The foreign media continue to open up the Anat Kam-Uri Blau case with new stories in The Guardian, The Times, and The National. They largely don’t plow new ground, but the Guardian story does carry this strongly supportive statement by Haaretz’s editor, Dov Alfon (a new Twitter follower of mine!):
Uri Blau is in London. He will be there until his editors decide otherwise. We are ready to continue to keep him in London as long as needed. Uri Blau published a lot of articles in Haaretz. All of them are dynamite stuff and it is clear of course that the authorities are not satisfied with these kind of revelations in a major newspaper.”We understand this but we also understand that Israel is still a democracy and therefore we intend to continue to publish whatever public interest demands and our reporters can reveal.”
Haaretz’s lawyers are negotiating with Israeli authorities for his return from self-imposed exile. The above statement is almost a message of defiance of those authorities telling them that Blau won’t return until his innocence is guaranteed.
I’ve learned from an Israeli source some strange, but not entirely surprising news. There is a reason why the floodgates of the foreign press are opening to this story but they remain closed in the Hebrew language press. The Shin Bet doesn’t really care what we write about this story. What they really worry about is their own citizens, what they’ll learn about it, and what they’ll say about it when they do. That is why no Israeli newspaper or media outlet has had the balls to break the gag.
I’ve written before here that in the past such foreign media articles would virtually guarantee domestic coverage within Israel. Not with this story. Which means we have an intelligence and military apparatus which keeps its citizens in the dark about an urgent matter of national security, Israeli democracy, and the rule of law. They don’t trust the population to know about the facts and then make up their own minds. They fear the public. They fear the force of vox populi. As Aipac’s Steve Rosen once so memorably said about lobbying groups, they thrive in the dark and die in the light.
Those of us who thought we believed in Israeli democracy, or at least wanted to believe in the concept, should be ashamed.
The National account offers this powerful quotation articulating clearly what’s at stake for Israel:
Orly Halpern, a freelance journalist and Middle East analyst based in Jerusalem, agreed. “I am very worried that Israel would arrest a journalist – or anyone for that matter – and prevent people from knowing about it. These are the actions of an oppressive regime, not a democracy,”Mr Halpern said.
“Israel should have some kind of a protection for whistle-blowers,” another Israeli journalist said. “Even if they go against the state or the system, what [Ms Kam allegedly exposed] was the army breaking the law.”
The journalist, who asked to remain anonymous, said the blackout was one of the most worrisome aspects of the case.
For the reasons I wrote above, Anat Kam has intensely resisted publication of any details of her case even in blogs. Her side apparently cares much less what we write about her in English language blogs. Or she may care, but realizes it won’t harm her fate as Hebrew language reporting might. She’s apparently relying on statements from the prosecution that her silence might allow them to remove counts from her charge sheet or even eliminate jail time altogether. Frankly, (and I concede I’m neither Israeli nor the victim in this case) I don’t see why any defendant should trust an unwritten statement proffered by Israeli prosecutors. At any rate, she should know in the next few days what prosecutors will offer her. If she doesn’t receive the deal she’s looking for and decides to fight, she will have my full support.
The same source also tells me that the State has not asked for her cooperation in the case of Uri Blau. If this is true, it is welcome news. I suspected that the reason she felt she might be able to avoid jail time was because of a deal whereby she would testify against him.
I have also received lots of supportive message from fellow bloggers and journalists who understand and appreciate what I’ve tried to do. I just had a heart-felt message from Mya Guarnieri, who wrote The National story linked above. George Hale of Maan has also been intrepid. An Israeli journalist in the belly of the beast who shall go nameless also served an important role in getting word out. The people who matter know what this blog has done. As for the others, well…I’ll let you fill in that ellipsis.
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