This blog was the first English-language source which reported that Israeli journalist Anat Kam was secretly arrested by the Israeli police for allegedly leaking top secret IDF memos describing the army’s flagrant disregard for an Israeli Supreme Court ruling. The latter provided limitations on the IDF’s use of targeted assassinations against Palestinian militants and the memos documented the army’s violation of the judicial decision. I reported that not only was Kam’s arrest secret, but the reason for her arrest too was embargoed by the Shin Bet.
After I read every Hebrew source about this affair and wrote my own post, a number of these sources disappeared. It turns out that Anat Kam herself and others on the Israeli left have urged those who have published to remove their material. Indymedia Israel did this (see cached version). Kam asked the Hebrew Wikipedia to remove the article about her and it did. As a member wrote quite sensibly (in Hebrew) in response:
If Shimon Peres told you to remove his Wikipedia article, would you?
For a few days I also did so after an Israeli peace activist told me that Kam was negotiating with the Shin Bet and hoped if little was made of this affair that she might get off with no jail time. I took my post down. Then I wrote to Avigdor Feldman asking him to confirm that he wished me to do so. I never received a reply. I republished my post.
Aside from the Shin Bet’s egregious behavior, several developments in this case have troubled me. First, I discovered that Anat Kam had published a tart dismissal of the Israeli conscientious objector movement. I wondered how someone who allegedly leaked top secret documents discrediting the Israeli army’s policy on a item of major national security significance could also disparage the very peace movement which these memos would assist.
I also noticed that at a Hebrew language website which had archived all online sources dealing with this case, someone sounding very much like Kam, but using the pseudonym “Noa,” railed against the website owner for maintaining the archive. I should add that I have other confirming evidence that the commenter was Kam. Among other disparaging statements she made about him:
You know Anat Kam? You tried to make contact with her? Or did you take on yourself the decision to be the Prince of Human Rights and Democracy and to claim you know what would be best for her?
…And further, I haven’t even begun to count to the number of times you were an accomplice to violations of the gag order (linking to articles which commit such a violation makes you into a criminal accomplice. It’s a good idea to examine the law from time to time.)”
On reading this, Aryeh Amihay, owner of the website took the entire archive post down. He too was intimidated by the veiled threat in the comment. So someone will have to explain to me how this sort of behavior serves anyone’s interests, even Kam’s. I fully understand that she is only 23 years old, faces very serious charges, and is under enormous pressure from the security establishment. I understand how this can turn one from being a principled person attempting to do good into someone seeking to save their own hide. In fact, I had experience with another whistleblower who, after being caught, acted in almost precisely the same way. This appears to be part of human nature, the instinct for self-preservation. So I am trying not to be judgmental on that score. But this seems to go far beyond what is required under the circumstances.
So I’d recommend that those on the Israeli left who’ve cooperated with the wall of silence reconsider their decisions. I continue to believe that silence doesn’t serve the greater good of Israeli democracy. I don’t even believe it serves Anat Kam’s interests, but as she herself says, that’s for her to determine.
I don’t know what motivated Anat Kam allegedly to leak the IDF memos. I would hope her actions were based on a citizen’s disgust with the army’s brazen disregard for the rule of law. But it occurs to me, and I freely concede and even hope I am wrong, that the leak may’ve been motivated by an aspiring journalist who found herself in a position to advance her career by making such material public through Israel’s leading daily newspaper, Haaretz, and a respected investigative journalist, Uri Blau. I also note that following her army service she went to work for Walla, an internet portal owned by Haaretz. Coincidence?
There are aspects of this case which still have not come to light. Anat Kam is not the alpha and the omega of this story. More than this, I can’t say at this time. I look forward to being able to say more at a later date.