While the story is still developing, and the Prime Minister’s office seems to be backtracking from previous statements by the FPO about possible restrictions placed on journalists who participate in the illegal attempts by Hamas affiliated flotillas to break Israel’s blockade, one commenter, who goes by the moniker of TheVoiceOfIsrael, expressed, with admirable lucidity, Israel’s concerns about such activist journalists beneath Roy Greenslade’s blog, “Israel warns journalists – do not sail with Gaza flotilla”, June 27th.
This has nothing to do with freedom of the press. The number of foreign journalists in Israel is relatively the highest in the world. This even includes Al Jazeera and other Arab media journalists from countries that do not even have diplomatic relations with Israel, and even from some countries that are hostile to the Jewish state.
According to independent NGOs, the level of freedom of the press in Israel is among the highest in the world, and certainly higher than any other country in the Middle East (and that includes Turkey). Israel’s freedom of the press is even greater that in Italy and other western European countries. (See Freedom House/Freedom of the Press).
That does not mean that journalists in Israel are not bound by the law, as are all people in Israel. If a foreign visitor or resident breaks the law in the United States they are liable to be restricted from entering the US for 10 years. It is a reasonable rule, and is similar to rules in Europe and other parts of the free world. Journalists do not get any special treatment in that respect either in Israel, the United States, or elsewhere.
It is against Israel law to participate in an attempt to breach a legal arms blockade against the Hamas terrorist regime (as defined by the European Union, the US, Israel, Australia, Canada, and other countries). Any foreign national is therefore liable to be restricted from entering Israel if they do so, and any Israeli national is subject to prosecution.
Some readers may not like this situation but it is perfectly legal and it is perfectly reasonable, and has absolutely nothing to do with freedom of the press.
And beyond all that, it should be obvious to anyone that without the international media, the pro-Hamas flotilla would not try to breach the arms blockade. This flotilla is looking for a confrontation with Israel and all its members are really interested in is provocation. There is no value to any of their actions if there is no news media available to help them play to their international audience. In that respect, any participating members of the news media are not only breaking the law, they are also giving support and comfort to the Hamas terror organization.
Now, if you happen to support the pro-Hamas flotilla (be it because you are naive, misinformed, or you just plain hate Israel), then of course you will see things very differently. But we, here in Israel don’t. The pro-Hamas flotilla will not be permitted to reach Gaza, and hopefully this time when confronted by the Israel navy, the participants will not resort to violence, so that bloodshed can be avoided.
Whatever Israeli policy regarding such journalists participating in this political publicity stunt, the inclusion of anti-Israel propagandists like Mya Guarnieri and Joseph Dana on the flotillas assure that, no matter how adeptly the highly trained and disciplined Israeli Navy personnel handle the situation, Israel will be demonized. Anyone expecting anything resembling objectivity from such ideologically driven activists are beyond naive.