Fellow Ta’ayush activist and independent filmmaker Nissim Mossek, who produces reports for the Israel Broadcasting Authority (which operates the country’s national public news station, “Channel One”) was recently made aware of the attempt by an Israeli nonprofit called “The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel” to censor his work due to what they deem to be his “extremist” politics.
(The full translation of the letter is below and worth the read. I have translated it to be as loyal to the original text as possible, which is why you will find it to be badly written, inconsistent and poorly argued.)
This “Forum” claims to be dedicated to promoting democracy in Israeli media. In the letter they call on IBA Director Moti Sklar (himself a resident of the settlement of Ofra), to classify the stories Nissim produces for the station as “political” so as to disqualify them as legitimate sources of documentary or news. They claim that his participation in Ta’ayush activities in the South Hebron Hills constitutes a “provocation” that is “against the Jewish settlers” and reflects an “extremist worldview.”
This is a blatant attempt to censor Nissim because he does not toe the party line, but rather acts according to what he believes and applies his filmmaking skills in his activism. As a nonprofit organization that claims to be committed to “protecting human rights in Israel” and “ensuring sound government” it is tragically ironic that the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel can uphold such an argument, when Ta’ayush activists continue to be met with violent, law-breaking settlers (which has been reported here many times) who live in an outpost (Mitzpeh Yair) that even by Israeli standards is illegal, and who consistently infringe on Palestinian human rights with army protection.
This is just one more step in a growing trend of governmental and non-governmental bodies in Israel trying to silence and damage the lives of those who criticize Israeli policies. Today it was reported that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s party Yisrael Beiteinu has proposed to set up an investigative committee into “left-wing organizations” and their role in the “delegitimization” of Israel.
Nissim has been working in this field for over 30 years and his skills and integrity as a director and producer have never been questioned by his employer. Below is a statement he submitted to me as response to what he describes as the “witch-hunt” against left-wing activists that has emerged over the last year:
In the last seven years, at least once a week, I travel from Jerusalem to the South Hebron Hills, where I document Palestinian life and the hardships of occupation. On Saturdays I often join peace activists from Ta’ayush and sometimes accompany my friend Ezra Nawi during the week, who travels to the South Hebron Hills on his own on a daily basis. Naturally I have accumulated hundreds of hours of footage, from which I created a movie in 2008 called “Citizen Nawi.” Ezra Nawi is enemy number one for the settlers of the South Hebron Hills. I am now also considered an enemy thanks to the camera that exposes the settlers’ misdeeds. Since the media rarely broadcasts these stories, my footage documenting what happens in the South Hebron Hills, in Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, is primarily shown on YouTube. Settlers have had me on their radar since an investigative report I did on IBA about the Elad organization in Silwan and another on the illegal outpost of Mitzpeh Yair that aired on “Mabat Sheni.” This is not the first time settlers have written letters of complaint and protest against me to Moti Sklar, the CEO of IBA, who himself lives in the settlement of Ofra. To his credit, Sklar has so far not limited or stopped my work as a freelance reporter with the station.
The Letter sent to Israel Broadcasting Authority:
The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel
Executive Director, Israel Broadcasting Authority
Dr. Amir Gilat
Chairman, Israel Broadcasting Authority Board of Directors
Re: Nissim Mossek – Political Activity
- 1. Mr. Nissim Mossek is a veteran documentarian (director, producer, editor) who has produced many reports for the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
- 2. We have recently become aware that Mr. Mossek participates in protests and is an activist with an extreme political organization called “Taayush.” On one of the websites he is even mentioned as a member of the movement, although we do not have concrete evidence to back this up.
- 3. In order to emphasize Ta’ayush’s position, I have copied a portion of the groups description as it appears on the website homepage (taayush.org): “We — Arabs and Jews, Israelis and Palestinians — live surrounded by walls and barbed wire: the walls of segregation, racism, and discrimination between Jews and Arabs within Israel; the walls of closure and siege encircling the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip; and the wall of war surrounding all inhabitants of Israel, as long as Israel remains an armed fortress in the heart of the Middle East.” (Emphases mine)
- 4. Without going into details, it is clear that this movement has an explicit political orientation.
- 5. Furthermore, we know that Nissim goes out on Saturdays with this group on a regular basis, engaging in activities against the Jewish settlers. The group creates provocations on a weekly basis (an example of this can be seen in a video from November 20, 2010), primarily in the South Hebron Hills region. He also participates in such activities in the Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood and the City of David in Jerusalem. His videos appear regularly on a YouTube channel called “Taayush-Hebron.”
- 6. Mossek is not only a professional videographer but also an activist who videotapes on behalf of the group.
- 7. His participation and opinion of what goes on in Mount Hebron is exhibited by a video from November 1, 2010, minute 5:57, when he turns to soldiers and says to them “Your bogus arrests are known.” In the video from November 20, 2010, he himself documents an attack by Ta’ayush members, but calls the video “settlers attack activists.”
- 8. His extremist worldview is clearly expressed in his documentaries, including those broadcast on the national station. For example, on March 4, 2008 the IBA broadcast a report that he directed for “Yoman” which deals with the excavations in the City of David. The report’s transparent political bias did not leave any doubt that the director influenced it with his one-sided, extreme left interpretation.
- 9. The pictures from the report on the City of David substantiate the scriptwriter’s narrative, which disregards the historical facts. Mossek told his viewers: “Jesus is sold to the Christians, David to the Jews, but what is left for the Muslims?” But what can be done about the fact that Islam did not exist during the periods of excavations revealed in the City of David.
- 10. Certainly Mr. Mossek has the right to produce, direct, edit and broadcast movies as he wishes, however the IBA is a national station with public responsibility, subject to law and ethics. This station cannot therefore present movies by this documentarian as news items or actual documentaries, when he is clearly using his cinematic skills to promote a political agenda.
- 11. We request the IBA management and those public officials who supervise the station to no longer broadcast and present Mossek’s reports as news stories or documentaries in such a one-sided way.
- 12. We specifically call your attention to the fact that the show “Mabat Sheni” is scheduled to broadcast movies he has directed as written in an attached report.
- 13. If it is nevertheless decided to broadcast Mr. Mossek’s movies, we ask to classify them and present them as unmistakably political and one-sided and to balance it with a movie with a different narrative.
- 14. In any event, we ask that you avoid presenting any of his materials as news or documentary.