America and Israel both
wage wars on free and open expression. Whistleblowing journalists are
targeted. Threats give others pause. Bradley Manning and Julian Assange
understand Washington's wrath.
So dooes Israeli journalist Anat Kam and Haaretz's national security
reporter Uri Blau.
Originally charged with espionage, Kam last year was convicted of collecting,
holding, and passing on classified information without authorization
while performing mandatory military service.
She’ll spend 54 months in prison. Another year and a half sentence was
suspended. Earlier she was under house arrest for two years. She gave
Blau thousands of documents. They showed high-ranking IDF officers lawlessly
approved targeted assassinations of wanted Palestinians.
Doing so violated a Supreme Court order. On December 14, 2006, Court
President Justice Aharon Barak ruled no one should be assassinated or
harmed in lieu of nonviolent workable alternatives. "In other words,"
he said, "a person should not be assassinated if it is possible to arrest
him, interrogate and indict him."
No one should be assassinated for any reason. International and Israeli
law prohibit it.
At the time, Israeli General Yair Naveh was quoted saying, "Don't bother
me with High Court orders." In other words, rule of law inviolability
and Supreme Court rulings don't matter. Washington operates the same
Kam's documents provided information for Blau's December 4, 2008 Haaretz
article headlined "License to Kill."
It provided evidence that then IDF Central Command head, General Yair
Naveh, and IDF Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, marked Ziad Subahi Mahmad
Malaisha and Ibrahim Ahmed Abd al-Latif Abed for death.
In addition, "the most senior IDF echelons approve(d), in advance and
in writing, the harming of innocent Palestinians during the course of
the assassination operations."
Exposing crimes or intent to commit them should be commended. Israel
calls doing so espionage or unlawfully passing on classified material
Bradley Manning faces 22 counts under America's Espionage Act, as well
as Articles 92 and 124 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. They
include aiding the enemy. It's a capital offense.
Prosecutors said they won't seek the death penalty. Manning could face
life in prison. He and Julian Assange received Nobel Peace Prize nominations.
Kam and Blau also are heroic. Israel targeted both for doing the right
thing. Kam's now in prison. On May 30, Israel's Attorney General Yehuda
Weinstein said Blau would be indicted for possession of classified IDF
Haaretz reported the news, saying:
A State Prosecutor's Office press release accused him of having "thousands
of military and top-secret documents...."
Although accusations include the term "severe espionage," Blau's charges
exclude it. The press release said in part:
"(T)he attorney general believes - based on the positions....of the
State Prosecutor's office, the Shin Bet security service and Israel
Police - that this case is an extreme one in terms of the severity of
He knowingly held thousands of documents and "betrayed his duty - and
later his commitment before the state - to cease possession of them."
Weinstein claimed no connection with having the documents and practicing
Haaretz said charging Blau "is unfortunate and sets a precedent in terms
of its ramifications on the freedom of the press in Israel, and especially
on the ability to cover the security apparatus."
According to Meretz party chairperson, MK Zehava Gal-On:
"The attorney general has once again proved his lack of sensitivity
to basic democratic principles, and with one decision, he has turned
Israel into a state in which journalists stand trial for receiving classified
information regarding failures in the security system."
Kam and Blau, of course, focused on far graver matters than security
system "failures." At issue is high-level criminality. Exposing it is
heroic. Prosecutors targeting whistleblowers and journalists for doing
their jobs is scandalous.
In America and Israel it's common practice. Perhaps revealing and/or
discussing vital truths in both countries one day will be prohibited.
Doing so violates fundamental democratic principles. It reflects police
It puts all independent journalists and others with information everyone
needs to know at risk. That's the path both countries have chosen.
Israel Press Council president, Dalia Dorner, expressed concern, saying:
"Many journalists that deal with these issues hold these kinds of documents,
and this kind of a decision has a chilling effect. We hope that the
authorities would consider the heavy damage that this decision has on
freedom of the press. And I regret this decision."
The Association of Israel Journalists said Weinstein's decision "endangers
freedom of the press, which is the soul of democracy."
"In the framework of journalistic work and the special relationship
between journalists and their sources in sensitive roles, a journalist
is exposed to information, much of which has security implications."
"As people who act according to ethics and the laws of the country,
journalists in Israeli media publish security-related news only after
gaining approval from the military censor. This is how Uri Blau acted."
"Every investigative journalist has in their possession files that were
leaked from unofficial sources. We do not know another way to reveal
instances of government corruption, injustices and offenses to the public,
whose perpetrators would prefer to continue uninterrupted."
Seven leading military affairs commentators said they were disturbed
about Blau's indictment. In a joint statement, they expressed concerns,
"Having reported on the defense establishment for decades, we deal daily
with gathering information defined as confidential."
"Even if Blau exceeded agreements made with him and acted improperly,
or with a lack of good faith, the attorney general's indictment....is
the crossing of a red line that constitutes a dangerous precedent for
press freedom in Israel."
Others also expressed alarm about Israel's war on press freedom. It
stifles truth and reflects high-level complicity to suppress state crimes.
Exposing them provides a vital service. Prosecuting journalists or anyone
for doing it shows contempt for democratic values.
A Final Comment
Palestinian rights are entirely marginalized and denied. Military orders
govern virtually all aspects of their lives. Security is cover for repression.
For example, Military Order No. 50 limits Palestinian information sources.
It "prohibits either the bringing to the (Territories) any 'newspaper'
or its 'publication' without a permit from the officer appointed by
the Area Commander for the purposes of this Order."
Military Order No. 107 bans publication of Arabic grammar, Crusades
history, and Arab nationalism.
Military Order No. 101 prohibits freedom of assembly. More than 10 people
gathering publicly requires advance notice with names of all participants
and military permission.
Activist Bassem Tamimi challenges Israel's lawless Separation Wall and
settlements construction. In March 2011, he was arrested and indicted
on five counts. They related to holding weekly Nabi Saleh village demonstrations.
Imprisoned for 13 months, he was released on bail in April. He was acquitted
on three counts. They included incitement, failure to comply with a
"stabilization" order, and obstruction of justice. He was convicted
of organizing protests without permit permission and solicitation of
On May 29, he was sentenced to 30 months. He already served 13. An additional
17 months were suspended. Released, he remains on probation. Terms stipulate
not participating in further demonstrations without express permission.
His expression and assembly rights are denied. Failure to comply will
result in imprisonment for the remainder of his sentence.
Since December 2009, weekly Nabi Saleh demonstrations have been held.
Other villages hold their own. At issue is stealing Palestinian land
for settlement expansions, constructing Israel's Separation Wall inside
the Green Line, and other human rights abuses.
Tamimi is one of many Palestinians affected. So is Bil'in village Popular
Committee against the Wall and Settlements coordinator Abdullah Abu
After being detained for over eight months, he was convicted in August
2010 of "organizing illegal demonstrations" and "incitement." He and
others were demonstrating for justice.
Israel denies Palestinians free expression and assembly rights. Doing
so means arrests, prosecutions and imprisonment. Children young as 10
In December 2011, Tamimi's wife, Nariman, said the following:
"During a time when the entire world is experiencing a wave of demonstrations
and social protests, Bassem and his friends are languishing in the darkness
of continuing imprisonment because, in the shadow of the occupation,
there is no dignity and no freedom of expression."
Palestinians are denied human and civil rights. Israel criminalizes
praying to the wrong God. Jews challenging Israeli lawlessness also
are endangered. Gulag imprisonment awaits anyone who tries.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized
Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News
Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time
and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy