I should put “democracy” in quotes in my title as the term is stretched beyond recognition as practiced in Israel. The latest outrage is the announcement today that the State planned to prosecute Haaretz investigative journalist, Uri Blau for “aggravated espionage,” carrying a sentence of seven years. Blau’s crime? Practicing journalism. You’ll recall that fellow journalist Anat Kamm gave Blau secret IDF documents pertaining to targeted killings and Operation Cast Lead. The information portrayed the army in an extremely bad light and supported claims that it murdered unarmed Palestinians when it could have apprehended them non-violently. This violated Supreme Court rulings and international law.
Kamm has already been sentenced to four and a half years in prison (I first broke the gag and reported her arrest here). Now Blau faces more. He performed admirably as a journalist serving his society and is one of the finest investigative reporters working in Israel today. But his work cuts a little too close to the bone for Israeli bureaucrats and generals who are the target of his reports. Democracies understand the importance of journalism, which is why they offer it protections. Not so Israel where the national security state trumps any individual or societal right.
Israeli journalists have created a protest website and there is a petition for journalists to sign. I have created a Facebook group, Free Uri Blau. I hope you’ll join and be updated (and offer your own updates) on news related to this important case. 200 Israeli journalists have written to the Shin Bet complaining about this egregious violation of press freedom. I hope they’ll be heard, if not by the secret police, then at least by the public.
7th Eye reports (Hebrew) on a statement by Ronen Bergman, Israel’s well-known intelligence correspondent.
- Haaretz journalist Uri Blau to be indicted for possession of classified IDF documents (haaretz.com)
- Committee to Protect Journalists: Israel Ranks 2nd Per Capita in Imprisoned Journalists (richardsilverstein.com)
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.