Israel’s Media Equivalent of J. Edgar Hoover on Way Out
Danny Seaman, who for ten years has been acting director of the Israeli Government Press Office, is being forced out of his job. It is his responsibility to issue and oversee foreign reporters’ credentials and he wields his power like a cugdel. His capriciousness is legend. He himself concedes that he has denied credentials to over 60 individuals during his tenure. You can be sure that they fell into disfavor either because of Seaman’s disagreement with views expressed by the reporter or even for personal reasons having nothing to do with journalism. He’s notorious for harassing Palestinian journalists working for foreign news organizations.
Seaman is ‘famed’ for the missive he sent to foreign journalists seeking to cover the Gaza flotilla story from within Gaza, recommending that they eat at Roots, a so-called Gaza resort, known as a hangout for those foreigners who can afford its high prices. The purpose of the exercise was to point out to these journalists that there supposedly was no hunger and no humanitarian crisis worth reporting there.
Tellingly, and the reason I call him Israel’s answer to J. Edgar Hoover, is that despite the fact that he is leaving his post, only one journalist is willing to talk publicly about him at all. The rest are too cowed by his power (Hebrew) to cross swords with him. There is a civil service procedure being implemented to fill the job permanently. Seaman is applying for the job but most believe he will not get it since he has alienated so many journalists. But that still prevents them from braving his wrath.
Of course, one would hope that someone with more professional standards would take up the new position. But there’s no guarantee of that happening because the Israeli government essentially views the foreign media with deep suspicion, if not outright disdain. So why would it appoint a fair individual to fill the post? It may be possible that with the Cast Lead massacre and Mavi Marmara fiasco that Israel is becoming a tad smarter and recognizes the need not to deliberately alienate the foreign press as was Seaman’s wont. One can always hope.
So much for freedom of the press in the Only Democracy in the Middle East™.
9 thoughts on “Israel’s Media Equivalent of J. Edgar Hoover on Way Out – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Funny, I’d never thought of Seamen as Hoover. I’d pretty much pegged Yechiel Horev (tfui!), Director of Security of the Defense Establishment from ’86-2007, in that role.
Read this and you’ll have a three-fer: a delightful evisceration of Horev, Ben Caspit & Ben Dror Yemini (the Maariv twin character assassins).
If J. Edgar is already taken, to what shall we compare thee, Seaman? Joe McCarthy is too dramatic. We need an insufferable, self-important apparachik who delights in torturing others. Any thoughts anyone?
I can always trust Hanna (HBH) to provide fine, razor-sharp writing.
Insufferable, self-important, no real authority… O’Reilly?
Hmmmm…an interesting question. We would need to choose, like you say, “An insufferable, self-important apparchik, who delights in torturing others.”
Some one that would impose rules, that would lend one to believe that they support the freedom of speech and expression, yet controlled it with a strong arm. Someone that would moderate and investigate prior writings before granting credentials. Someone that would no tolerate insults, baiting, vulgarity and harassment, yet would have no problem doing those things themselves to others. Someone that would deem the sources that supported their position as credible, yet any source with an opposing point of view would be labled as propagandist, and censored. This person would also lay down rules about certain extremist words, phrases and slogans form both end of the spectrum, but would really only monitor the side that they support.
Strange thing, there seem to be so many of these types around but when it comes down to naming them….you just can’t seem to remember them.
You want to nominate me to be head of the Israeli General Press Office? Go right ahead. The Civil Service is holding an open nomination process. I’m not a citizen though. But you know what, I’d administer the office fairly, which is a whole helluva lot more than Seaman ever did.
That’s a really nasty comment. Really nasty. And did I say mean-spirited?
And it’s an outright lie to say that I deem any source opposed to my view as propagandist. The sources I don’t deem credible are clearly labelled in my comment rules. Anything else is credible unless proven otherwise. It’s also a lie to claim I don’t monitor far left comments. You just don’t see the comments I don’t publish.
Richard, with all due respect, I had posted an article here which did not come from your list, and per my understanding did not violate your terms, yet you removed it due to “propoganda rules”. This was an website that showed historical evidence that the grand mufti of Jerusalem was connected with the Nazi’s. Your rules state “Quotations from, or flattering references to racist figures such as Meir Kahane or Hajj Amin Husseini may be edited or deleted.” Since I was neither quoting or making flattering references, I don’t see why I was cencored.
Secondly, you name Debka, CAMERA, Campus Watch etc as banned from your site, yet you allow equally propogandists left and pro-arab sites such as Counterpunch. I guess that is your prerogitive to do that, it would be nice if you would list some left wing propoganda sites in your rules as well….because you know they exist.
Lastly, by no means am I nominating you for the position of Press Secretary. I am just trying to think of someone who you can compare to Seaman. Lets try to stay on topic…another one of your rules.
Since we are on the topic of rules….I have noticed that my prior post (6:51am on July 27) took almost 24 hours to be moderated and only went up on July 28, they post I just wrote above is now under moderation. I have posted on your site many times prior to this.
Your rules state…”First-time comments are moderated. Once I approve your first comment no subsequent comments of yours will be moderated unless you violate the rules. I require commenters to respect the following no matter what their political views”
Now, outside of posting a website that was not on your “published” list, I do not know what I have done to deserve such scrutiny.
This subject has been discussed exhaustively before at this site because many right wing commenters like you have attempted to make this argument. I’ve allowed them to do so & refuted their argument. So we’re done with it. That’s why I moderate the comment threads here. You may not realize it but there are thousands of readers some of whom have been for years. Neither I nor they want to go over ground that’s been trod before, sometimes many times before. I don’t just run this blog for yr edification. I read every comment & reply to many of them. So it would be an exercise in utter frustration to go over the same arguements time after time. It would be like the movie Groundhog Day, but with no hope of getting out the vicious circle.
I didn’t say either right wing or left wing sites were not allowed. I specified which specific propaganda sites fr. the left or right I don’t permit because I find their work to be shallow, distorted or filled with lies. Counterpunch does not fit into that category. But I don’t believe anyone has ever quoted from Counterpunch here anyway & I don’t generally use it as a source. I do list anti ZIonist sites in my prohibited list. You’re just not familiar w. them & so don’t recognize them as such.
As nasty as that might be, Greg somehow managed to describe with absurd accuracy what many of us feel.