Shin Bet Seeks Expulsion of American-Jewish Journalist Working for Palestinian News Agency
The Only Democracy in the Middle East™ has struck again: the English editor for the independent Palestinian news agency Maan, American Jared Malsin, was detained along with his girlfriend at Ben Gurion airport on his return to Israel from a European vacation. During the detention it became clear that the Shin Bet intended to expel him from Israel as a security risk. It provided no justification whatsoever. And when Malsin notified the U.S. embassy of his predicament and they called to inquire, security officials lied by claiming neither individual was in custody and that they were probably “enjoying a night on the town in Tel Aviv” and had simply forgotten to notify them.
Look, I understand this is garden variety harassment when it comes to Israel. Palestinians are treated far worse. Indeed, three Gaza journalists were killed during Cast Lead, one by an Israeli tank shell fired despite the victim being clearly marked as a journalist. But what stands out here is the sheer effrontery of Israel’s Interior Ministry expelling a U.S. citizen and journalist from its shores merely for reporting inconvenient facts about Israel’s maintenance of the Occupation. The security establishment doesn’t shrink from tangling with Israel’s most important ally nor from violating one of the most treasured traditions of western democracies: freedom of the press.
Maan quickly filed an injunction staying the expulsion order and the Israeli attorney general filed for the court to remove the stay. Luckily, the Israeli district judge refused to lift the stay and Malsin will live to fight another day, but barely. Unless there is a furious outcry both from inside and outside Israel chances are a judicial system inherently biased in favor of state power when it comes to security issues will likely acquiesce with the decision to expel the journalist.
Since he was arrested Tuesday, Malsin has been allowed only one 20 minute meeting with his lawyer and permitted contact with a single U.S. consular official. His personal belongings have been put in herem and he is not allowed access to them (when Malsin first boarded the flight back to Israel in Prague, security agents confiscated his cell phone so he could not inform his employer or U.S. diplomats of his situation).
Lying scumbag PR flack Mark Regev labelled as “absurd” claims that the action comes in retaliation for Maan’s coverage of rather unpleasant events like the weekly Bilin anti-Wall protests at which several Palestinians and an American have been murdered or maimed with severe brain injuries. But Israeli immigration officials seem not to have been on the same page:
…The official explanation offered by the country’s own immigration department cited news stories Malsin had authored “inside the Territories,” among them some which “criticized the State of Israel.”
The Interior Ministry makes the vague claim he was detained because he was ‘uncooperative’ during questioning:
An official report on the questioning, which Maan said it had received from the court, accused Mr Malsin of failing to arrange the correct visa, but did not give details.
It said he was suspected of “exploiting the fact that he is Jewish to gain a visa”. This was apparently on the basis that, when seeking a visa extension previously, he had told Interior Ministry officials he was exploring the option of emigrating to Israel, but had written articles critical of the country. By law Jews from around the world are eligible to emigrate to Israel.
The report also said Mr Malsin had refused to give the name of the friend he said he lived with in the West Bank.
This might have made Israeli officials even angrier:
…Mr Malsin, a graduate of Yale University, had initially come to Israel on the Birthright programme, which funds visits to Israel for young Jewish Americans.
Mr Malsin had never overstayed a visa, except for his most recent one, which was a few days overdue and that he had been told by officials this did not matter, Mr Hale said.
Whoa, biting the hand that feeds, Mr. Malsin. You’re only allowed to come on a Birthright tour if you expect to make aliyah or return to the States to make Jewish-Zionist babies. It’s simply bad form to take the free trip AND exploit the Law of Return in order to write nasty articles about Israel. If he had only gone to work for Israel HaYom, he would’ve been welcomed with a ticker tape parade and given the keys to the kingdom or a settlement or two.
Maan even reports that some Israeli officials have expressed concern and opposition to the violation of press freedoms.
Several major press freedom NGOs have expressed support for Malsin:
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which monitors freedom of the press worldwide, urged Israel to refrain from taking punitive action against reporters over specific content in their work. “Israel cannot hide behind the pretext of security to sideline journalists who have done nothing more than maintain an editorial line that the authorities dislike,” the organization said.
The 2009 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index ranks Israel 93rd (out of 175) behind other Middle Eastern countries like Kuwait, Lebanon and United Arab Emirates. Press freedom in the Israeli Occupied Territories is ranked 150th. Now we see a perfect example of why.
Malsin’s girlfriend, a Lutheran peace activist, has already been deported by Israel. She, alas, was not a journalist and had no protections from Israel’s wrath. And Israel didn’t even have to explain what sort of security risk she posed as a Christian adherent of non-violence.
H/t to Rupa Shah.
18 thoughts on “Shin Bet Seeks Expulsion of American-Jewish Journalist Working for Palestinian News Agency – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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This story certainly does Israel proud as a democratic, open and free society………….WHAT? Come again…..
Thank you Mr Silverstein.
It’s bordering on fascism when a government detains a journalist for writing unflattering articles, this is a given, but here we are with yet another example of the lunacy the Israeli government is engaging in, on a day-to-day basis.
A lot of us have been aware of Mr. Malsin’s situation and have called and written to our Congressmen and to the US Embassy insisting that pressure be placed on the Israeli government to allow Mr. Malsin back into Israel.
The ludicrousness of this episode is as noteworthy as its alarming nature, because if Israel wants to lock up or expel journalists who are critical of its actions, it’s got one hell of a big job to do. Expelling Mr Malsin would be just a drop in the bucket.
Ian Lustick commented at your conference in Seattle, Richard, that nobody could report on Israel’s nuclear posture and remain in Israel; Lustick said, “XXX (Cohen?) had to move to the US” after writing about that which shall not be named.
Was he granted protected status as one who was forced to flee his country due to fear of political persecution?
Please provide more details about Israel’s policies regarding censoring discussion of nuclear ‘ambiguity,’ and about Israel’s apparent practice of exiling Israeli Jews to the US. (btw, is the US forced to admit them? Is there some reciprocal arrangement such that Israel might be expected to accept persons expelled from US — maybe folks from Abu Ghraib?
Google Mordechai Vanunu.
Lustick meant Avner Cohen, an Israeli author who:
1. wrote about the fashion factory in Dimona
2. was self-exiled because he didn’t cooperate with the military censorship and didn’t want to face trial.
3. has a new book coming out. Amazon him.
4, currently negotiates with The security establishment about making amends and let him return to Israel if the new book is up to stand darts, let bygones be bygones.
5. appears in Haaretz from time to time, Google him too.
“Richard: Look, I understand this is garden variety harassment when it comes to Israel. Palestinians are treated far worse…The security establishment doesn’t shrink …from violating one of the most treasured traditions of western democracies: freedom of the press.”
You can add the Raed Salah story, who is/was:
1. leader of the Northern Islamic movement of Palestinians with Israeli ID’s, (the movement is a Muslim Brotherhood inspired group, their words).
2. sentenced this week to 10 months in prison for spitting on a Magav cop.
3. “spitted also on the rule of law”, a smug DA told Israeli TV.
4. featured in a TAU event a couple of years ago, in which Jews weren’t allowed in for security reasons, i was around that day, had classes.
5. an Israeli citizen, but boycotting the elections, unlike the Southern Movement.
6. Google him.
You’re so stupid you don’t realize that Avner Cohen himself will hear about the lies & distortions you attempt to spread about him. What always amazes me is that the hasbarists spread this bullshit & a) believe what they say; b) believe that someone here will believe what they say; and c) don’t realize that the victim of their lies is only an e mail away from exposing their stupidity.
I’m certain that yr claim that Avner Cohen is negotiating with the Shin Bet with his hat in his hand & begging for a chance to make amends is, once again, pure bullshit.
As for Raed Salah, nice of you to call him a Palestinian “with Israeli ID,” by which you mean a Palestinian Israeli with Israeli citizenship. Why is it so difficult for you to admit this inconvenient fact?? It must torture you that Ben Gurion, as Morris concedes, didn’t do his damndest to expel even more than the 700,000 who were exiled in 48.
As for spitting on a policeman, you mean allegedly spittin on a policeman. Here we understand the charade of Israeli justice when it comes to the thugs in the Border Police who trump up charges which judges ratify because they’re too chicken shit to actually call the police on their shenanigans. Want to put away an Arab? Grab him by the balls, rough him up, videotape the assault, then accuse HIM of assaulting you. Bull Connor would be proud if he’s looking up at you from the place he belongs.
E-mail Prof. Cohen, i think you can through Haaretz.com, ask him about the decision to close the case of “Israel and the Bomb” a few months ago by Israeli authorities. fyi, i didn’t say or meant he “begged”, i’m glad you’re certain tho.
I wrote Palestinians “with Israeli ID” because that is how the Islamic Movement members in Israel refer to themselves, both branches.
So do other, non-IM Arab/Muslims political leaders, you never hear MKs Tibi (Secular) or Barake (Communist) or Baladists use Palestinian-Israelis or Palestinian Israelis, American PC terms.
Palestinan-Americans are not the same as Palestinians who live in Israel (another definition they use btw), in case you want to point to that straw man.
“Why is it so difficult for you to admit this inconvenient fact [a Palestinian Israeli with Israeli citizenship]? It must torture you…”
See my Raed’s point 5 above, so i don’t find it inconvenient, but i will admit that a lot of things torture me, and i do not want to be a protected minority, sue me.
The spit was videotaped, maybe the cop spat first, allegedly Alek.
I have far more direct ways of contacting Prof Cohen than through Haaretz. He fought for the right to enter & exit Israel freely & won as he notes below with amusement at yr feeble efforts at smearing him:
Because all they have is an Israeli ID w. few of the benefits or rights of Jewish citizens of the state.
That is false and a lie. Palestinian citizens of Israel (or however you wish to call them) want to be FULL citizens of Israel w. all the rights & privileges accrued thereto. Any attempt by you or anyone else to infer anything diff. is a lie.
Interesting, under all right wing scenarios you will shortly become exactly what you claim you do not want to be. If you refuse to grant nationhood to Palestinians they & Israeli Palestinians will shortly outnumber Jews. If you annex the W. Bank & grant Pal. some sort of legal status they will outnumber you. Unless you prefer expelling them.
“Richard: Avner Cohen himself will hear about the lies & distortions you attempt to spread about him”
“Avner: half corect but way outdated…”
I didn’t want to smear the Professor or spread lies about him or claim he “beggs” to come back to Israel, you put words in my mouth.
This isn’t a rebuttle, this is an update, so Cohen already made amends with the ISE, not about to, I was wrong about the timing.
What about my point on ongoing negotiations about his new book?, please put up the entire exchange, not parts.
About MKs and generally Palestinian citizens of Israel that never use Palestinian-Israelis or Palestinian Israelis, American PC terms:
“Richard: That is false and a lie.”
Again you claim that i lie, again you are wrong, E-mail the MK’s through Knesset.gov.il or your channels, ask other leaders.
“Richard: …however you wish to call them”
I wish and do call them as they call themselves, no insinuations, i didn’t mention their reasons or future scenarios.
“Avner: that is how the Islamic Movement members in Israel refer to themselves”
It is correct to all the political spectrum of Palestinian citizens of Israel (btw, you know how Hamas and Fatah call them? the name has a number in it).
“Richard: Interesting, under all right wing scenarios…Unless you prefer expelling them”
Stop “infering”, you suck at it.
Once again a deliberate distortion. He didn’t do anything, concede anything, ask for anything, make amends, period. He won complete vindication & the right to travel to & fro.
I know of NO negotiations about his new book & knowing him I’m sure there have been none. If you have further evidence, that is real documented proof besides yr own vacant claims, bring it.
Speaking of sucking. If you want to represent a hasbarist position, you could at least support what you claim regarding what Israeli Palestinians call themselves & yr other unsupported claims with actual quotations & links. That’s what the rules are here. Follow them.
About Prof. Cohen, I missremembered comments 20 and 22 here (hebrew):
Tal Inbar is a reliable source, much moreso than my memory. Thanks for setting the record straight.
Making amends and winning vindication are much closer than making amends and begging, “half-correct” even.
Here is a Raed Salah interview from 2001 (hebrew again, sorry about that):
A Kesset.gov.il is not a link? again with the Israeli Palestinians PC?
“I know of NO negotiations about his new book.”
A new round of hostilties is right around the corner, don’t you think? and by hostilities i mean Malmab investigations.
Your link provides what appears to be 40 other links many of them to comments by Tal Inbar. I have no idea which one of them you’re referring to. IT would be decent of you not to put me to the trouble of reading through 40 Hebrew links to find the particular one you intend.
You have made numerous mistakes regarding Prof. Cohen’s books. A Hebrew lang. book that came out in 2005 was submitted to the censor as all Hebrew books on this subject (not just his) must be. I have no idea what will happen to his upcoming book which will be published here in the U.S. I strongly doubt he would submit a book being published in English here in the States to the Israeli censor. You might want to be more precise in future & get yr facts right before going off half cocked as you tend to do.
Does this synopsis of Cohens’ new book taken directly fr. the publisher’s site indicate the author has negotiated about anything w. the Israeli gov’t??
According to my Fresh link above, he publishes it abroad, which means he will get investigated again like with his former books, see here as well (hebrew, from “The Last Taboo”):
Ask Cohen about Tal Inbar, or Google him…
Sadly, the U.S. itself has recently been setting an awful example in this regard:
No kidding, Andy, that isn’t old news. I remember the episode mentioned in Wikipedia, and also when the US military began actively planting propaganda stories in Iraqi newspapers, stories it called “pro-American” but were in fact disinformation misleading the public about US military activities and objectives.
The arrest of Jared Malsin falls right into the same mindset which caused the humiliating dressing down of the Turkish ambassador over a television program, broadcast in Turkey, which was unflattering to Israel.
I meant to that it isn’t news. Sorry for the typo above.
RE: “SHIN BET SEEKS EXPULSION OF AMERICAN-JEWISH JOURNALIST WORKING FOR PALESTINIAN NEWS AGENCY”
SAMPLE LETTER/E-MAIL: [Dear Representative, Senator, President]
Please stand up for press freedom and for American citizens abroad. Please make a public statement calling for Israel to release journalist Jared Malsin, a US citizen, and allow him to continue his critical journalistic work in the Palestinian Territories.
Malsin is editor in chief of Ma’an English, an excellent news agency headquartered in Bethlehem and the largest independent news organization in the Palestinian Territories.
It is essential that Americans, who give Israel $7 million per day, be accurately informed on Israel-Palestine. If Ma’an’s ability to report the news is diminished through the incarceration and expulsion of its editors and the intimidation of its staff, our ability to learn the facts will be disastrously reduced.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has called for Malsin’s immediate release, stating: “Forcing a journalist who has violated no laws to leave Israel and the Occupied Territories is unacceptable…Israel should release Jared Malsin without delay and allow him to resume his work.”
• YOU CAN USE THE FCNL (QUAKERS) SITE TO E-MAIL YOUR SENATORS, CONGRESSMAN, AND THE PRESIDENT ALL AT ONCE –
• OR YOU CAN USE THE Congress.org (CQ-Roll Call) SITE – http://www.congress.org/congressorg/officials/congress/
“The Only Democracy in the Middle East™”
You know, this is funny and sad on so many levels…