Sorry, I know my title contains strong language, but what Israel’s attorney general, Yehudah Weinstein, has done is to rape freedom of the press in Israel. The first violation of the body of journalism occurred when he pursued espionage charges (charge sheet in Hebrew) against Uri Blau for accepting top-secret IDF documents offered to him by Anat Kamm. The second violation occurred when he offered a plea bargain to Blau, which the latter appears to have accepted, forcing Blau to admit to a criminal offence of possessing secret documents. Blau would receive a four-month jail sentence commuted to community service. Imagine, as Uri Horesh has suggested, two individuals who performed patriotic national service–yet one is in jail, and the other must perform community service to expiate his “sins” against the State. The irony is painful to apprehend.
There are far more painful aspects of this plea deal. Weinstein, in his statement, explains the “light” sentence he accepted by saying that it was necessary to protect freedom of the press. That’s like saying after you’ve raped someone twice that you didn’t do it a third time in order to spare her sense of self-respect. Further, Weinstein argued that Blau’s possession of the secret documents in no way constituted legitimate practice of journalism.
The level of willful delusion in this is astonishing. Blau did what journalists in democracies around the world do every day. They receive and report on government secrets. If journalists did not do this they would be maidservants to official power. That, of course, is what the State wishes them to be, but not what the charter of journalism calls for them to be.
The 7th Eye also notes (Hebrew) that the Shin Bet lied to Blau when they told him they were not interested in pursuing his source, but rather only interested in retrieving the documents.
Let us state things clearly: Israel is not a democracy. Any attorney general who can criminalize the practice of journalism is not enforcing the laws of a democratic state. He’s enforcing a code of silence of an authoritarian state. Yes, OK Israel isn’t as authoritarian as, say Saudi Arabia. It does have vestiges of democracy. But those vestiges are rapidly falling by the wayside, thanks in part to a resurgent ultra-nationalist movement represented by the governing Likud and its farther-right coalition enablers (now including its more centrist Kadima enablers).
It is an absolute shandeh for the “democratic Jewish state” to imprison a journalist, especially one who was ferreting out major wrongdoing by IDF generals in violation of Supreme Court guidelines. Yes, it’s true the spineless Court refused, after the fact, to even hold said general to account for his murderous acts. But that doesn’t obviate the fact that the nation’s highest court told the IDF not to assassinate unarmed Palestinians and it did exactly that. Any judicial body worth its salt in any real democracy would jump all over such an individual and take the first opportunity to bring him to heel. Instead, in Israel, the perpetrator, Yair Naveh, was promoted to deputy chief of staff.
This is the same individual who not only killed unarmed Palestinians, but whose internal security procedures were so lax they allowed Anat Kamm to copy 2,000 documents and do so completely undetected. Not a single mainstream journalist in Israel has remarked upon this flagrant lapse of security and whether a general guilty of it should be promoted to the rank he has.
This is a perfect example of the hermetically sealed Israeli society in which the legal system and politicians wash the hand of the IDF, all for the sake of the greater good of the State. Not the greater good of the people. But rather for the institutions and power of the State.
There are those perhaps even reading this for whom honoring state power is more important than press freedom or individual liberty. They will point to Uri Blau’s alleged sins as so egregious that his punishment is justified. To which I reply, I’ll accept his punishment when Israel places every military correspondent in the dock for the same crimes, since every single one at one time or another has received and published information from such secret documents. Further, let’s prosecute every general who’s leaked them and every defense minister too who’s given or leaked such information to journalists. When Israel does that, then I’ll be happy for Uri Blau to join them. Till then, this reeks of rankest hypocrisy.
On a different, but related subject: yesterday, the BBC World Service aired a segment (if you can find a link to it please let me know) about the African resident of Israel who was locked in a room at Dana Children’s Hospital in Tel Aviv along with his sick nine-month old child for over two hours. When medical staff did come to treat the child, they were dressed in hazmat suits as if he had Ebola fever. After waiting for several more hours and receiving no lab results and approaching the nursing staff for them, he was told only doctors could talk to him. This despite the fact that the test results were negative.
During the program, the hospital chief of staff defended treating Africans as if they were infected with plague by claiming that an African child had contracted measles and forced the hospital to notify ten other patients that they might be exposed. The doctor erroneously claimed there were 100,000 Africans in Tel Aviv (there are around 60,000) and that his hospital is bearing the brunt of the irresponsibility of the political echelons in dealing with this flood of sick immigrants.
We should explain that such racist sentiments aren’t restricted to Israel. Anti-immigrant sentiment is probably as old as the human race has been migrating. The U.S. certainly has had its share for as long as there has been a republic. But the difference is that Jews themselves have known the sting of racism and anti-immigrant hate. Now that they have their own State, I suppose this signifies a perverse sort of “progress” in that now Jews can hold equally rancid views as those of their defamers. Back in the old days of early Zionism its adherents were even pleased with the prospect of the new state having Jewish criminals. That was supposed to mark “progress” of sorts. Now Zionism has produced its own very special breed of racists as well. Kol ha-kavod–yet one more achievement of the Zionist miracle.
Netanyahu allegedly called Steve Linde, Editor of the Jerusalem Post, and surprised Linde by naming “Haaretz” and “The New York Times” as his main enemies. The audio recording of Steve Linde’s narration and account of that conversation is available here on a blog by Noam Sheizaf (an independent jouranlist who has worked for YNET Online, Maariv Daily (Deputy Editor of Weekend Magazine), and published in Haaretz, Yedioth Ahronoth, The Nation, etc.)
We believe there is a connection here between Netanyahu’s disdain for Haaretz and the prosecution of Uri Blau. Well, that and he released evidence of corruption incriminating Ehud Barak. This contempt by the Barak/Netanyahu two headed dragon involves a censorship of the press for private benefit to the detriment of Israel’s national interests. As these individuals do not confine their domestic policies to their borders (they do not exist), we find Netanyahu seeking to suppress the New York Times, an American paper — and he’s a foreigner.
Dena Bugel-Shunra says
This is (by far) not the first time this sort of thing happens in Israel.
What makes it unusual is that it’s happening to a Jew. But it’s not even the first time it happens to a Jew – Maxim Ghilan and Shmuel Mor were imprisoned for a mistranslation that was too close to reality, back in ’64 or ’65 or so.
But Arabic newspapers are regularly targeted (or were, when I was looking into this), closed down, censored, etc.
Israel is not a democracy and never has been. It’s pretended to be a democracy for Jews, but that aspect is also shutting down – and that, that’s the news here.
Rachamim Ben Ami says
Anybody condoning the pilfering of classified military documents has a skewed perspective to begin with. To then applaud the passing of these documents to a representative of the media is seriously warped and in need of a reality check. Ms.Kamm did not commit her crime out of any sense of justice, or any attempt to rein in what you incorrectly claim were actions undertaken in violation of High Court guidelines (by the way, Israel has no “Supreme Court,” you, like so many in America, view Israel through cultural blinderd). If Ms.Kamm were at all concerned with true justice she would have alerted somebody within the Judicial Branch, preferably JAGO so as to avoid.committing any crime herself. It is not up to us as individuals to allow our own partisan views colour either the IDF or its actions. Like any military, the IDF is beset by problems. However, the extant system of checks and balances has proven itself capable. Going directly to an overt Left Wing mouthpiece was simply a political act. Ms.Kamm posseses no specialised training that wouls allow her to even asses the contents of those pilfered documents, let alone decide to commit what comes uncomfortably close to treason.
Richard Silverstein says
The jailing of whistleblowers and journalists is what is “seriously warped” & indicates Israel is no longer a democracy. As for whether Israel has a “Supreme Court” or not, the translation of “High” and “Supreme” (from the Hebrew word elyon) Court are interchangable. These are synonyms & indicate you are linguistically blindered. But I will agree with your implication that the Supreme Court is weak & ineffectual when it comes to national security issues.
You’re blathering here & Israeli apologists have already done the same blathering as you: Kamm should’ve gone to JAG or to her superior (the very general who was violating the Supreme Court’s directive). Blah, blah, blah. JAG exists to cover the ass of generals like Naveh, not to ensure complying with Supreme Court directives. It certainly IS up to you as individuals to think for yourselves about the immoral acts of the IDF. That’s precisely what Kamm did when she said she leaked the docs to prove war crimes. It most certainly is valid, even obligatory for citizens to make their own choices and not allow generals to think on their behalf. The latter is what tyrannies do. Is that what you want Israel to be?
“Checks & balances?” What such things are there to keep the IDF in check? Nothing.
Haaretz is “an over left-wing mouthpiece?” You’re an overt hasbara propagandist.
Accusing Kamm of treason turns you into a Class A right-winger pimping the truth. You’re on very thin ice here.
RE: “OK Israel isn’t as authoritarian as, say Saudi Arabia. It does have vestiges of democracy. But those vestiges are rapidly falling by the wayside, thanks in part to a resurgent ultra-nationalist movement represented by the governing Likud and its farther-right coalition enablers. . .” ~ R.S.
ONLY HALF-JOKINGLY (APPROXIMATION ONLY): Likudnik Israel and Revisionist Zionism (largely due to their effect on the U.S.*) are an “existential threat” to the values of The Enlightenment ! ! !
* THE EFFECT OF LIKUDNIK ISRAEL AND REVISONIST ZIONISM ON THE U.S.:
“America Adopts the Israel Paradigm”, by Philip Ghiraldi, Antiwar.com, 7/05/12
ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://original.antiwar.com/giraldi/2012/07/04/america-adopts-the-israel-para
P.S. ALSO SEE: ‘Israelis are helping write US laws, fund US campaigns, craft US war policy’, by Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, 6/30/12
LINK – http://mondoweiss.net/2012/06/israelis-are-helping-write-us-laws-fund-us-campaigns-craft-us-war-policy.html