What happened to the previous Anat Kamm?

Posted: April 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

History repeating itself, with slight changes.

8 years ago, a soldier who served as a secretary in an IDF regional HQ, handed some classified documents to (then) Kol Ha-Ir reporter (a local paper from Haaretz group), one Uri Blau. The documents had to do with a charge that was set off in Gaza and Killed 5 Palestinian children.

The army started an internal investigation and was able to trace the soldier who leaked the documents. She was tried by her CO and sentenced to 35 days in army prison.

Around the same time, an IDF Brigadier general was forced to retire from the service after leaking to reporters the content of a classified meeting with the Chief of Staff.

Read the report from 2002 on Ynet [Hebrew] (hat tip: Amitai Sandi).

Anat Kamm, a former secretary in an IDF HQ, was recently charged with espionage for leaking secret army documents to Haaretz’s reporter, Uri Blau. An article based on two of the documents suggested 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.


(illustration by Mish)

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.

Yedioth challenges Israeli censorship, publishes Judith Miller’s article blacked out

Posted: April 6th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

This is how page 9 of Israel’s most popular tabloid, Yedioth Ahronoth, looked like today.


The item shown is a translation of Judith Millers’ account of the Anat Kamm affair in The Daily Beast (downloadable PDF version here). The blacked out parts make the Hebrew text meaningless, thus forcing readers ask themselves what is it exactly that they don’t know.

[The answer: that the state is trying to secretly punish the source of a front page story in Haaretz, which reveled that senior IDF generals, including Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, knowingly violated Supreme Court ruling by ordering the assassinations of Palestinians who could have been captured alive.]

Tel Aviv court is about to rule next week on a request by Haaretz and Channel 10 to lift the gag order on the affair, which also caused Haaretz’s correspondent Uri Blau to flee to London.

By publishing the blacked text, Israel’s leading tabloid is signaling the court that if the gag order isn’t lifted, the paper might publish more details, and force security authorities as well as the court to decide whether they want to go head to head with the media. My guess is that the court will give up, and the gag order will be lifted.

Talk radio host Nathan Zehavi revealed details of the affair on his show today.

In 1984 the tabloid Hadashot (published by Haaretz’s owner, Amos Shoken) was shut down for three days after publishing a picture which proved that two terrorists were killed cold-bloodedly by Shin Beit after being captured alive. The affair ended in the resignation of the head of Shin Beit. But these were different times.

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.

Holy war: army Rabbinate in charge now of IDF’s “fighting spirit” / PL exclusive

Posted: August 28th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Right, war | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »
bri-gen avichai rontzki, head of the army Rabbinate

bri-gen Avichai Rontzki, head of the army Rabbinate

The influence of radical Jewish thinking is spreading throughout the ranks of the IDF. The official IDF site is now stating that the role of the army Rabbinate – previously limited to providing the soldiers’ religious needs – includes now also a responsibility over the army’s “fighting spirit”.

The Rabbinate is providing on the army’s web site weekly lessons from the Torah portions, to be passed to the soldiers by the units’ Rabbis. These lessons include sometimes references to “holy war” and analogies between biblical battles and those of recent days.

Read the rest of this entry »

The most moral army in the world

Posted: March 23rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, war | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

It is common knowledge that when a person repeats what supposed to be a self-evident truth too many times – like a mantra – he probably suspects that this “truth” might not be true at all.

This probably goes for nations as well.

Israel Defense Forces Chief Gabi Ashkenazi said Sunday that he did not believe Israeli soldiers harmed Palestinian civilians in “cold blood” during the offensive in the Gaza Strip.

 ”I can say that the IDF is the most moral army in the world,” Ashkenazi told a group of new recruits

 (In other words: what’s the point in insisting all the time we have “the most moral army in the world”? claiming we have “a moral army” would do just fine. Why do we have to be “the most moral”, unless we have this sub-conscious suspicion that we are not moral at all?)