For months now, former Israellycool contributor and dogged investigative blogger, Challah Hu Akbar, has been chasing down the story of political repression practiced by Abbas and his Palestinian Authority cronies. Back in January he started with this post “Mahmoud Abbas Launches Attack Against InLightPress” and then wrote numerous times about InLightPress: how it was hacked and then blocked all by Abbas and all for politically criticising him.
Since returning to his own blog Challah has continued and uncovered a whole sale censorship of the internet for those unfortunate enough to live under Palestinian Authority control. The Abbas regime no longer denies it is censoring political oponents. Forbes has a technical explanation of how the Ma’an news agency proved that selective political censorship was taking place.
If it was ever possible to say that Abbas and his cronies had a democratic mandate (remember they were supposed to have held elections a long time ago) it’s blown.
Democracy is not an election. Elections are the last and least important element of real democracy. Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly both granting the right to criticise the political order of the day are absolutely ESSENTIAL pre-requisites for a democracy. If you can’t do those things, you don’t have a democracy.
And the danger of this kind of control is clearly recognised because guess who issued a Presidential Executive Order about this very subject just last week? That’s right, America’s very own El-Presidente Obama who doesn’t need a Congress or a Senate when he can just make up the rules as he goes along with orders like this one (h/t No Agenda Show):
EXECUTIVE ORDER- – - – - – -BLOCKING THE PROPERTY AND SUSPENDING ENTRY INTO THEUNITED STATES OF CERTAIN PERSONS WITH RESPECT TO GRAVEHUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES BY THE GOVERNMENTS OF IRAN AND SYRIAVIA INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, hereby determine that the commission of serious human rights abuses against the people of Iran and Syria by their governments, facilitated by computer and network disruption, monitoring, and tracking by those governments, and abetted by entities in Iran and Syria that are complicit in their governments’ malign use of technology for those purposes, threaten the national security and foreign policy of the United States
Section 1. (a) All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person, including any foreign branch, of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:
(ii) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with or at the recommendation of the Secretary of State:
Sec. 6. Nothing in section 1 of this order shall prohibit transactions for the conduct of the official business of the United States Government by employees, grantees, or contractors thereof.
Sec. 8. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the two national emergencies identified in the preamble to this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.
So it is most definitely not OK for Syria and Iran to block free and unfettered access to the Internet for their people, but here’s a whole pile of money for you in the Palestinian Authority and carry on just as you are. OK?
There’s another side effect to this executive order. If you are Cisco or any other American manufacturer of networking equipment or security software, you better not let your stuff get into Syria or Iran. If it does you could find your company confiscated without warning. In effect he’s mandating that the Syrian and Iranian markets (if they aren’t already) be handed to China. But it’s OK, Congress doesn’t need to talk about this, it’s an Executive Order. Best way to get stuff done.