By Khaled Abu Toameh
It is not easy for an Arab journalist to criticize his or her leaders. If there is one thing Arab dictators cannot tolerate, it is criticism, especially when it comes from an Arab journalist, columnist or political opponent.
For many years, Palestinians were hoping that one day they would enjoy freedom of expression under the leadership of the Palestinian Authority (PA). But more than two decades after the establishment of the PA, Palestinians have learned that democracy and freedom of speech are still far from being introduced to their society.
Since then, Palestinians have also learned that their leaders are "untouchable" and above criticism. Both Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, have even taught Palestinians that "insulting" their president is a crime and an act of treason.
During the past two decades, several Palestinians who dared to criticize Abbas or Arafat have been punished in different ways.