Regarding “The Affair”

Posted: April 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

Most of the readers of this blog should know by now about the gag order regarding a certain investigation of an Israeli journalist, and about Haaretz’s correspondent hiding in London. If you don’t, do as Yedioth Ahronoth daily advised its readers a few days ago, and type on google news the words “Israeli journalist” and “gag order”.

There will be much to talk about when the gag order is lifted. This, I imagine, will happen soon, as the flow of information on the internet makes the entire effort to hide the case look more like a political issue than a real security concern. If readers in The Emirates know about the story, why can’t Israelis?

I just hope that when the order is lifted, people will remember what started the entire affair. The heart of this case is not the media or the allegations against a certain reporter. It’s about a cover-up attempt for the fact that senior officers in the Israeli Army, including Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, knowingly violated the Supreme Court orders as well as international laws by ordering the assassination of Palestinians even when it was possible to capture the suspects alive. If this was indeed the liberal democracy some people believe Israel to be, these officers would have been forced to resign and prosecuted. There is no chance of this happening.

Having said that, I do have something to say regarding the role journalists played in this affair so far.

Israeli journalists knew of the arrest for several months now, but were forbidden by court order to write or say anything about it (the central figure in the affair also asked them personally not to write anything, having been told by authorities that keeping quiet is in her best interest). Media organizations tried, and still do, to appeal this decision, but until the gag order is lifted, it will be impossible to publish anything on the mainstream media here.

This order applies to foreign press in Israel as well, but for reporters from other countries it would have been much easier to get the story out. After all, no one thinks that Israel will shut down the NYT or CNN office here if they were to brake the story outside Israel (obviously, not under the local reporters’ names). For their own reasons, top correspondent, including some from the US, who knew of the story for a long time now, decided to keep it for themselves. It is very easy to talk about the way Israeli journalists are biased or how they are fed by government and army sources, but what about international reporters? Wasn’t it time they start turning stones?

To the best of my knowledge, the first to write on the story was Americen blogger Richard Silverstein, followed by JTA‘s Ron Kampeas. Silverstein, who is a vocal critic of Israel, is a favorite target of many pro-Israeli and Jewish bloggers. He has been wrong on some issues in the past (who wasn’t?), and I myself don’t always agree with everything he says or the way he says it, but in this case alone, Silverstein did Israeli democracy a better service than all his loudmouth critics, combined.

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