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WATCH: New York Times and Al Jazeera commentary on Anat Kamm

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 appeared on Al Jazeera International to discuss the immediate implications of Kamm’s sentence. Watch it below.

Finally, for Hebrew readers – on Monday I had the chance to elaborate some of the arguments made in my last week’s post about Palestinian prisoners in a Haaretz op-ed.

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    1. RichardNYC

      Its a good thing you went on Al Jazeera because I’m sure that, just like you, the anchor/network really just want to make sure that the Israeli press has a healthy ability to criticize the IDF so that soldiers can do their jobs and protect Israeli civilians all while maintaining high ethical standards! 🙂 Or maybe they’re putting this one in the “not a democracy” file, right next to the “Gaza=Warsaw” file.

      Reply to Comment
    2. When you enter the military you lose some freedom of expression, and certainly the entry documents commit you from revealing classified information. I have, on another thread, made a legal argument that, if revealed documents point to “war crimes” or simply violating High Court orders, the Court could rule that irrespective of Kamm’s military oath the State can not prosecute her. If, that is, the documents do reveal such things. The IDF loses nothing if it adhears to Israeli law; if it does not, some brave to unthinking person can expose them, assuming the risk that violations are real. It is not a perfect solution, but it avoids locking in either pure military control or unlimited license to reveal material for “freedom of the press.”
      .
      Israel has no objective protection for freedom of the press. In the US, the Pentagon Papers case would protect Uri Blau. The Penagon Papers, leaked to the New York Times by Dainel Elsberg, dealt partly with war game simulations of the then current Vietnam War. These games, played by American military officers, lead to the victory of North Vietnam and the Vietcong. Elsberg, involved in the games, thought this conclusion should be made public; the Pentagon did not. Something to ponder. I doubt the High Court would make the same stand. There is no constitutional text, and, in any case, such a ruling would likely induce the present Knesset to legislate, nullifying the ruling. Which brings us once again to the slow motion constitutional crisis on the power of the Court, and whether constitutional law really can exist in Israel. For what it’s worth, I do not see the Declaration of Independence protecting Blau.
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      Richard,
      You say you are a pragmatist but engage in slurring Reider by attacking his venue. Al Jazeera refused the former Egyptian government’s demand of silence during the demonstrations. Deal with his content and stop attack by origin. Some people do that to Jews.
      A pragmatist does not insite but looks for a solution.

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    3. AYLA

      On a related note, just read a report that israeli doctors who examine palestinian prisoners aren’t reporting signs of torture. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Physicians-for-Human-Rights-Israel-רופאים-לזכויות-אדם-ישראל/164306561501
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      richard–al jazeera is a respected news outlet, and arab viewers will consider Israel more favorably, not less, after seeing an Israeli reporter reporting this story, and after being aware of the efforts of Anat Kamm. If you just want us to portray ourselves only as Good and Right, I’ve got news for you: it won’t work. And in fact, it backfires, because they know better (to say the least) and resent, perhaps more than anything, our lack of humility and self-awareness.

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    4. RichardNYC

      @AYLA
      Al Jazeera’s editorial content has a record of using anti/non-Zionist Jews to undermine Israel’s legitimacy (e.g. Arab Jews are “not the enemy”, Mya Guarnieri promoting BDS). Though its an empirical question neither of us are in a position to answer, I think its very unlikely that Al Jazeera’s audience is reform-minded when it comes to things like Anat Kamm. Al Jazeera content on other political issues in the middle east, and their longer programs that are accessible online are great, and I watch them all the time. Big ups to Al Jazeera, just not on Israel stuff. Their Israel coverage typically has a lot of factual and legal mistakes, aside from bias.

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    5. Richard,
      If you are saying that media use what they present–no kidding. But why not deal solely with Reider’s content? Perhaps he is trying to use Al Jazeera as they try to use him. Your arguments remain destruction by origin on this point. And Jews, byeond many, many others, know where that can go. Simply, you are better than that. Judaism is better than that.

      Reply to Comment
    6. RichardNYC

      @GREG POLLOCK
      I don’t understand the second part of your comment, but to answer the first part: Its true, I am not addressing the content directly, but I still think my point is worth considering. If Dimi is trying to influence the Israeli government to go easy on ppl like Anat, he’s barking up the wrong tree going on Al Jazeera because it doesn’t reach the Israeli public. Or does it? Is Israeli coverage of this event lacking compared to Al Jazeera? Likewise, if he went on PressTV (a more extreme example), his contribution would have a perverse effect. Generally, journalistic content like this is justified using something like the Pentagon Papers affair as a precedent: leaks about bad things can influence the public. But in the context of the Israeli/Arab/Muslim conflict, talking to people who are unsympathetic to Israel’s existence is not going to do anything about reforming the system. MAYBE I’M WRONG. Its just an opinion. If someone wants to argue that Al Jazeera has a progressive effect on the Israeli justice system, LET ME KNOW!

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    7. RichardNYC

      @GREG POLLOCK
      “You say you are a pragmatist but engage in slurring Reider by attacking his venue. Al Jazeera refused the former Egyptian government’s demand of silence during the demonstrations. Deal with his content and stop attack by origin. Some people do that to Jews.
      A pragmatist does not insite but looks for a solution.”
      –> I did not slur Dimi. This is not a serious accusation I hope. My comments are entirely pragmatic – that’s all they are. I wasn’t suggesting Dimi be silent, just that he direct his story to an outlet that might actually have some influence in reforming what he disagrees with. The PROBLEM, it seems, is that there is a big market for coverage that is simply resentful of Israel, and that, tempting though it might be, it is not actually progress/reform-minded to feed it.

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