Endangered Media Freedom in Israel
by Stephen Lendman
The Palestinian Center for Development & Media Freedoms (MADA) said Israeli violations against media freedoms reached "a new peak compared to what has been monitored (in) past years."
It documented 407 Israeli media freedom violations last year, the largest number since it began monitoring them a decade ago - journalists and media outlets targeted on the phony pretexts of engaging in "incitement" or ties to terrorist groups.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks Israel 101st among world nations on media freedom, saying "journalists face a 'military censorship' and must deal with censorship orders."
"Abuses of the Israeli army against Palestinian and foreign journalists are common, especially while covering demonstrations."
Media freedom ends where alleged national security begins. Since last October, Israel arrested 19 Palestinian journalists without just cause, 10 still imprisoned, six held administratively uncharged, others on phony accusations of involvement in "incitement" or ties to terrorist organizations.
According to PA information ministry head Mohammed Khalifa, Israel unjustifiably claims "everything that's happening is due to incitement, not to the occupation and its injustices."
"Therefore an attempt has been made to turn all Palestinian journalists into inciters and harm those who bring the Palestinian story to local or world attention…This is another way for the occupation to intimidate the Palestinians."
On April 23, Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate board member Omar Nazzal was arrested at the Israeli/Jordanian border while en route abroad to attend a European Federation of Journalists conference.
He's unjustly administratively detained uncharged for nonexistent "involvement in a terrorist organization," according to Shin Bet.
He committed no crimes. Israel wants him silenced. His attorney, Mahmoud Hassan, believes he was targeted for recent articles claiming Israel assassinated Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) member Omar Nafef Zayed in Bulgaria last February.
On April 6, journalist Saheh Dweik was arrested and charged with social media incitement - alleging she called for violence. She called accusations fabricated.
Journalist Muhammad al-Qiq hunger struck over three months against his unlawful administrative detention uncharged. He'll be released on May 21 provided Israel doesn't renege on its agreement.
Medical science can't explain how he managed to survive so long, ingesting only water. His ordeal took a terrible toll on his body, perhaps permanent damage.
Free expression is grounds for arrest in Israel. Exposing regime wrongdoing risks assassination. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) demand Nazzal's immediate release.
IFJ president Jim Boumelha called it " shocking to hear that a participant to a congress for journalists from all over Europe has been arrested by the Israeli authorities on his way to attend and banged in Etzion prison without any reason being given."
Delegates representing European-wide journalists demand the release of their colleague. Israel invents phony charges or allegations, justifying the unjustifiable.
They're targeted for doing their jobs responsibly, unjustly accused of terrorism, ties to so-called terrorist groups, or involvement in incitement.
May 3 is World Press Freedom Day, enshrined under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stating:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontier."
In December 1993, the UN General Assembly declared May 3 World Press Freedom Day.
It "celebrate(s) the fundamental principles of press freedom; assess(es) the state of press freedom throughout the world; defend(s) the media from attacks on their independence; (and) pay(s) tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty."
Press freedom is under attack in Israel, America, and other Western societies. Unchecked government ruthlessness endangers truth-telling.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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