Illustration: Peter Horvath
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Bassem Eid Made ‘B’Tselem’ Famous by Reporting Israeli Abuses. Now He’s a Traitor.

The Arab human rights activist and fearless correspondent, caught in the middle of unending conflict

Joshua Muravchik
November 18, 2015
Illustration: Peter Horvath
Illustration: Peter Horvath

“Similar to a class traitor,” is how one BDS activist struggled to explain to another on Twitter the words of Bassem Eid, the Palestinian human rights advocate who has become a forceful voice against the BDS movement. It was not the first time that Eid has been called a traitor or worse, but his history, which is far better known to his Palestinian countrymen than to Westerners, gives the lie to such epithets.

It was Eid who put the human rights organization B’Tselem on the map. Most famous for its denunciations of excessive Israeli military actions, B’Tselem was founded in 1988 during the first Palestinian intifada by prominent left-wing Israelis aiming to combat abuses of Palestinians by Israeli forces. But how many Palestinians would open up to Israelis knocking at their doors, claiming to want to help them, even if the Israelis spoke Arabic? And how many Israelis would credit stories of misbehavior by their soldiers, when they knew that Palestinians not infrequently resorted to wild hyperbole? B’Tselem needed an investigator who could command trust on both sides, someone to whom the Palestinians would talk freely but who would at the same time vet their stories with a critical eye.

B’Tselem’s search led them to Eid who was then a 30-year-old Palestinian journalist working mostly as a freelancer or stringer. He wrote sometimes in Arabic for Palestinian papers, but he was fluent in Hebrew. B’Tselem’s founders knew his byline from Kol Ha’ir, a Jerusalem weekly published by Haaretz. Over five years, Eid had established a reputation for gritty and careful investigative journalism. For example, there was the ugly incident in the village of Salem, near Nablus, in early 1988, where residents alleged that Israeli soldiers had buried some youngsters up to their chests in sand with a bulldozer to punish them for throwing stones. By the time Eid reached the scene, the youths had been extricated. All that he could see was a mound of sand. Eid demanded stronger proof of the villagers’ tale. When one of the alleged victims claimed he had lost a shoe under the sand as he was pulled free, Eid urged the people to take shovels and dig for it. Lo and behold, the sand yielded a shoe, and, like Cinderella’s glass slipper, it matched the one that the young man produced. On the strength of this evidence, the army investigated and confirmed the incident. When Eid wrote it up for Kol Ha’ir, it raised a small scandal.

Eid’s utter indifference to whom he displeased in pursuit of a story is rare anywhere, but especially in a part of the world where connections count for so much. It was this quality that caught the eye of B’Tselem. On another occasion, a woman had approached Eid with a story about her difficulty in obtaining a divorce. As a Palestinian Jerusalemite, she held both an Israeli identity card and Jordanian citizenship. Many Jerusalemite women prefer the Israeli Muslim court because, says Eid, “it protects the rights of the woman much more than the Jordanian Muslim court.”

In this case, however, the woman was not receiving justice. Eid recalls: “The woman told me that each time she went to court, the judge, a sheikh, postponed her case because he was interested in her sexually.” He explained that to help her, he needed proof, and he directed her to call the judge from his office. Eid reconstructs the interlude:

She said, “Mr. Sheikh, why you are postponing my case all the time?” And he said, “Until you come to my home.”

And she said, “I do not know where your home is.” And he said, “Can you come now?”

And she said, “Yes, I can, in half an hour.” He described a place. He said, “There is a public telephone there. Stop beside it. I will come and pick you up.” She agreed, and Eid quickly phoned his editor at Kol Ha’ir to dispatch photographers to stake out the rendezvous. Then, as Eid continues the saga:

We went. I hid myself. She stood near the public telephone and he came in pajamas. It was around four o’clock in the afternoon. And he came to the public telephone. He took her arm, and started walking. He was around 65 years old. Then, two photographers jumped in front of him and took pictures, and he started running. He escaped from the place, leaving the woman.

The photos of the judge together with Eid’s story left nobody happy except for the woman who got her divorce. The judge was humiliated, and the Muslim authorities were embarrassed. Officials of Israel’s ministry of religious affairs decried the publicity. Such a serious case of extortion demanded action, but the ministry was reluctant to act against a Muslim cleric so it merely transferred him from Jerusalem to Haifa.


Unlike most other liberal thinkers in the Middle East, Bassem Eid did not come from the educated middle class. His father, Mohammed, eked out a living as a tailor, working alone with his sewing machine in a tiny stall in the shouk in the old city of Jerusalem. In 1951, Mohammed Eid married Mahdiyah, the daughter of a poor cobbler-turned-imam in Lod, who bore four sons in rapid succession, Bassem being the fourth, and then a daughter.

Early in the marriage, the young family had moved from a home in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City to one in the Jewish Quarter. Although Palestinian leaders often deny the historical connection of Jews to Jerusalem, the Arab residents of this part of the city always called it the “Jewish Quarter” in Arabic, even when no Jews lived there. The flat consisted of just a single room plus a small kitchen and a toilet. When the crush of living seven in a room bothered him, Bassem found refuge with his mother’s sister. Unusual though it was in their culture, this aunt was a spinster who lived alone in the Cardo, the remains of the central street of the city in the Byzantine era, which was just a minute’s walk from the Eid home.

In 1966, the Jordanian government decided to empty that part of the Jewish Quarter of its inhabitants. No force was used, simply an enticement. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency had just built a new refugee camp, called Shuafat, now a no-man’s land between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that has become the epicenter of the current wave of knife attacks, on the northern edge of Jerusalem, along the road to Ramallah. Each family that moved there was offered a home and plot of land free of charge.

In consequence of the move, the Eids were not displaced by the war of 1967 as were many other residents of East Jerusalem. They were not, however, spared all trauma. Bassem, who was then 9, had gone to visit his spinster aunt in her one-room apartment in the Cardo the day that the battle for Jerusalem began. He recalls:

When the war started there was a small radio at my aunt’s. And they started saying “Yahud, Yahud, Yahud” [Jew, in Arabic.] I had no idea what it meant. So I asked my aunt, “What does it mean, Yahud? Are they human beings like us?”

And she said, “No, they eat human beings.”

“Oh, goodness! They might come here and eat us.”

“No, do not worry. I locked the outside door.”

For five days they lived on whatever provisions were on hand. The radio gave them some news, of dubious reliability, but it was their only link to the outside. The home had no phone; nor did that of Eid’s parents. Mohammed and Mahdiyah could only pray to Allah to preserve their young son isolated in the midst of some of the most intense fighting. On the sixth day, Eid recalls:

Somebody knocked at the door, and immediately I ran towards my aunt and I said, “The Jews have come to eat us.”

She said, “No, no, it is not the Jews. Go and open the door.”

I said, “No, you are older than I am. You have to open it.”

Then she said, “Do not worry. This may be your uncle.”

Then I went and I opened it. And I saw soldiers, and immediately I ran inside the house. Then they entered. They spoke Arabic well. They asked if there were men in the home, and my aunt she said, “No one, except me and this child.”

And then one soldier said, “If you need some food you can go outside. There is a point here which is distributing food—some tomatoes, some bread and milk.”

And then my aunt looked at me and she said, “Do you want to bring some?”

And I said, “No.”

Then the soldier looked at me, saying, “Why not?” in Arabic. “You can go. It is safe. Nobody will bother you.”

And I said, “No.”

When the soldiers had left, Bassem asked his aunt: “Do you believe him that they are distributing bread and tomatoes and milk?” And she said, “Yes.” Bassem challenged her: “You told me the Jews eat human beings. Why should they feed us?” Then she said, “This is what your grandfather told me,” but she confessed she did not know the truth of it herself. So, Bassem ventured out, and he found “all of the neighborhood people were there, bringing tomatoes, bread and milk. They gave it to everybody.”

That the Jewish soldiers were so much kinder than he had been led to expect may have contributed to Eid’s attitude toward Israel, which, even when he was acting as its most irritating hair shirt, never was marked by hatred. Even more, discovering in such vivid fashion the falsehood of the tale of Jewish cannibalism that his aunt passed down to him from his grandfather seems to have imprinted young Eid with the strong sense of the difference between fact and rumor that was to become the trademark of his career.

After high school, while waiting tables to save for college, he stumbled into an activity that influenced his development. With no definite purpose, he had picked up a used Hebrew typewriter. He had mastered the language in the streets, hawking newspapers to Jewish Israelis, so he could buy first-hand clothes and school bags and snacks and treat himself to action on the pinball machine, since, his parents who by then had four more sons could not furnish these things. Then one day, walking through a section of the shouk in the old city where butcher shops were concentrated, he was offended by what he saw and smelled. The butchers in the shouk had no refrigeration. Sides of meat hung from hooks; slabs were laid out on counters. “The streets smelled so bad and were so dirty,” Eid recalls. He went home and typed a letter in Hebrew to the mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kolek, complaining of the conditions.

Two weeks later, the post brought a reply. Kolek thanked him for bringing the problem to his attention, praised him as a good citizen, and promised to clean up the butchers’ row. That was exciting; so next, he sent a letter to Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Eid can no longer remember the subject, just that once again he got a reply—signed by the prime minister. Eid told others of his correspondence and word began to circulate that he had the power to communicate with the Israeli authorities. Eid recalls:

Then people started coming to me, saying things like, “Listen, I have problem with the national insurance. Can you write me a letter to explain to them that in this year I never worked, I was sick? I have the medical reports here with me.”

After about a year, Eid made a small business of writing proxy letters. He rented a stall near his home, got a post-office box, and even installed a telephone—something the Eid household had never been able to afford. The residents of Shuafat would bring him their disputes with various government offices or utility companies, and Eid would type letters in Hebrew, pleading their cases. They would pay him a few shekels, and sometimes, when he saved someone a bundle, they would give him a tip.

He developed confidence in his own talents as an advocate. He also learned something about the nature of democracy. “For each letter I sent, I received a response in a written letter,” he says. “This is not common in the Arab world, at all. In Israel it is. Any letter you send—sometimes it takes time to check the case—but in the end you will receive a written answer.”

After four years of working restaurants by day and writing advocacy letters by night—or vice versa—Eid had saved enough money to enroll in Hebrew University to study journalism. But after two years his funds ran out, and he was forced to abandon his studies. He resumed working in restaurants and writing letters for members of his community, but he also began to write as a freelancer for Arab and Hebrew papers, and soon he caught on with Kol Ha’ir. His connection remained freelance, but for the next five years his contributions were regular.

As a result of his growing reputation in that role, he was discovered and recruited by the founders of B’Tselem. Initially, the organization had a staff of six, of which Eid was the only Arab and the only full-time field worker. He was the heart of the operation. “For me, Bassem Eid is B’Tselem,” wrote Gideon Levy, a columnist of the newspaper Ha’aretz who covered Palestinian affairs. “He brings them their hard information, their raw material.” Later, the group hired an Israeli who was fluent in Arabic who also did field work, but this was after B’Tselem had won the trust of the Palestinians, thanks largely to Eid.

Toward this end, Eid began to pen a weekly story for Al Quds, the main Palestinian newspaper, relating cases he had investigated. Each time the Israeli army was accused of misbehavior, B’Tselem would send it a report based on the testimony Eid had taken. The army would then investigate and either deny or admit the accusation. In his articles, Eid stressed the toughness of B’Tselem, and he frequently mentioned cases in which the army confessed fault and offered apologies or restitution.

Sometimes Israeli soldiers troubled by the misbehavior of their fellows made use of Eid. In 1990 a reservist contacted him to report that his unit had rounded up a bunch of youths in the village of Aboud, near Ramallah, who were suspected of having thrown stones at some Jewish settlers. The soldiers beat them and humiliated them. It happened to be the Jewish holiday of Purim when costumes are donned, and some soldiers forced the boys to put paint on their faces and repeat a Purim song. Eid gathered corroborating testimony, and several other soldiers eventually confessed and were punished.

Eid often drove Israeli military officials crazy. Once, for example, the army arrested a 16-year-old resident of a West Bank village, Beir Nabala, who confessed to blocking a road overnight with stones. When asked how he had traveled the considerable distance from his home to the spot of the blockage, the lad said he had taken his father’s donkey. The next day, soldiers arrived with a truck and confiscated the donkey. When the family told Eid what had happened, he dashed off a letter to the legal adviser to the military. He inquired about the whereabouts of the donkey, asking: “I want to know if you have a prison for donkeys. I want to know how you are treating the donkeys. And I want to know if the owners have a right to visit their donkeys.” The legal adviser replied in humorless bureaucratese, explaining that he needed a case number and asking whether the donkey in question had any distinguishing characteristics. Eid released the exchange to the press, which he knew would appreciate its drollness. When it made the front pages of three Israeli papers, the donkey was returned.

Although he was a thorn in its side, the army came grudgingly to respect Eid. It recognized that his reports were free from the fancy and exaggeration that is all too common in Palestinian discourse. “Why exaggerate?” asks Eid. “For example, if 2,000 houses have been demolished, why make it 10,000? If the Israelis killed four, why say it was 40?” He did not take complaints from fellow Palestinians at face value. On the contrary, he made it a practice to probe the accuracy of the testimony he received before telling his colleagues in the B’Tselem headquarters to send a formal letter to the army asking for its version of the events described to him. It was not uncommon for him to discover distortion.

Once, a 6-year-old girl died from a gunshot wound to the head that her father, a member of the Palestinian security forces, said an Israeli settler fired into his car. It only took some phone calls to neighbors for Eid to learn that, in truth, the bullet came from the father’s own gun as he was cleaning it in his home. Another time, a little girl died of an Israeli soldier’s gunshot into a car. Her father reported he had been driving and they were attacked for no reason. Bassem discovered that the girl’s 15-year-old brother had taken the family car for a joy ride, without parental permission, and invited her along on promise of an ice-cream cone. On reaching a checkpoint, he had turned to speed away because he had no driver’s license. A soldier then fired the fatal shot. The soldier was punished because his orders were to shoot out the tires of a fleeing suspect vehicle, not to shoot the passengers, although the story was not the cold-blooded murder that the father had claimed.


1994 was a pivotal year for Eid, as it was for all Palestinians and Israelis. In July, 10 months after the awkward handshake between Rabin and Arafat on the White House lawn, the PLO leadership made its triumphant return to Palestine to set up a government. Nearly all Palestinians longed for a state of their own, but Eid, like others, had reservations about the long-exiled PLO leadership. Rabin had once publicly justified doing a deal with a man he openly despised by observing that Arafat would control the Palestinians and “deal with them as they need to be dealt with, without … interference by B’Tselem.

Eid had already had run-ins with some of the Fatah toughs within the territories because he had denounced some of the brutal street “justice” they dispensed, especially in the refugee camps. He also had been instrumental in a B’Tselem report issued early in 1994 on the subject of the killing by Palestinians of other Palestinians suspected of “collaborating” with Israel. Its findings were stark:

The broad definition placed on the term “collaborator” by Palestinian organizations and their activists and their modus operandi led to the killing of hundreds of Palestinians who did not operate in the service of the security authorities. Many were killed because their behavior was perceived as immoral or because they were considered “negative elements” in the society, or for other reasons. Some killings were carried out within the framework of internal disputes, or to settle personal rivalries, and were then portrayed as punishment for collaboration.

Would Arafat and his well-armed crew tamp down this violence, wondered Eid, or add to it? It was not long before his apprehensions were confirmed. Arafat created a variety of armed agencies of which the best known was the Preventive Security Service (PSS) commanded by one of his close deputies, Jibril Rajoub. Soon Palestinians began to come to Eid with stories of abuse at the hands of Rajoub’s minions. “I started receiving telephone calls from people who had been arrested and tortured and then released,” recalls Eid. “Some of them were really afraid.” Because there were so many such complaints, Eid concluded that these were not isolated incidents, but “a phenomenon.”

Eid urged his superiors at B’Tselem to open an investigation into abuses by the new Palestinian National Authority, but they said that as an Israeli organization, it was their mission to criticize misdeeds by Israel, not by the nascent Palestinian government. So, Eid began to keep his own records. As these files thickened, Eid appealed to B’Tselem to reverse its policy and allow him to prepare an official report on the abuses. He collected sample testimonies, translated them into Hebrew, and distributed them to the members of the board, which then voted to authorize the report. It was published in August 1995, and it cited cases of:

extra-judicial punishment, abduction of residents, illegal arrests, prolonged detention without any judicial scrutiny, refusal to allow legal representation, refusal to allow regular family visits, and use of torture techniques such as beatings, painful tying-up, threats, humiliation, sleep deprivation, and withholding of medical treatment. The refusal of most of those who gave testimony to B’Tselem, and many others who have been interviewed by the media on these matters, to have their names published indicates that many West Bank residents refrain from publicly criticizing the PSS out of fear of a severe and violent reaction by the PSS.

In response, Rajoub denounced Eid as a “collaborator” and an “Israeli police agent.” This all but put a bounty on Eid’s head. Human Rights Watch reported: “Many rights groups protested this remark as a malicious and unsubstantiated allegation that could endanger Eid’s personal safety. The PA gave assurances that human rights groups were free to work in the self-rule areas, but did not formally retract the accusation.”

The threat Rajoub unleashed forced Eid to alter his methods. Now when he visited dangerous areas, he would take along a colleague, particularly Israeli or foreign journalists, whose presence as potential witnesses would deter attacks. But he did not back down.

In January 1996, the Palestinians held elections for a president and a legislative council. In a public statement, Eid criticized Arafat for the failure of Palestinian TV to give coverage to other candidates. That same night, as Eid arrived home in Shuafat about 11PM, a man got out of a parked car and approached him. He identified himself as Abu Fuad Jneidi, an officer of Force Seventeen, a security service tasked with protecting Arafat among other special duties. He asked if Eid would accompany him to his office in Ramallah for “a cup of coffee.” Eid laughed and said: “I know of many people invited to drink coffee with you who never returned.”

Jneidi acted offended, acknowledging Eid’s eminence and assuring him that he would be treated as a guest. Eid calculated that if he refused, this would be put into the rumor mill as proof he was a “collaborator,” so he assented. Jneidi asked him to come in his car, but Eid said he would follow in his own. They took a circuitous route to avoid Israeli checkpoints, since Jneidi would have been arrested. En route, Eid called some journalists from Reporters Sans Frontières to tell them his situation. Apparently they started at once making calls on his behalf.

At the office in Ramallah, Eid asked, “Is this going to take long?”

“Probably until tomorrow,” Jneidi answered.

“Am I under arrest?” asked Eid.

“No,” insisted Jneidi, “please do not misunderstand us.”

“So what am I?” asked Eid.

“You are a guest.”

“May I leave?” said Eid, making as if to rise.

“No,” said Jneidi placing his hand on Eid’s to restrain him.

The next day, Israel Radio broadcasted a report about Eid’s disappearance. It quoted a Palestinian commander claiming to have scoured Palestinian detention facilities for Eid and arguing that it must be the Israelis who were holding him. But then Ahmed Tibi, an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset who was also a close adviser to Arafat, appeared at the police station where Eid was being held and ordered his release. Direct appeals to Arafat by U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and widespread news coverage had saved him.

This experience strengthened Eid’s resolve to monitor abuses by the Palestinian authorities. But the leadership of B’Tselem was divided about whether the group should make itself the watchdog of Palestinian authorities as well as Israeli. Those who placed human rights above ideology wanted to do so, but there was another group, led by Uri Avnery, that sympathized with the PLO, and wanted B’Tselem to keep its emphasis on only Israel. In July 1996, Eid announced his resignation from B’Tselem and set about creating his own organization.

Eid’s Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group kept a critical eye on Israel’s actions, publishing reports on home demolitions, detention of Palestinian prisoners, violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, and the like. But this time, Eid focused primarily on Palestinian authorities. “I feel I must protect my nation from any kind of authority, even its own authority,” he explained. “I want the Palestinians to build a democratic state, not just extend their authority.”15

Its first comprehensive report was issued in May 1997, six months after its founding. Its description of “torture on a large scale” and “norms of illegal behavior” by the Palestinian Authority “def[ied] a taboo,” in the words of the Washington Post. “In a political culture that has silenced many critics, the boldness of the organizers, who called a news conference at an Arab-owned hotel in East Jerusalem, stood out as much as their measured and critical report,” said the paper. The Post also noted that no mention of the PHRMG appeared in the Palestinian media, and supplied an anecdote from Eid’s press conference: “Eid, spotting a reporter from the Al-Quds daily [in whose pages Eid had once exposed Israeli misdeeds on a weekly basis] … laughed and asked why he had bothered to attend. The reporter said he had hoped that Eid’s report would mention Israeli abuses, which he could publish.”

Eid chastised Israel and the United States for abetting abuses by the Palestinian authorities on the theory that they needed a free hand to prevent radicals from subverting the peace process. “When President Arafat decided to establish the State Security Court in April 1995 by Presidential decree, Israel and the United States not only gave their blessing to its establishment but also supported the illegal way in which it has functioned since 1995,” he wrote.

In September 2000, the second, or “Al Aqsa,” intifada created a new context for Eid’s work. Initially Eid’s criticisms targeted the Israelis. “What has pushed the Palestinians toward violence is frustration,” he told an American reporter. “The Israelis are still bulldozing Palestinian homes, still building settlements, still killing Palestinians.” One week into the new intifada, the PHRMG issued a report on child fatalities among the Palestinians, detailing four cases and listing the names and ages of 11 youngsters who had perished.Another PHRMG statement protested Israel’s closing of the Gaza airport and demanded, at a minimum, landing rights for planes carrying medical assistance.

While attacking the Israeli press for its lack of objectivity, he also accused Palestinian news organizations of spreading “disinformation,” and he was particularly tough on other Palestinian human rights groups that he thought were exploiting the events. He wrote:

Are these organizations really serving the cause of human rights, or are they trying to gain publicity at the expense of human rights? Do we, as Palestinians, really need to exaggerate matters at this time when the Palestinian people are bleeding? The facts speak for themselves. The Palestinians are victims; overstatements and inaccurate reporting will only damage our credibility.

As the violence grew even more intense, Eid became increasingly critical of the Palestinian side. In February, he publicly called upon Arafat to “shift the focus of the uprising from armed resistance to unarmed, civil protest. … The future of the entire region will be determined not by the intifada but by the peace process,” he added. His words fell on deaf ears, and the next years, his criticisms grew more acerbic. In a 2003 newspaper essay, he went after Arafat personally:

The Palestinian president is still talking about shaheeds [martyrs] and he encouraged children to become martyrs by telling them that one shaheed on earth is considered by God as great as 40 shaheeds in heaven. (This statement has not yet been condemned by any organizations for the protection of children.)

It seems Arafat is still encouraging Palestinians to victimize themselves, an attitude that is without logic or ethics. Instead of talking about peace and life, instead of supporting coexistence, instead of fulfilling the consciousness of human beings, Arafat is calling for death. It appears the nearly 2,500 Palestinians and more than 700 Israelis who were killed during this intifada are not enough to fulfill Arafat’s political interests.


Eid’s own organization, and his even-handed approach to injustice, would be another casualty of the heightened state of conflict and the accompanying lack of regard for truth that continues to characterize the failure of the Oslo peace process. In 2011, Eid’s PHRMG ran out of funds and closed its doors. All Palestinian human rights groups depend on European funding, and the funders turn out to be more concerned with abuses by Israel than by the PA, so donations to Eid’s group were hardly a priority. Since then he has made a living as a commentator and lecturer, often sponsored by pro-Israel groups, who welcome his criticisms of the Palestinian leadership and some of its causes. He denounces Fatah for corruption, but reserves his sharpest words for Hamas:

I am trying to be the spokesperson for those who have died. I think the people who have died left a message. I want the world to hear their voices. “We died for no reason.” The people who died in Gaza were sacrificed by their own leadership: Hamas. The one who imposed three wars on Gaza was Hamas. In every country the governments use their missiles and rockets to protect its people but Hamas was doing the opposite, using its people to protect its missiles and rockets. I am wondering sometimes how Hamas is celebrating the victory of last summer’s war, and I am asking myself as a Palestinian if our tragedies are a victory, what will our defeat be like.

Such words bring predictable denunciations on Eid’s head, as do his denunciations of the BDS movement for impoverishing the lives of ordinary Palestinians. “Take Soda Stream,” he says. “As a result of moving [its operations] from the West Bank to southern Israel, 2,500 Palestinians lost their jobs.”

Predictably, Eid is denounced as a traitor, especially by BDS activists outside Palestine. Within the territories, where he continues to make his home, his defense of Palestinians against abuses from any corner is often recalled with appreciation. But among foreign champions of the Palestinian cause, few know or remember his record, which extended even to defending the rights of Hamas members, for example when he dodged Israeli security, the Jordanian Mukhabarat, and Lebanese Christian militias to sneak into the remote mountains of Lebanon in 1992 to report on the conditions of Hamas militants whom the Rabin government had rounded up and deported there. “I don’t care if I’m called a traitor,” says Eid. “Any Arab who stands up and criticizes his own leadership is called a traitor for Israel. I am trying to find ways to improve daily life for my people and to ensure a better future.”


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Joshua Muravchik is the author ofMaking David Into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel and Trailblazers of the Arab Spring: Voices of Democracy in the Middle East.

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