Den palestinske korrupsjonsjegeren Fahmi Shabaneh forsøkte lenge å få arabiske og vestlige journalister til å interessere seg for avsløringene av korrupsjon innen palestinske selvstyremyndigheter på Vestbredden. Forgjeves. Det endte med at han måtte henvende seg til palestinske journalisten Khaled Abu Toameh, som arbeider for Jerusalem Post.
Toameh hadde storyen ‘Corruption will let Hamas take W. Bank’ på trykk 29. januar, fem dager før israelske Channel 10 plukket den opp. Fordi den handlet om sex og inkluderte en video, gikk den verden rundt.
Men sex-storyen skygget for alvoret: Shabaneh sier Hamas ville tatt over på Vestbredden med en gang Israel trakk seg ut. De har null folkelig støtte. Hovedårsaken er korrupsjon.
«Had it not been for the presence of the Israeli authorities in the West Bank, Hamas would have done what they did in the Gaza Strip,» Shabaneh told the Post. «It’s hard to find people in the West Bank who support the Palestinian Authority. People are fed up with the financial corruption and mismanagement of the Palestinian Authority.»
Shabaneh said that many Palestinians in the West Bank have lost hope that the PA would one day be reformed. «The Palestinian Authority is very corrupt and needs to be overhauled,» he said.
Shabaneh cited several specific cases of alleged corruption within Fatah and the PA in the course of the interview, including asserting that Fatah personnel stole much of a $3.2 million donation given by the US to Fatah ahead of the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary election, won by Hamas, which had been intended to improve Fatah’s image and boost its chances of winning.
Shabaneh, a resident of east Jerusalem who worked as a lawyer before joining the GIS as its legal adviser after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, said he was forced to quit his anti-corruption job several months ago after exposing a sex scandal involving one of Abbas’s top aides in Ramallah in 2009.
Shabaneh har levert mange saker til palestinsk påtalemyndighet, men ingenting skjer. Han går offentlig fordi han mener whistleblowing er eneste sjanse til å stanse korrupsjonen.
At vestlige og arabiske journalister ikke ville skrive om korrupsjonen er vesentlig informasjon. Etter at Arafat døde var det lov å skrive hvor korrupt han var. Man erkjente at denne korrupsjonen undergravde palestinernes sak. Nå er det samme historie, og de samme folkene. Likevel ville ikke Al Jazeera og andre ta saken. Vestlige redaksjoner sier: Hvis det ikke er noe negativt om Israel er vi ikke interessert.
Dermed er journalistene blitt en del av korrupsjonen.
Shabaneh, who lives in East Jersualem, Israel, said he decided to break the story to Abu Toameh after most of the Arab and Western journalists, including those at Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, refused to listen to him. Shabaneh said the journalists cited various reasons, including fear of retribution from the Palestinian Authority; a lack of desire to publish anything that would reflect negatively on the Palestinians; fear of «losing access,» and, «Editors are not interested in a story unless it has an anti-Israeli angle.»
Shabaneh presented a written letter, which he had sent to the Al Jazeera bureau in Ramallah: it included an offer to expose cases of corruption among the high echelons of the Palestinian Authority.
The New York Times partially covered the story, treating it as just a sex-scandal.
«What do you think the response in the media would have been if comparable documents about corruption had been exposed about Israeli officials by a senior Israeli officer, instead?» said one frustrated journalist. «This is huge! You can publish anything about the Israelis, there are never any consequences; they keep helping you anyway. Is this a democracy? To keep covering up for dictators?»
Despite the uproar caused by the scandal, which is now known among Palestinians as «Fatahgate,» the mainstream media in the U.S. and Europe did not display the same degree of enthusiasm as the Palestinians on the streets of Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin.