In a most embarrassing climax to the Anat Kamm-Uri Blau saga, Kamm announced she would sue Uri Blau and Haaretz for $600,000 for revealing her as the source for the reporter’s articles about IDF assassinations.
While I sympathize with her plight, and believe Haaretz’s then-editors bear some responsibility for her exposure, her position (and I should make clear that I’m not a lawyer and not familiar with provisions of the law in this case) is shocking. When you become a whistleblower, the reporter telling your story doesn’t bestow immunity from prosecution upon you. You both realize (especially in Israel) that you’re liable to be prosecuted, if exposed. The best a newspaper or reporter can do is protect your identity and offer assistance if you get in trouble. But how can Haaretz be held responsible for her imprisonment?
What especially stings is that Kamm is specifically demanding that Blau be made to pay a substantial amount of the claim from his own pocket. She seems to reserve a special place in journalist Hell for him.
Further, if Kamm truly passed the documents to Blau as she claims because she feared that they exposed Israeli war crimes, shouldn’t she be prepared to fight against the State for her right to be a whistleblower? Shouldn’t she blame the State for her predicament, rather than Blau or Haaretz?
According to this Haaretz article (Walla’s report for Hebrew speakers), her argument makes almost no sense. She claims that she was exposed because Blau returned to the Shin Bet the documents she’d given him. This supposedly allowed the security services to discover she was the source.
But according to my reporting, she was exposed by a former Shin Bet agent, Yonatan Dahoach-Halevi, who carefully reviewed the memos which Haaretz foolishly published in full in the paper. The former intelligence officer noted the personnel referenced in the memos and discovered they had to have originated in the office of the commander of Central Command, Yair Naveh. From there, it was a straight shot for the Shin Bet to her.
My understanding is that Blau didn’t return any documents to the Shin Bet until well after she’d been arrested. So either I’ve mistaken the history or she’s concocting a revisionist narrative of events.
Another of her arguments also seems preposterous. She claims because she knew Blau was bound by the same laws of censorship as any Israeli reporter that he would not endanger her by publishing any material that violated Israeli law or censorship. She’s claiming that it was his fault for publishing top-secret documents even though she gave them to him. Even though she was only 21 years old at the time, even a naïve person should know that any document you give a reporter may end up published. If you don’t want to document published you don’t give it to him.
All of this hits close to home for me because I too received top-secret documents from Shamai Leibowitz, an act for which he went to prison. But in my situation I protected his identity. I certainly didn’t publish the actual documents themselves as Haaretz did. Though Shamai was exposed, it was not by me. I kept his secret until after he was released from prison, when I felt it was important for the world to know what we’d done together and why.
Shamai paid a very high price for what he did. Far too high a price thanks to the whistleblower-busting Obama administration. His prosecution, like Kamm’s was unjust. But he did what he did for principle. I only hope that Anat Kamm has similar principles in mind in pursuing this legal action. I fear she does not.