Reporters Without Borders has published its annual ranking (full report here) of world nations by their level of press freedom. Israel, that bastion of western democracy and values in the midst of the “hellhole” that is the Middle East (or in Ehud Barak’s vivid image, the “villa in the jungle”) doesn’t fare too well. It ranks 92ndh out of the 179 countries evaluated (coded in the category “Noticeable Problems”), behind such exemplars of freedom as Congo, Madagascar and Moldova:
Israel fell six places (from 86th to 92nd ) for two reasons. Firstly, Haaretz reporter Uri Blau is facing a possible seven-year jail sentence for possessing classified documents and his source, Anat Kam, was sentenced to three years in prison on 31 October. Secondly, on 21 November, parliament approved a media bill on first reading that would drastically increase the amount of damages that can be awarded in defamation cases.
In general, although Israel enjoys real media pluralism, it is not in the top 50 countries in the Reporters Without Borders index because the media are subject to prior military censorship. The Palestinian Territories fell three places because of attacks on journalists during demonstrations by Palestinians calling for an end to the war between Fatah and Hamas, and because of an illegal takeover by Hamas supporters of the journalists’ union in Gaza City…
The U.S. ranked 47th, having fallen 27 places since last year because of police harassment of Occupy Wall Street journalists.
No doubt if those who compiled the report had known Bibi would finally allow Channel 10 to survive, Israel would’ve climbed at least a half rung or so. Conversely, the symbiotic relationship between Sheldon Adelson’s Yisrael HaYom and Bibi certainly can’t have helped Israel in the ratings.
But hey, look at the bright side. Israel came out almost on top among the MENA nations. The only one with more press freedom is Kuwait. Imagine, a country whose press is controlled by the royal family has more freedom than Israel. Something to be proud of, eh?
7th Eye covers the story well in Hebrew.