URGENT: Journalists’ petition against the prosecution of Uri Blau

Uri Blau is the Ha’aretz report who received information from IDF reservidt Anat Kamm. You can read about that case here and you can find more in-depth background here  and here.

Blau may or may not be prosecuted, but, particularly in light of the massive WikiLeaks and Palestine Papers revelations, this sort of reporting has to be protected. It’s not just an Israeli issue–if Blau faces prosecution, this could have implications for journalism around the world.

Dimi Reider at 972 magazine offers analysis and background, but more importantly, includes a petition for journalists, bloggers and other writers to sign. If this fits you, please do add your name; instructions for doing so are also included in Dimi’s piece. Even if it does not, please spread word of this petition around. In the realm of ideas, free speech and the spirit of investigative journalism, there isn’t a more important issue today.

Smothering the “Dynamic Debate” in Israel

Dimi Reider, over at +972Mag, alerts us to some disturbing developments in Israel regarding freedom of the press.

In summary, this is a continuation of the Anat Kamm case. Kamm was convicted in February for passing classified documents on to Ha’aretz reporter, Uri Blau. As Reider explains, it seems that the target of the state’s efforts was not Kamm, primarily, but the reporter, Blau, she passed the material to, and Ha’aretz, the Israeli newspaper which, more than any other media source in Israel, is the reason Israel has a reputation for open media and a vibrant discussion of issues often considered difficult or even taboo in the United States.

Anat Kamm

I urge my readers to look not only at Reider’s excellent piece at 972, but also Richard Silverstein’s piece from last month regarding Kamm’s plea bargain as well as his original reporting on the Kamm affair. The work they’ve done is outstanding, and I’m not going to cover ground here that they’ve already done so well.

I’ll focus on two main points here. The first is the use to which the Kamm-Blau Affair is being put.

As Reider points out, virtually any reporter, Israeli or otherwise, has probably come into possession of classified documents at some point. We certainly know this to be the case in the United States, and the important uses this can be put to. We can also see not only what might have happened to Daniel Ellsberg and his exposing of the Pentagon Papers, but also the implications today for such groundbreaking incidents as Wikileaks and the Palestine Papers.

Israel is trying to cast a major chill on such investigative reporting.  They are trying to put Uri Blau in jail for years for doing his job. The implications for investigative journalism, as well as independent blogging are enormous. Moreover, while the state declined to file any charges against Ha’aretz, it’s very clear that the desire is to send the paper a message about exposing Israeli crimes. The loss to Israel and the world if Ha’aretz is intimidated would be incalculable. Continue reading

Israeli Democracy: Under Attack on Both Sides of the Green Line

It’s time to ask the question: what is happening to Israel?

While the so-called “mainstream” Jewish-American groups work overtime to deny the frightening direction Israel is taking and screaming to the heavens about the “de-legitimizers,” the Jewish state is losing its democratic identity in large steps.

Almost every day, we find more and new examples of this disease that is rotting Israeli democracy. The Anat Kam case, Im Tirzu’s fanaticism, and the aggressive attempts to squash protests in Sheikh Jarrah are examples inside of Israeli jurisdiction. The siege on Gaza, the IDF measures to prevent Israelis and internationals from participating in protests in West Bank towns against the Separation Barrier, and now new directives which will permit mass expulsions from the

Anat Kam, Israeli, IDF vet, Zionist, and patriot. But being a journalist got her into big trouble.

West Bank are examples in the Occupied Territories.

On April 9, in Sheikh Jarrah, the writer David Grossman put it better than I ever could:

“I think that we are all beginning to grasp — even those who maybe don’t really want to — how 43 years ago, by turning a blind eye, by actively or passively cooperating, we actually cultivated a kind of carnivorous plant that is slowly devouring us, consuming every good part within us, making the country we live in a place that is not good to live in. Not good not only if you are an Arab citizen of Israel, and certainly if you are a Palestinian resident of the Territories — not good also for every Jewish Israeli person who wants to live here, who cherishes some hope to be in a place where humans are respected as humans, where your rights are treated as a given, where humanity, morality, and civil rights are not dirty words, not something from the bleeding-heart Left. No. These are the bread and water, the butter and milk of our lives, the stuff from which we will make our lives, and really make them lives worth living here.” Continue reading