Press Freedom Group Raises Concerns about ‘Rising Pressure’ on Journalists in Israel

(Mohammed Asad, MEMO)

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has expressed its concern about “rising pressure on journalists in Israel.” In a statement dated February 8, the CPJ said it is “concerned by reports indicating rising pressure from the Israeli government on the foreign press.”

The group cited a recent threat by the Israeli Government Press Office “to revoke the credentials of reporters for inaccurate headlines”, as well as a scheduled Knesset sub-committee debate Tuesday on foreign media coverage.

CPJ also pointed to a Knesset discussion last week, where parliamentarians and a representative of the Israeli military “accused journalists of orchestrating events in order to negatively portray Israel.”

According to CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney, the threat “to revoke press credentials of reporters who publish stories or headlines the government may not like” constitutes “a heavy handed approach at stifling unwelcome coverage.”

Meanwhile, the Foreign Press Association (FPA) has said it will make a submission to today’s Knesset sub-committee session on foreign media coverage, highlighting how much influence the Israeli government already exercises over journalists.

The submission, on behalf of the Board of the Foreign Press Association, notes that to receive Israeli government accreditation, “members of the press must have a valid visa to work in the country and must sign a form agreeing to submit to Israeli government censorship when required.”

This means that the government “can revoke credentials if it has a problem with coverage, can limit the movement of foreign media into Gaza and around the occupied West Bank, thereby restricting coverage, and can place information under gag order to prevent it being published.”

The FPA also cites an example from last year, when the Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a YouTube video “suggesting the foreign media were biased, ignorant and witless”, a video which was withdrawn “after the blatant inaccuracy and imbalance of the video were pointed out.”

According to FPA, their “biggest concern is that the IDF often does not respond to requests to meet and has only taken action in cases of military aggression/harassment of journalists when there is video or photographic evidence, and not always then.”

(MEMO)

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