Research by CAMERA Arabic
An article by the Guardian’s Chris McGreal (Israel added to list of ‘worst jailers of journalists’ for first time, Jan. 18) copy and pasted from a Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) report, seemingly without doing any of his own research or fact-checking.
A report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released on Thursday said that for the first time Israel figures in its list of “worst jailers of journalists”, putting it on a par with Iran.
Israel is in sixth place after the CPJ recorded 17 Palestinian journalists in its jails in December, the first time the country has featured among the worst offenders. It is now holding 19. Others were detained and released. Iran was also imprisoning 17 journalists.
However, there’s no indication that any of the Palestinians in question were arrested because of their work as journalists, and the CPJ report doesn’t go into much detail on the circumstances surrounding their imprisonment. This is important because the desired take-away in McGreal’s report is that their arrests represent an Israeli crackdown on the freedom of the press. In fact, even CPJ admits that two of the seventeen arrested journalists, Tarek el-Sharif and Mohammad al-Atrash, were charged with incitement – which, let’s remember, is a crime in the UK as well. (Tarek el-Sharif, who was, even according to the CPJ, arrested for glorifying terrorists, is employed by Raya FM, which frequently calls the killings of civilians by Palestinian terrorists “heroic”)
Further, as research by our colleagues at CAMERA Arabic shows, another three of those on CPJ’s list, Radwan Qatanan, Mohammad Alatrash and Alaa Rimawi, have a record of praising terrorism.
Mohammad Alatrash shared a video on his Facebook page which likened Oct 7th to a medical procedure aimed at removing a cancerous tumor (“the occupation”) from the Palestinian body.
Alaa Rimawi, in a X post, called the Palestinian terrorist responsible for the 2014 murder of a Jewish infant in Jerusalem as a ‘martyr’ after he was killed. He also called the Palestinian terrorist who killed two Israeli civilians in Jerusalem’s Old City a “martyr” after he was killed.
Another Palestinian who CPJ included, Amer Abu Arafa, works for Quds Press, an outfit – our Arabic researchers confirm – that routinely echoes Hamas’s propaganda, and thus can’t seriously be characterised as a professional media outlet. For instance, Quds Press regularly calls killings of civilians “heroic”:
An additional Palestinian listed, Abdel Nasser Al-Laham, works for Ma’an News Agency – an outfit aligned with Fatah that regularly calls killings of civilians murdered by Palestinian terrorists “heroic”
Nawaf al-Amer, also on the CPJ list, is affiliated with Sanad News Agency – another propaganda site which echoes the Hamas line and regularly praises, as ‘heroic‘, Palestinian terrorists who murder Israeli civilians.
So, eight of the seventeen ‘journalists’ in question have either praised terrorism or are affiliated with outlets which do so.
As David Collier’s research on CPJ’s report alleging that 70 Palestinian journalists killed since Oct. 7 demonstrated, the mere fact that someone was killed by IDF fire who at some point worked in the media profession doesn’t meant that their profession was necessarily the reason why they were killed. Similarly, the fact that seventeen Palestinians who claim to be journalists have been arrested does not, in lieu of additional evidence, indicate that they were arrested because of the work they do.
Given that the internationally respected human rights watchdog groups Freedom House routinely gives Israel high marks for media freedom, and the fact that a disproportionate number of foreign journalists freely cover Israel and the territories, the burden of proof is on the Guardian to prove that there’s in an Israeli effort to suppress the Palestinian media.