Yesterday, I wrote a somewhat uncharitable post asking people to vote in the Brass Crescent competition for Best Non-Muslim blog. I recommended voting for several blogs and not voting for one in particular. While I don’t take back what I wrote about Lisa Goldman or her blog, I feel chastened by the fact that the Israeli press today revealed that she and two other journalists are being investigated by the Israeli police for reporting from Lebanon. Why should that be you might rightly ask? What’s wrong with Lebanon? Well, it appears that in the twisted minds of some Israeli right-wing politicians and police officials Lebanon is an enemy state and those who visit it are betraying the State in some vague way.
Lisa is one of those journalists. She reported from Lebanon twice for Channel 10. I want to make clear that whatever quarrels I have had with her, I support her right to report from Lebanon and excoriate the Israeli police for attempting to criminalize the profession of journalism. Goldman and the other two reporters were doing what any good reporter would do–finding a good story and telling your audience about it. Lebanon is Israel’s neighbor and therefore an important journalistic story. Israel fought a war against Lebanon in 2006. It is now in the midst of social and political upheaval that could have a great impact on the prospects for peace with Israel. It’s only natural that Israeli reporters go there. Israelis want to know about Lebanon–why shouldn’t they go?
The fact that the Israeli police want to prevent such associations indicates how much certain political echelons within Israel fear rapprochement with Israel’s Arab neighbors. Based on this statement I’m convinced that right-wing politicians leaked reports of the investigation:
Lisa Goldman confirmed…that she had been interrogated a month ago, but expressed great surprise that details of the investigation had emerged, given that the police had told her not to discuss it.
“I have no idea who leaked this story,” she said. “I was completely flabbergasted when an Israeli reporter telephoned me today to inform me that the investigation had been announced…I have no idea who leaked it and very surprised that it’s now been released. The police told me not to discuss the interrogation and I didn’t. Therefore I am very surprised that the matter is now being exposed in the media.”
I did find one aspect of Lisa’s comments about her experience odd though. First, she says she did not realize visiting Lebanon was against the law. She went there on behalf of one of Israel’s main TV stations and no one there realized she was committing a potentially illegal act? I’d feel a whole lot better if she and her bosses HAD realized the legal implications and deliberately decided to go anyway and dared the police to charge them. That’s the sort of thing Uri Avnery and Abie Natan used to do all the time. That was gutsy journalism.
Lisa, on the other hand, told Haaretz that she would never have gone if she’d known it was against the law. That’s one of the problems I have with Lisa as a political blogger. I wish she would’ve said instead if she’d realized it was against the law then “hell yes I would’ve gone anyway.” Instead she seems to be toeing a party line. Now, it could be she was directed by attorneys to respond in this way. In which case she may not feel free to speak her mind. But I’d guess that she was speaking her own mind in trying to “walk back the dog” and say she wouldn’t have gone.
In closing, I wish Lisa well in this fight and we should all be there to back her up. If Israel is a real democracy it should not criminalize the reporting of the news.