More worrying than the institutional instruments that enable censorship are the multiple forms of self-censorship that are deeply ingrained in the journalistic practices and conventions of Israeli media. By Ido Liven As the Hebrew proverb goes, "be a tail among lions rather than a head among foxes." In Freedom House's latest report, Israel's state of press freedom demonstrates just that. In the organization's 2012 report, Israel scored 30 on a scale of 10 to 97, putting its press freedom status at the bottom of the better “free” category. In the 2013 report, released on May 1, the country lost one point,…Read More... | 1 Comment
Recent actions taken by the heads of the army, Mossad and the internal security service (Shin Bet) reveal the Israeli security establishment's unsupervised power, and the way it directs that power at the country’s own citizens and elected officials. These are the main details which have been made public in the affair of Ben Zygier, also known as 'Prisoner X': Zygier was probably recruited by the Mossad in the years following his immigration to Israel; the Australian secret service grew suspicious of Zygier after he changed his name and took out new passports four different times; according to the latest…Read More... | 14 Comments
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein announced on Wednesday his intention to indict Uri Blau, one of Israel's top investigative reporters, for possession of classified materials without permission. The materials in question are documents given to Blau by whistleblower Anat Kamm; Kamm, then a conscript clerk in the office of GOC Central Command, copied them from the GOC's computer, believing they constituted evidence of war crimes carried out in defiance of international law and Israel's own Supreme Court, including summary executions of terrorism suspects who could have been detained. Kamm is presently serving a four and a half-year prison sentence following a…Read More... | 18 Comments
I have a brief op-ed up on the New York Times and in today's International Herald Tribune, discussing the repercussions of Anat Kamm's sentence. One of the things I wanted to highlight is the highly disturbing insinuation reflected in the decision to prosecute Kamm on the charges of espionage. Does that mean that informing the public constitues treason - and that the state and the army see the Israeli public as a potential enemy? And will we now see the reporter who published Kamm's documents, Uri Blau, go on trial for doing his job? A few days earlier, on Sunday, I…Read More... | 7 Comments
Talkbackers call Anat Kamm, who was sentenced to four and a half years jail time and 18 months' probation, a "traitor" and say she should spend life in prison, reflecting Israel's march to the right. And though it seems as though Kamm's case has come to a close, questions remain. Sunday morning, Anat Kamm—the former soldier who leaked classified documents to Haaretz reporter Uri Blau—was sentenced to four and half years in prison and a year and a half of probation. This is in addition to the two years Kamm already spent under house arrest. Speaking to reporters, Prosecutor Hadas…Read More... | 9 Comments
This post has been updated. The Tel Aviv District court has sentenced Anat Kamm to four and a half years in prison. The sentence writes the final line in a campaign of scapegoating that has already caused deep and lasting damage to independent Israeli journalism. Anat Kamm, the journalist who leaked over a thousands pages of classified IDF documents to Haaretz journalist Uri Blau was sentenced on Sunday by the Tel Aviv District Court to four and a half years in prison. The documents, which Kamm copied while serving as a conscript clerk in the office of then-GOC Central Command…Read More... | 8 Comments
In the spring of 2010, it emerged that a young journalist had been under house arrest for several months for leaking documents that led to the publication of an investigative report on IDF misconduct. Thanks to an unprecedented media blackout, the case made headlines around the world. Anat Kamm is serving a four and a half-year prison sentence. Uri Blau, the journalist behind the report, will stand trial. This is how the case unfolded. December 14, 2006 The High Court of Justice rejects a petition against the IDF practice of targeted killings of wanted militants. However, the ruling - former…Read More... | 1 Comment
[Please scroll down for the actual petition - everything preceding it is my own commentary]. Earlier this week, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein informed Haaretz reporter Uri Blau he will hold a hearing for him at the end of the month, to decide whether to put him on trial. This step would have disastrous ramifications for Israeli freedom of the press, wounding it behind recovery. At the bottom of the post is a petition to the Israeli Attorney General, urging him not to press charges against the journalist; you can read more about the campaign on Noam's blog. As of 7…Read More... | 5 Comments
Israel's Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has summoned Haaretz journalist Uri Blau to a formal hearing – the last procedural step before prosecuting Blau in a criminal court. The 7th eye website reports [Hebrew] that the hearing will take place towards the end of the month. Last March, The Tel Aviv Office for the General Prosecution announced that it was considering prosecuting Blau for unauthorized possession of classified information. Following the procedures against Blau, dozens of Israeli journalists have signed a petition, demanding not to put Haartez's reporter on trail (my translation from Hebrew). We - journalists and media people who…Read More... | 1 Comment
On Saturday night, veteran broadcaster Yoram Arbel (one of Israel top sports show hosts and longtime host of Who Wants to be a Millionaire) made the following remark during an Israel-Latvia game. "An Israeli girl who's done something horrible, even worse than that, has been sitting locked up at home for a year, under an order, of course. How does she pass her time? She loves watching football. So we'll dedicate a part of this broadcast to her, because if someone loves football, they deserve this much. " Arbel was referring, of course, to Anat Kamm - the young journalist…Read More... | 4 Comments
(updated below) In the hail of news report on the escalation on the Israel-Gaza front and the Jerusalem bombing, a key development has gone all but unnoticed by world media. On Thursday, Haaretz reported "with regret" that the Justice Ministry decided to charge one of the paper's star reporters, Uri Blau, with "holding classified information without authorization, but "without intention to harm the security of the state." The indictment is pending a personal hearing with Yehuda Weinstein, the Attorney General; there is very little reason to assume Weinstein would stall the process. The state's decision turns the tables in the…Read More... | 11 Comments
The Headlines: Inaction Inertia > The government threw its support behind a bill that would enshrine Jerusalem’s status as a national priority area, ensuring the city continues to receive special budgetary support. The decision applies to all parts of the city as claimed by Israel, including territory which is considered occupied under international. This may create an international problem for the government. > Netanyahu’s solution to the severe controversy over benefits to yeshiva students was typical: form a committee, gain two weeks. I have another suggestion: a benefit “freeze”, which much like the vaunted settlement “freeze”, will be a hollow…Read More...
The prosecution in Anat Kamm's trail admitted today that the Shabak (Israel's internal security service, formally known as Shin Beit), ignored the agreement it signed with Haaretz reporter Uri Blau in order to expose the source for a story he published. In a research article published two years ago in Haaretz, Blau reveled that senior Israeli generals, including chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, knowingly violated Supreme Court rulings by ordering the assassination of Palestinians militants even when they didn't pose an immediate threat or when it was possible to capture them alive. After the story was published, the army began…Read More...
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