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Tag: Haaretz

ISRAEL: Anat Not Cool…Do Non-Partisan Journalists Differ?

Graffiti in Israel
In an embarrassing moment for IDF intelligence, the Tel Aviv District Court has several days ago, cleared for publication the report that a journalist from Israel was accused of leaking top-secret information without authorization in an attempt to compromise the State’s security and possession of classified intelligence.

Anat Kam, 23, a reporter for the Walla news website, leaked secret documents which she had stolen from the army, where she served in the office of then-Central Command Chief Yair Naveh.

Kam’s attorney Avigdor Feldman claimed that she acted out of moral motives and not in an attempt to compromise state security and henceforth forwarded the materials to a journalist and not to “hostile elements”.

The public relations expert serving Kam, Nissim Duek, said:

“There is a very big gap between the media talk and the facts which will be revealed in court. The fact is that the court decided to place Kam under house arrest, despite the State’s motion to arrest her and allowed her to keep working as a reporter…Kam was exposed to documents together with hundreds of other junior soldiers, how is that to be explained if those were indeed so classified. How can one explain the fact that she was arrested over a year after the article’s publication? The security elements are trying to paint her as an enemy of the state and she is not.”

In November 2008, Uri Blau of Haaretz reported that the IDF had held discussions which revealed that the army ignored High Court rulings in regards to assassinations of Palestinians; and that the assassinations were carried out following orders given by the Northern Command, “even in cases in which the wanted terror suspects could have been arrested.”

Kam was arrested by the Shin Bet in December 2009, 13 months after the article was published, following an investigation sanctioned by IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and the then-Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.

Kam had burned the files onto a CD and uploaded them onto her personal computer after her release from army service. She then offered the classified material to another journalist, though not resulting in any published reports.

In September of 2009, Blau, through his attorney, handed the Shin Bet some 50 documents which he had received from Kam, as well as his computer, which was destroyed. However, the investigation discovered that Kam had copied and transferred more than 2,000 documents to the Haaretz reporter.

Some of the documents were of detailed plans for past and future IDF operations, combat doctrines, defense plans of Central Command, summaries of meetings between senior IDF officers, information on the deployment of IDF forces and lists of ways to deal with a possible heat up in the territories.

Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin referred to the affair as the most severe in Israeli history, considering the damage it might have caused to the country’s security.
Diskin defined the documents as “highly classified” saying:

“If these documents, even part of them, reach enemy hands or foreign intelligence agencies, this could cause serious, ongoing security damage and danger to IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens…You don’t need to be an expert in information security to understand how much dangerous information there is here.”

Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times journalist Judith Miller addressed the affair in her blog, saying that Blau was staying in London in order to avoid the Shin Bet:

“What is being called the ‘Anat Kam affair’ has produced its own anomaly: Since details about the inquiry have begun spilling out into the non-Israeli press, Israelis can only gossip about what the non-Israeli media are reporting. Violating such gag orders in Israel can result in severe financial penalties for Israeli newspapers and magazines and jail for editors and other media executives…Israel, like the United States at the federal level, also has no shield law that protects journalists from being forced to reveal the sources of their stories… “

Netanyahu Does Washington

Bibi Netanyahu and Barack ObamaBibi and Obama met in the White House’s Oval Office on Tuesday for about an hour and a half. Slightly before the meeting took off, reports surfaced of another controversial construction project approved in east Jerusalem, this time in Sheikh Jarrah. Netanyahu entered the meeting without being aware of the new building permit – or so he said.

U.S. State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley, told The Associated Press that the two countries were engaged in “give and take.” He said, “We are not going to talk about the precise steps both sides have to take. We will continue to discuss those steps privately.”

Meanwhile, Haaretz in English published a poll which showed that Israelis support US President Barack Obama. Well, such results contradict all other polls. At about the same time, the Jerusalem Post published the results of two other polls, which showed that roughly 75% of Israelis feel that Obama’s reaction to the building in Jerusalem was disproportionate and over 60% felt that it harmed the peace process.

The cause of the poll discrepancy is explained in a Jerusalem Post article by Gill Hoffman. The poll was conducted by Israeli pollster Camie Fuchs. A response choice in one survey question was to describe Obama as “inyani.” A word that can be interpreted in different ways. It however does not mean “fair” as Haaretz translated it. Its literal translation is ‘focused on the issues’, ‘professional’, ‘matter of fact’ or ‘business-like’.

Furthermore, the English version of the article in Haaretz offered no detailed tabulation of numbers. The print and online versions of the Hebrew edition of the newspaper showed a graph screening that just 18% of respondents considered Obama “friendly” toward Israel, 3 percentage points fewer than the 21% who said that the president was “hostile” to the Jewish state. 10% of the respondents didn’t know, and 51% called Obama’s approach to the Jewish Country “inyani”. Haaretz incorrectly translated that 69% consider Obama “fair and friendly”.

Destination: Zion

“There are about 200 countries in the world, but it seems that only two attribute holiness to their capital: Israel and Palestine (still not a recognized state, but on the way there). Perhaps three, if we count the Vatican as a state.”

– Yossi Melman

western wall jerusalemU.S. President Barack Obama is delaying an action which would move the U.S. embassy in Israel, from the Tel Aviv coast to the city of Jerusalem. Tel Aviv is the former capital city of the State of Israel – and while the nation always dreamed of having Jerusalem as its capital, the change didn’t actually happen until 1980.

In 1995 a U.S. law was passed, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and in the same ruling it was ordered that the embassy be moved to there. The law also allowed a 6-month leeway to delay the change, in the name of national security grounds – this clause was invoked during the presidencies of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, respectively. Barack Obama joined the U.S. presidential trend of delay, when on Thursday he told Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to delay moving the embassy until at least June.

Madeba mosaic JerusalemThe fear is that left-leaning Obama is thinking along lines similar to Yossi Melman of Haaretz, who wrote an article on June 12th 2009, suggesting that Israel give up Jerusalem as a capital altogether. He suggests that it has always been an obstacle in the Middle East peace process:

“Most capitals contain religious symbols: cathedrals, mosques, temples, but they were not selected as capitals because of these. Even Saudi Arabia did not select Mecca or Medina, holy cities to Muslims, but Riyadh as its capital. Conclusion: The attitudes attributing holiness to a city were, in most countries, isolated from the political considerations that govern and shape day-to-day life.”

The Haaretz contributor added:

“It is hard to understand how two peoples, in the modern era, are willing to die for the sake of religious symbolism of stones and places of worship. Moreover, this ‘holiness’ is preventing any chance of achieving a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

For me, what is so hard to understand is how any Jew could be so removed from the soul of his heritage. If you wish to cite Saudi Arabia as a parallel to Israel, you are already wide of the mark. Saudi Arabia is the home of a culture which conquered much of the world often by the sword – and has most of the world shaking in their boots, today, out of sheer intimidation, inspired by a recent history of vicious violence. Israel, on the other hand, is a nation which has been oppressed more than any other on the planet and was driven from its capital as a result of racial, religious and cultural persecution. Yossi Melman is the one who should change location, not Zion.

Palestinian State within Two Years? Bibi: ‘No Comment’

This’ll be a tough one to swallow. As soon as I finished reading the report on Haaretz, I started laughing. Here’s why. The report began with a blanket statement that negotiations over a Palestinian state will begin next month on the basis of an understanding that a state will be established in two years’ time. The next sentence I read was “Palestinian and European Union sources told Haaretz that talks will initially focus on determining the permanent border…” Then I thought, “well, what about Israel? What did they tell Haaretz?”
 
Apparently…nothing. And then this sentence: “It is understood that this will be accompanied by a public American and European declaration that the permanent border will be based on the border of June 4, 1967.”
 
Public American and European declaration…what about Israel? I guess she just slipped their minds.

They finally get to Netanyahu and Israel somewhere in the next paragraph. Here’s what they say: “Likewise, Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and that the Arab world embark on normalizing ties with Israel, will not constitute preconditions to an “early recognition” of Palestine.”
 
In other words, Israel is actually irrelevant, and her demands may as well be perfectly ignored. That’s what about Israel.
 
Shimon Peres, who by some amazingly weird miracle is somehow still involved in politics after losing every single election he ran for since the mid 80’s, called Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s plan to announce a de facto Palestinian State within two years, something worthy of a “Palestinian Ben Gurion”. 

As for Netanyahu’s opinion of Fayyad, Haaretz had this to say: “Netanyahu has not yet commented on Fayyad’s plan.”
 
With such overwhelming consensus, we can definitely afford to say, “Well, uh…sure, maybe this time it’ll work.”

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