Censorship is incompatible with Israel’s claim to be a “democracy”
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.”
Freedom of the press is a hallmark of a free and open democracy. It is inevitable that there will always be some restrictions on a free press; the most widely accepted being those pertaining to personal privacy and those relating to national security. However, in Israel today freedom of information is just one more area to come under attack by the Israeli establishment and the truth is another victim. Censorship, in its many forms, is being taken to an extreme degree, one most unbecoming of a so-called “democratic” nation. Under the guise of “security” Israel is taking quite extraordinary measures to censor news coming out of both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). Israel, in fact, has such a blatant disregard for or to be more accurate, a blatant hostility towards journalists reporting on the “wrong side” of the conflict that it actually resorts to the deportation, banning, arrest, intimidation, physical abuse and even killing of journalists, seemingly with total impunity.
Many journalists from the West may be “lucky” enough to be wined and dined, flown over to the Holy Land and given the 5-star treatment, including luxury accommodation, free meals and a guided tour of Israel’s flourishing nation. However, for those journalists who are after the truth and who do not want to be spoon-fed Israeli PR spin while lounging in a sunny seaside resort or in a nightclub in Tel Aviv, just to regurgitate it later; and for those who choose instead to head straight to the field to report on the heart of the conflict where the real news is taking place, they can expect to receive a very different welcome. Journalists who go to the sites where Palestinian homes are being demolished routinely or who go to witness the weekly Palestinian protests against the illegal Israeli apartheid wall in places like Bil’in, see a very different side of Israeli “hospitality”.
Israel’s treatment of such journalists, be they foreign or domestic, is shameful and the tactics used to control the flow of information coming out of Israel and the OPTs are many. They include:
1. The killing and wounding of journalists by Israeli forces
2. Banning journalists from entering certain newsworthy areas
3. Expulsion of journalists unsympathetic to Israel
4. Military censorship
5. Utilising gag orders, house arrest and forcing reporters into hiding abroad
6. Attacking Palestinian media infrastructure
7. Controlling and censoring the language used
8. An Israeli culture of self-imposed censorship
9. Blocking non-media investigations
10. Preventing critics of Israel from speaking out