more limited on rights, for example. Learning about these issues of the Middle East is important for students.”

Currently residing in Israel, Toameh is proud of his Arab ethnicity and is renown for his unbiased reporting of the area, despite his nationality and current citizenship, said Plan II senior Rachel Bressinger.

“He is not biased, despite his Arab nationality or Israeli citizenship,” she said. “He offers a very clear picture of what’s going on in Palestine.”

Toameh identifies himself as pro-truth rather than pro-Israel or pro-Palestine. “I’m not here to bash Israel or promote a certain side, but to show the reality of the conflict,” he said. “I believe true democracy is possible in the area, but not anytime soon.”

© Copyright 2007 The Daily Texan

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