Now that the gag order is lifted, we should remember what’s at the heart of the Kamm affair

Posted: April 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media, war | Tags: , , , , , | 23 Comments »
anat kamm

Anat Kamm at court

The gag order over the Anat Kamm case has been lifted today. This ends the first stage of this affair, in which Israel’s security authorities tried to prosecute and jail a citizen behind closed doors, without the public even hearing about the case. Due to collective effort by bloggers and activists in Israel and elsewhere, they failed.

But the case itself isn’t over yet. Ironically, the lifting of the gag order might actually hurt Anat Kamm, as the authorities try to change the public framing of the case from that of freedom of speech and due process to espionage. This was the massage in the briefing that was personally given by the head of Shin Beit Yuval Diskin to Israeli reporters today.

Link to English translation of the Indictment against Anat Kamm

Public atmosphere is extremely hostile to both Anat and Haaretz newspaper right now. Ynet, Israel’s most popular news site, has called her “the soldier spy”, and their military analyst, Ron Ben-Yishay, accused her of risking the life of Israeli soldiers.

This is the time to remind people what’s at the heart of this matter: Anat Kamm did Israeli democracy a great service. She exposed the fact that senior IDF generals, including Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, knowingly violated our own supreme court ruling by ordering the assassinations of Palestinians even when it was possible to arrest them, and when it was known innocent people might be killed. Again, this is not about Left or Right. It is about generals defying court orders.

The IDF and Shin Beit want the world to forget this. This is why they wanted to keep this case in the dark, and this is why they will work twice as hard to turn the public against Anat.


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.