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'Criticizing the government nowadays makes you a traitor'

Avi Katz, the cartoonist let go by ‘The Jerusalem Report’ over a caricature depicting Netanyahu and Likud lawmakers as characters from ‘Animal Farm,’ talks about what happened behind the scenes, why accusations of anti-Semitism are so off-base, and what the saga says about freedom of expression in Israel today.

By Oren Persico

Avi Katz wasn’t even in Israel when the cartoon was published. He was in the United States, where he was born, visiting his children. A few days earlier, he had realized his deadline was approaching for the weekly cartoon he publishes in The Jerusalem Report, called “Sketchbook,” and that he hadn’t yet sent anything to his editors.

“I went over the news and I saw Fitoussi’s photograph of the selfie and I broke out laughing,” Katz says, referring to Associated Press photographer Olivier Fitoussi’s photo, initially published in Haaretz, showing Benjamin Netanyahu and some of the more radical and oft-ridiculed lawmakers from his Likud party celebrating the passage of the Jewish Nation-State Law in the Knesset. Netanyahu appears forlorn, MK Oren Hazan is smirking, and the latter’s belly is exposed as he raises his arm to take the selfie.

“I said to myself, I don’t need to do a caricature, the caricature already exists,” Katz recalls, “and I decided to do the easy thing. It’s like telling someone else’s joke and you hope you don’t mess it up too much. I drew the photo the same way they were positioned and standing in it, Hazan and [David] Bitan and the rest, and I drew them as pigs. On the top half of the page, in large letters, I wrote the George Orwell quote and then I sent it.”

Jerusalem Report editor Steve Linde (formerly editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post) immediately wrote back saying thank you, Katz recalls. Something along the lines of, “Great, I was worried you weren’t going to make the deadline.” Soon after, Katz says, “they sent the cartoon to print and it appeared in the magazine.”

The quote, as anyone who has read the book would immediately recognize, is taken from Orwell’s Animal Farm, a satirical allegory of the Soviet Union that takes place on a farm controlled by the pigs, who explain to the other animals that although all the animals are equal, some animals are more equal than the rest.

To Katz, the parallels between the discrimination anchored...

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Israel arrests six Palestinian journalists for 'incitement'

Dozens of Palestinian journalists protest to demand the release of 21 of their colleagues currently imprisoned by Israel. 

By Oren Persico

Israeli security forces arrested six Palestinian journalists across the occupied territories over the past several days for alleged incitement.

Four of the journalists — Alaa Rimawi, Mohamed Hamdan, Qoteiba Hamdan, and Hosni Angas — work for the Hamas-linked Al Quds television station. They were arrested on July 30th. Mohamed Hamdan, was detained in an Israeli prison for several days last February after filming a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners, while Rimawi, Al Quds’ bureau chief, was previously imprisoned for 12 years in Israel.

Israeli forces also arrested Mohamed Anwar Mouna, a journalist with Al Quds Press, which is also affiliated with Hamas, and who also manages a local radio station in Nablus, as well columnist Lama Khater, who writes for various Palestinian outlets.

According to Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), a Paris-based NGO dedicated to the protection of journalists around the world, the arrests were politically motivated

“Palestinian journalists held solely for political reasons must be released at once,” said Sophie Anmuth, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “In the absence of any proof to the contrary, these journalists have committed no crime justifying their detention, which is therefore completely arbitrary.”

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On Sunday, dozens of Palestinian journalists took part in a protest outside Ofer Military Prison near Ramallah to demand the release of 21 journalists currently imprisoned by Israel. According to the MADA, an NGO that defends Palestinian journalists, the Israeli military closed a total of 17 Palestinian media outlets last year, accusing some of them of providing video footage to Hamas-affiliated stations. The closures were accompanied by arrests of journalists, some of whom were held for several months.

The IDF Spokesperson Unit issued the following to the arrests of the six journalists:

A version of this article first appeared in Hebrew on the Seventh Eye. Read it here.

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An end to 'apartheid polls' in Israeli media?

Jews-only polls on matters relevant to the entire Israeli public and polls that present Jews-only polls as representing the views of the entire Israeli public constitute discrimination against the country’s Arab population, Israeli Press Council’s Ethics Court rules.

By Oren Persico

Excluding Israel’s Arab population from public opinion polls on matters of politics and policy is ethically unacceptable, according to a ruling by an appeals tribunal of the Israeli Press Council’s Ethics Court earlier this month. The ruling overturned an earlier decision that said publishing Jews-only public opinion polls on matters relevant to the entire Israeli public was ethically acceptable. It has long been common practice among mainstream Israeli media outlets to exclude Arab citizens of Israel from public opinion polls.

The Press Council’s Ethics Tribunal found Israel Hayom, the Israeli newspaper funded by Sheldon Adelson, and Ynet, the web version of the Yedioth Aharonot newspaper, to be in violation of the Press Council’s ethics code for publishing exclusionary opinion polls. The Council also ruled that both Israel Hayom and Ynet have a week to publicize their violations of the Council’s ethics code.

For over three years, the Seventh Eye has tracked the publication of “apartheid polls,” public opinion polls that represent the views of Jews only on matters relevant to the entire Israeli public. Following criticism of this practice, several major publications that previously published Jews-only polls — including Haaretz, Army Radio, Globes (a business paper), Channel 10 News, and Channel 2 News — agreed to cease publishing such polls, or to at least report on the polls in a way that makes it clear that they represent the views of solely the Jewish Israeli public. Other publications ignored the criticism and continued to publish Jews-only polls.

Roughly a year and a half ago, Yair Tarchitsky, chairman of the Israeli Union of Journalists and a member of the Press Council’s directorate, initiated a change in the Council’s ethics code to formally prohibit the publication of discriminatory polls in Israeli media outlets. Though the change was accepted by the Press Council in 2016, numerous outlets continued, nevertheless, to publish Jews-only polls. In response, attorney Elad Man, legal advisor to the NGO Hatzlaha and chairman of the Seventh Eye, filed a complaint with the Press Council against six media outlets that published Jews-only polls: the Adelson-funded Israel Hayom, Yedioth Aharonot, Basheva (a religious-nationalist tabloid), Maariv, and The Jerusalem Post.

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Challenging Israel's secret information warfare campaign

Israel’s government is outsourcing ‘mass consciousness activities’ to private organizations, unaccountable to the public. A legal challenge in the High Court aims to stop it. 

By Itamar Benzaquen

Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs is carrying out a global propaganda campaign on behalf of the Israeli government that violates human rights and is acting without authority to do so, according to a lawsuit filed in the High Court of Justice Monday. Attorney Schachar Ben Meir’s petition demands that the High Court of Justice order a halt to the activities carried out by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, headed by Gilad Erdan.

The Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which Ben Meir calls the “Ministry of Spying and Propaganda,” is, according to the attorney, surveilling citizens and conducting illegal operations intended to influence and manipulate public opinion.

The ministry has been at the center of a series of articles published by the Seventh Eye over the past several months. The articles revealed that one of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs’ main activities is the funding and publication of government propaganda on social networks and in newspapers, which is often carried out with the help of private businesses and non-profit organizations operating in Israel and abroad.

The Israeli government recently approved the payment of NIS 128 million to a private organization called Kela-Shlomo to carry out “mass consciousness activities” within the framework of what the Ministry of Strategic Affairs calls “extra-governmental discourse.” The organization was also said to have received a donation of a similar sum from Jewish philanthropists whose names the Ministry of Strategic Affairs refused to disclose. Kela-Shlomo’s starting budget, as result, exceeds a quarter of a billion shekels. Attorney Ben-Meir is demanding that the High Court of Justice stop these activities, too.

Kela-Shlomo is a non-profit organization founded by former high-ranking government employees, including former Director General of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs Yossi Kuperwasser. Unlike a government agency, which must follow freedom of information laws and actively publish information about its donors and formal ties, Kela-Shlomo owes the public nothing – it does not even have a website (a temporary website set-up by the organization just months ago has been taken down).

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Attorney Ben Meir argues that the relationship with Kela-Shlomo is meant to enable activities that “the Israeli government is prohibited from doing,” while obscuring the fact that these activities are...

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The Israeli government is paying for anti-BDS journalism

The Israeli ministry tasked with fighting the BDS Movement is spending millions of shekels to place propaganda that looks like news in Israel’s most prominent media outlets.

By Itamar Benzaquen

The Israeli government paid the Yedioth Group, publisher of Israel’s best-selling daily newspaper, hundreds of thousands of shekels to publish articles and interviews meant to influence readers to support a campaign Israel is waging against its critics. The Strategic Affairs Ministry, headed by Minister Gilad Erdan, purchased positive coverage and the distribution of that content on the Internet.

According to information provided to “The Seventh Eye” and “Hatzlacha,” as part of a freedom of information request, the Yedioth Ahronoth Group received NIS 350,000 ($100,000) to publish journalistic articles, which were then distributed by member organizations of the “Pro-Israel Network” in Israel and around the world. The articles, according to the information furnished, were meant to motivate or enlist Israelis into the struggle.

The paid-for articles were published starting in June 2017 in the news section of Yedioth Ahronoth‘s weekend magazine, and on its website, Ynet. Like other campaigns that included purchasing articles from the newspaper, this one also included promotions in the widely-distributed weekend edition.

Alongside the paid-for articles, Ynet also published promotional videos produced by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, as well as three interviews with a ranking official at the ministry, Tzahi Gabrieli. Two of those paid-for interviews were conducted by Ynet’s senior political correspondent, Attila Somfalvi, who asked soft-ball questions that allowed him to present his talking points.

Crowdfund campaign banner

In addition to the interviews with Gabrieli, Yedioth also interviewed a string of people from various Jewish organizations that do not have direct ties to the state. The role of those organizations in the government efforts against de-legitimization and their ties to the government are unclear.

Two of those organizations, the “World Jewish Congress” and “Stand With Us,” were sponsors of Yedioth’s anti-BDS conference last year, in which senior politicians and officials from the Strategic Affairs Ministry took part. “Over the last year,” wrote journalist Reuven Weiss in one of the paid-for articles, “the boycott movement’s main base of operations in their campaign to delegitimize Israel has moved to social media, and...

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Mexico used Israeli software to spy on journalists, activists

A New York Times investigation reveals how the Mexican government used software developed by an Israeli company to hack the phones of anti-corruption lawyers and activists in Mexico.

By Edan Ring

An Israeli cyber and spyware company, NSO, is in the headlines again over its software being used to hack the phones of anti-corruption lawyers and activists in Mexico. Nonetheless, it has been considered a source of “Israeli pride.” Established by veterans of the IDF’s main intelligence unit and run out of Herzliya, NSO’s spying and eavesdropping software – and above all its Pegasus spyware — have earned it global name recognition. Last year, Apple was forced to release an iPhone security update after it was discovered that Pegasus had been used to try and hack the phone of an Emirati human rights activist. The Israeli company had almost managed to take advantage of what was then considered the most secure operating system in the world.

Pegasus is thought to be among the most sophisticated software of its kind. It allows users to remotely take over cellphones and computers, to take pictures with their cameras and record conversations with their microphones, and overall to turn them into spying devices that can pass on huge amounts of their owners’ personal information.

This software has won plaudits from across the world of cyber security, and has raked in money for NSO. The cyber outfit has been valued at around a billion dollars, amid speculation that its investment funder is looking to sell it off — a dream come true for all startup companies in the “Start-up Nation.”

Yet this “Israeli pride” is highly questionable. An expansive investigation by Canadian research center Citizen Lab, published in the New York Times this week, reveals how the Mexican government purchased the Pegasus software and used it to spy on lawyers, journalists and human rights activists working to combat state corruption.

NSO would have charged around $650,000 to track the activity of dozens of iPhones, according to documents previously presented by New York Times researchers, in addition to the $500,000 payment to install the software. Since 2011 the Mexican government has, according to the more recent investigation, paid NSO around $80 million for use of its spyware in order to monitor various human and civil rights advocates and activists.

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Netanyahu scandal exposes corruption in the Israeli press

The alleged dealing between Netanyahu and the publisher of ‘Yedioth’ reveals the driving force behind Israel’s biggest newspapers — a type of corruption that couldn’t exist in media outlets with truly independent journalists.

By Shuki Tausig

Israeli media this week revealed secretly recorded conversations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the publisher of the country’s best-selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth. The contents of the conversations, ostensibly negotiations between the two men, once again expose the bitter truth about the world of Israel’s media: it is one in which media and journalistic outlets are driven solely by economic interests. They are beholden by the owners’ bottom line, and their journalistic work is constrained and governed by external interests and illicit relationships with the subjects of their coverage.

According to the reports by Haaretz and Channel 2, the recordings are of Netanyahu and Yedioth publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes discussing a deal according to which Yedioth will alter its hostile coverage of Netanyahu. In return, Netanyahu will act to reduce the circulation of rival newspaper Israel Hayom, and perhaps even stop it from putting out a weekend magazine edition.

Such deals reiterate just how baseless many of the widespread axioms about the Israeli press and journalists are, specifically:

  • That Yedioth Ahronoth is a newspaper that is ideologically opposed to Netanyahu.
  • That Israel Hayom is an ideologically right-wing newspaper.
  • That journalists at both Yedioth and Israel Hayom operate independently and free of third-party interests.

The alleged deal demonstrates that Yedioth Ahronoth doesn’t actually have a problem with Netanyahu and Israel Hayom isn’t particularly identified with the political right. They are personal media outlets used for specific aims: Yedioth is utilized to generate profits for the ownership, controlled by Mozes. Its hostile coverage of Netanyahu is not the result of any affinity for his political opponents, and certainly not borne of ideology; it is a response to the threat posed to Yedioth’s bottom line by Netanyahu when he brought about the creation of Israel Hayom.

On the one hand, we can conclude from the alleged conversations that Israel Hayom is not the ideological mouthpiece of a silenced right wing, but rather a blunt instrument designed to serve the political maneuvers of a single politician. Out of a desire to make gains with a “left-wing” newspaper, the prime minister was willing to inflict a price on a “right-wing” paper.

Senior journalists at Israel Hayom have for...

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Report: Sharp spike in repression of Palestinian journalists

Two new reports document the growing repression of Palestinian journalists by Israeli forces last year. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Israel is currently imprisoning the same number of journalists as the Syrian regime.

By Oren Persico

Palestinian journalists have been subject to a severe increase in violations by Israeli security forces over the past several months, according to a report published by MADA — Palestinian Center for Development & Media Freedoms last week.

MADA, a Ramallah-based Palestinian NGO that tracks violations against Palestinian journalists, found 27 cases in which the rights of Palestinian journalists were violated by Israeli forces in November, as opposed to 11 in the previous month.

According to MADA, Israeli forces raided the home of a Palestinian journalist from the West Bank village Salfit. He was detained and interrogated for alleged incitement on his Facebook page. A journalist from Hebron was arrested and interrogated over a film he produced a year and half ago on Palestinian hunger strikers. In one case in the Jordan Valley, Israeli security forces fired tear gas and pepper spray at nine Palestinian journalists, in an attempt to prevent them from covering a demonstration against home demolitions. MADA also reported that Israeli forces raided three printing houses and one media outlet, confiscating and sabotaging printing equipment.

Furthermore, Palestinian security forces summoned a local journalist for interrogation over his work, and arrested another journalist during a live broadcast of a soccer game.

According to the IDF Spokesperson, the army “is constantly working to maintain security and enforce law and order in Judea and Samaria, while allowing freedom of the press and reporting in the area. As part of the war against terror and incitement, the army takes action against printing houses that serve as the source for materials used for incitement and terrorism.”

Earlier in December, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) published a report on the number of jailed journalists around the world. According to the report, there are currently seven journalists in Israeli jails, less than Turkey (81), China (38), Eritrea (17), Ethiopia (16), Vietnam and Iran (8 each). Yet Israel is not in good company: seven journalists are currently jailed in both Syria and Bahrain.

According to CPJ, these are the Palestinian journalists in Israeli prisons:

Ali Aliwiwe is the host of an evening news program on Radio 4. He was arrested by Israeli security forces at his home in the...

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'When the media doesn't talk to Arabs, coverage of them is negative'

New research finds a direct correlation between negative media coverage of Arab society in Israel and the exclusion of Arab voices and interviewees in that coverage.

By Oren Persico

The participation of Arab interviewees in Israeli news items relating to Arab society in the country has a  correlation on the content and tone of the reporting, new research published by Israeli NGO Sikkuy last month has concluded. (Full disclosure: The Seventh Eye partnered with Sikkuy for its ‘Representation Index’ project.)

The research project, conducted by Edan Ring along with the Ifat Group, examined news coverage of Arab citizens of Israel in the Hebrew-language media during October 2015, a month in which a serious escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict took place, including almost daily attacks against Jewish Israelis.

According to the researchers’ conclusions, the mainstream Israeli media covered Arab citizens of Israel particularly negatively during that period, largely by excluding them entirely as interviewees. However, the research also found that in the few items on Arab society in Israel in which an Arabic-speaker was included, the tone of the item was notably more positive.

The research looked at 1,096 news items relating to Arab citizens of Israel published or broadcast on the three major television stations, two leading news radio stations, and six leading print and online news outlets (in total, 13 percent of all news items relating to the escalating violence that month).

Roughly half of those news items were of negative character or tone, the research found. Only one-quarter were positive stories, and the rest were found to be of either mixed or neutral tone.

“Coverage of Arab citizens during this period suffered from especially negative framing and tone,” the Sikkuy report said.

The most negative coverage was on television (57 percent of news items were negative and only 11 percent positive), with print media doing slightly better (43 percent of news items were negative and 35 percent were positive). The numbers for print media, however, were not necessarily representative of all print coverage because Haaretz, which was particularly positive, brought up the average percentage of positive stories.

The research by Sikkuy also confirmed a finding from the “Representation Index,” which touches on the exclusion of Arab interviewees in media coverage that discusses Arab society. According to their research, only 31 percent of news items that deal with Arab citizens of Israel included an Arabic speaker. In other words, only 69 percent of...

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Trump on Adelson: 'Good paper, owned by a great guy'

Donald Trump lays the compliments on Sheldon Adelson, the Netanyahu backer who recently pledged his support for the Republican nominee. But Trump hasn’t always had nice things to say about Adelson and his money.

By Shuki Tausig

At rally in Nevada last week, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump mentioned Sheldon Adelson, the American casino mogul and patron of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

“Did you read that in your good paper? Good paper, owned by a great guy — Sheldon, Sheldon, Sheldon Adelson,” Trump as part of an attack on the Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama’s flagship healthcare program.

The “great paper” he referred to is the Las Vegas Review Journal, the largest newspaper in Nevada, which Adelson anonymously purchased last year. The identity of the purchaser was only revealed through investigative journalism by the paper’s reporters, who found that he paid significantly more than market value.

The paper’s journalists went on to write a series of articles critical of Adelson and the new ownership’s attempts to influence the editorial line. That is, until its top editors and writers were replaced and the critical voices were silenced.

Back at the rally last week, Trump made sure to note that Adelson is a “big supporter of Israel.” Perhaps the largest donor to Republican political campaigns this season (though he has given far less than the $100 million he donated in the 2012 campaign), Adelson sat on the fence in the current election until he announced his support for Trump in May.

A few weeks ago, Adelson pledged $25 million to a Super PAC supporting Trump, according to The Guardian. In Israel, Adelson’s newspaper Israel Hayom provides favorable coverage of the Republican presidential candidate.

Trump, for his part, has held numerous positions on Israel during the campaign, not all of which have sat well with Adelson’s views, the most memorable of which was when he said Washington should be neutral toward Israel.

It is worth noting that Trump did not always think of Adelson as a “great guy.” When the casino mogul had pledged support for Republican rival Marco Rubio’s campaign in October 2015, Trump tweeted: “Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!”

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Israel's surefire way of keeping its citizens in the dark

The Israeli establishment used to rely on the IDF Censor to make sure the media didn’t ask questions. Nowadays it uses court-sanctioned gag orders.

By Shuki Tausig

Did you hear about…and about…or what about…how could you have missed that? After all, we are talking about newsworthy events, the kind that open the 8 o’clock news. So how come you didn’t hear about them?

You didn’t hear about them because the police/Shin Bet/some other body rushed to ask the court to issue a gag order on the attack/investigation/affair. The courts usually serve as a rubber stamp in these cases, especially in cases when security is somehow involved. A representative of the system comes in with “classified intelligence,” and the judge, usually of a lower court, makes the story disappear.

So how did you not hear about the gag order? Because the gag order, the Big Brother of the Israeli media, has a younger brother: a gag order on the existence of the gag order. Like the Cat in the Hat who pulls out endless cats from his top hat until the Cat himself is no longer visible, the institution of gag orders is built in such a way that leaves the public with nothing.

Once upon a time we used to have the IDF Censor. Well, we still do, but they no longer act like tyrants. The court system — the same one that rushes to issue scandalous gag orders — has restrained the court system and forced it into leniency. If in the past the censor could redact to its heart’s content, the high-profile case Schnitzer v. Chief Military Censor, which reached the High Court in 1989, compelled the military to explicitly state that there is a “near certainty that the publication will cause substantial and grave harm to security.”

It is true that this is both convenient and flexible, and the the IDF Censor still redacts, whether entirely or partially, thousands of articles a year. But this is not enough for the various arms of the establishment. They do not want to debate with media outlets, explain themselves to journalists, or start to compromise over partial censorship. They want radio silence, and immediately. With time they learned to use not only the IDF Censor but also, and perhaps mainly, gag orders.

Read: IDF Censor redacts 1 in 5 articles it reviews

It is true that many times there...

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'Thou shall not discriminate': New rules for Israeli journalists

The Israel Press Council approves a change to ethics rules that forbids journalists and media outlets from discriminating against and excluding certain populations from their coverage. Among those opposing the change: the editor of ‘Israel Hayom’ and the publisher of ‘Haaretz.’

By Oren Persico

The Israel Press Council last month approved a change to the Rules of Journalistic Ethics according to which media outlets should not discriminate against various population segments or exclude them from their coverage. The change, which was put forth by Union of Journalists in Israel chairman Yair Tarchitsky, was approved 14 to 4, with one abstention. Among those who opposed the measure were representatives of Israeli newspaper publishers — Aharon Lapidot of Israel Hayom and Amos Shoken of Haaretz.

Tarchitsky began pushing for the change at the beginning of 2016, and came in response to media-initiated public opinion polls that sampled only the Jewish population of Israel — a problem that has been covered here by The Seventh Eye — and the ongoing exclusion of news coverage concerning the Arab population of Israel, a phenomenon exposed and documented in recent months by the “Representation Index,” a project of Sikkuy, the Berl Katznelson Foundation, The Seventh Eye, and Yifat Media Research.

After a number of meetings and debates on the proposed change to the ethics rules, the matter was finally brought for a vote late last month. The final version adds four words (the Hebrew is shorter) to the Rules of Journalistic Ethics, so that it now reads (emphasis added):

The difference between the two versions is small but significant. The previous version, that which was in place until now, forbade publications that encouraged racism or unlawful discrimination. The new version forbids media outlets themselves from excluding or discriminating against various population segments.

Along with Tarchitsky, support for the new rule was led by new members of the Press Council — journalists Tal Schneider, Ilil Shahar, Danny Gutweind, and Elad Man (chairman of The Seventh Eye). Among the most prominent people opposing it was Aharon Lapidot, deputy editor of Israel Hayom, a newspaper that regularly publishes public opinion polls that sample only Jews.

According to Press Council members who were present for the vote, Lapidot claimed that the company that provides the newspaper with its public opinion polls, New Wave Research, cannot conduct overnight flash polls that include the entire Israeli population, and that it always includes a disclosure about the identity of...

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Palestinian journalist jailed by Israel was arrested for criticizing PA, lawyer says

Israel has been holding Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal without charge or trial for over four months. In an interview, his attorney says that is because he criticized the PA over its handling of an assassination at its embassy in Bulgaria.

By Oren Persico and Nimrod Halberthal

This past April, Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal set out to travel from his home in the West Bank to a conference of the European Federation of Journalists in Sarajevo. Until about a year ago, Nazzal, 53, was the head of the West Bank-based radio station “Palestine al-Youm,” but left a short while before the station was shut down by the Israeli army. Ever since, he has worked as a freelancer, writing and publishing with various platforms.

When Nazzal arrived at the Israeli-controlled Allenby Bridge border crossing from the West Bank into Jordan, however, the Israeli army arrested him. Ever since Israel has been holding him in administrative detention, which was recently extended until November. The Shin Bet claims the arrest is related to Nazzal being a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and that his arrest is not related to his work as a journalist. Nazzal’s attorney, Mahmoud Hassan, believes the opposite is true.

“He’s a political journalist,” Atty. Hassan told journalists Oren Persico and Nimrod Halberthal on their radio show, Kol Ha’ayin. “He writes excellent articles and an audience that follows every word that he writes. Because it is an administrative detention arrest, we don’t know why he was arrested but we are of the opinion that he was arrested after writing an article about the case of Omar al-Naif.” Al-Naif was a PFLP member who was convicted in the 1986 murder of a Jewish man in Jerusalem, but who managed to escape from the country. In February of this year he was murdered on the grounds of the Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria, where he had been seeking refuge after Israel sought his extradition.

“Nazzal’s arrest at the Allenby border crossing took place after security coordination with the Palestinian Authority, which told him that a travel ban on him leaving the country had been lifted, that the path was clear and that he could travel. Therefore, we suspect his arrest was planned ahead of time by both Israel and the PA, because he caused a headache for the PA with the articles he wrote about al-Naif. Nazzal wrote articles...

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