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2016:

06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics

2015:

23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

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2014:

15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

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19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

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2013:

29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

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18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

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Posts

Thuggish choke on Palestinian media freedom

1) Media File links Israeli attacks on Palestinian media to leaving UNESCO; 2) and 3) MADA documents rise in Israeli media violations in October; NOTES and LINKS on the RSF ranking of press freedom.


Palestinians check the notices of their locked and barred office at Transmedia, Hebron, October 2017. Photo by Mussa Qawasma, Reuters

Israel Shuts Down Palestinian Media Outlets Shortly After Joining U.S. in UNESCO Withdrawal

By Shayna Greene, Media File
November 06, 2017

Israel has shut down eight Palestinian media outlets in the West Bank and the Gaza strip only a few weeks after deciding to withdraw from the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). According to Al Jazeera, the media outlets were closed by the Israeli army to halt potentially terrorist-sympathetic broadcasting.

According to Ma’an News Agency, the Israeli army confiscated equipment and shut down offices during a wave of raids in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, including TransMedia and Palmedia offices, which were closed with a six-month military order.

Israeli forces had orders to seize documents from companies that “provided services to associations that promote terrorism and violence.” Al Jazeera also reported that 14 Palestinians were detained during the raids.

A spokesperson for the Israeli army added that media outlets that were “suspected in [of?] broadcasting inciting content and promoting violence and terrorism against Israelis” had to be searched. The TransMedia and Palmedia offices in Nablus and Hebron, for instance, were closed for “providing services to Hamas-affiliated news channels al-Aqsa and al-Quds TV.”

Al Jazeera has also experienced conflict with the Israeli government.

This past August, Israeli Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said he intended to close the Al Jazeera’s bureau in Israel because he felt that many countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, agreed that Al Jazeera supports terrorism based on the articles the site publishes. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Kara also promised to “revoke its journalists’ press passes and cut off its cable and satellite broadcast links in the country.”

The raids on Palestinian media came after Israel decided to withdraw from UNESCO along with the United States, which is an international organization that not only commits member countries to standards of education, science and culture but to press freedom as well.

According to RSF, one of the main objectives for UNESCO is “to promote the respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms.” A specific mandate regarding press freedom reads: “the free flow of ideas by word and image; it works to foster free, independent and pluralistic media in print, broadcast and online.”

Though the purpose of the Israeli government’s tactics is to eradicate terrorist-sympathetic or violence-inducing content from its media, withdrawing from UNESCO could result in the sacrifice of the country’s standard of press freedom.

UNESCO’s purpose is to coordinate international co-operation. In other words, it holds its members to a standard so that the citizens of the world have a chance at press freedom, education, science and culture. If people are denied these rights, UNESCO can then work at implementing them–which is futile without the support of influential nations such as the U.S. and Israel.

RSF also reports that UNESCO has recorded the killings of “close to 1,000 journalists and media workers since 2007.” The organization is also primarily responsible for ensuring the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and Issue of Impunity.

The Trump administration declared that the U.S. would withdraw from this international organization on Dec. 31, 2018 due to fiscal reasons and alleged “anti-Israel bias.” The U.S. has provided a significant amount of UNESCO’s funding in previous years. With the U.S. out, UNESCO will have a considerable set back in financing all of its programs, specifically those that holds countries accountable for attacks on journalists.

The U.S. State Department released a statement saying, “This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO,” according to The Guardian.

The U.S. withdrew from UNESCO in 1984 and rejoined in 2003. According to RSF, the U.S. cut the amount of funding given to the organization in 2011 in response to the organization giving full membership to the State of Palestine. Israel and the U.S. have criticized UNESCO on other alleged “anti-Israeli” actions, such as establishing the city of Hebron as a Palestinian world heritage site.

According to The Guardian, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed support for its long-time ally by stating, “This is a brave and moral decision, because UNESCO has become a theatre of absurd. Instead of preserving history, it distorts it.”

Carmel Shama-Hacohen, Israeli’s envoy to UNESCO says it is the ‘Titanic of international organizations’

In contrast, the director general for UNESCO Irina Bokova, said, “At the time when conflicts continue to tear apart societies across the world, it is deeply regrettable for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations agency promoting education for peace and protecting culture under attack.”

“It is deeply regrettable for the US to withdraw from UNESCO, the UN agency promoting education for peace & protecting culture under attack”October 12, 2017

Bokova continued by saying, “This is a loss to the United Nations family. This is a loss for multilateralism.”


Israeli violations of Palestinian media freedoms in October highest for 2017

By Ma’an
November 09, 2017

BETHLEHEM –The Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) monitored 28 violations against media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territory during October, 27 of which were carried out by Israeli forces, according to a statement released by the group on Wednesday.

According to the group, the number of violations committed by Israeli forces increased from 22 in September to 27 during October, all of which were “serious attacks.” The statement added that the violations in October constituted the most serious of all violations of media freedoms in the territory recorded since the beginning of 2017.

Israeli violations of media freedoms in October included storming 10 offices and headquarters of Pal Media, Trans Media and Ramsat media companies in the cities of Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem and Nablus, “confiscating their property and turning 94 journalists and employees working in these institutions jobless,” MADA said.

“Not only did these companies lose their work… but they have also endured heavy losses of equipment as a result of the destruction and confiscation of property,” MADA said, adding that these media companies used to provide at least 15 local, Arab and foreign TV channels with media services.

The Israeli occupation forces arrested four Palestinian journalists during October, two of whom were working for Trans Media, and were arrested during the raid on the company’s offices.

Palestinian government violations continued to decline, dropping from four violations in September to one single violation during October, MADA said.

The October violation occurred when the government summoned and interrogated a journalist in the West Bank.

Palestinian journalists often describe their work as a form of “resistance,” as they believe their stories show the world the devastating effects of Israel’s policies on Palestinians and provide Palestinians an outlet for their voices in a media climate that is often overshadowed by pro-Israeli narratives.


Israeli forces raid, shut down Palestinian media offices

By Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA)
Posted on IFEX, October 23, 2017

This statement was originally published on madacenter.org on 18 October 2017.

The Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) strongly condemns the Israeli Occupation Forces’ (IOF) escalated attacks against Palestinian media outlets and media freedom in Palestine.

The most recent attack included the shutting down of three media production companies and their branches in Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, and Bethlehem. Israeli forces stormed their headquarters, destroying and confiscating equipment in an attempt to silence the Palestinian media through these severe attacks and discriminatory policies.

These media companies have been operating for years and do important work by providing media services to numerous TV channels and Palestinian and other Arabic and foreign media outlets.

A wave of attacks by the Israeli occupation forces at dawn on Wednesday, 18 October 2017, consisted of storming into media offices, and confiscating and destroying equipment. In total, 10 headquarters and offices of the companies Pal-Media, Trans Media and Ramsat were shut down, in the cities of Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem and Nablus. A total of 94 journalists and other staff are employed by these media outlets.

Furthermore, the director of Trans Media in Hebron, Amer Al-Ja’bari, was arrested, along with the managing director of the same company, Ibrahim Al-Ja’bari.

The Israeli Occupation forces implemented and carried out these serious and massive attacks simultaneously, as dozens of soldiers stormed the headquarters of the three companies, confiscated their contents and loaded them onto trucks. Moreover, the main entrances to these companies were closed, with metal panels being installed at the front doors of the headquarters and the media offices. Military orders were hung on the doors, stipulating that the offices in question would be shut down for six months, on allegations of “practicing incitement” according to the closure orders.

Ibrahim Bishara Alhusari, the financial manager of Trans-media, reported to MADA that, “Israeli occupation forces stormed the Trans Media headquarters in the Al-Quds Bank building in Al-Bireh, at around 2 am today (18 October).

They confiscated equipment from the office, which is used for television broadcasting, including cameras, editing equipment, lighting equipment, and audio devices worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Soon after their withdrawal, we headed to the headquarters of the company and found that the doors were shut with iron panels suspended over top, and a posted closure order for Trans Media for six months on the pretext that it provides services and facilitates the work of institutions that incite terrorism. It should be noted that we provide a huge service to various media outlets such as Palestine Today, TRT Turkish Arabic and English, AlGhad Al Arabi, the Arab channel, Orient, in addition to foreign channels such as the BBC.”

He also added “at the same time as they stormed the headquarters of the company in Albireh, they also stormed other branches of the company in Nablus and Hebron, besides confiscating several pieces of equipment and issuing the shut down order… the IOF summoned the director of the Hebron office, Amer al-Ja’bari, and administrative director Ibrahim al-Ja’bari, on the phone, claiming that they did not want to break into the office, and arrested them. Afterwards they headed to Amer’s house and confiscated his mobile phones.”

Trans Media HQ has been raided, all equipment and media items have been confiscated, and iron panels have been installed on the front door

Mahmoud Naji Zakarneh, who works in photography and editing in Ramsat, informed MADA that “the company’s headquarters in Nablus and Ramallah have been raided, all equipment and all media items have been confiscated, and iron panels have been installed on the front door with a closure order issued by the military for a period of six months”.

He added, “it is hard to estimate the value of what was confiscated, although they listed all the items and equipment that was confiscated on the entrance [of the office] which was shut down for six months.”

Similarly, the IOF stormed its offices of Pal-Media located on the ninth and tenth floors of the Palestine tower in Ramallah, as well as its other offices located in Bethlehem, Nablus and Hebron, and confiscated most of its equipment. The front door was shut and covered with metal panels. A closure order issued by the military was posted on its front door, stating that it was being shut down for six months and warned of consequences if it failed to comply. Pal-Media provides media services to several channels including Alquds, Russia today, Al-Mayadeen, Almanar and Syria.

We at the Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) are gravely concerned about the drastic violations which we see as a new harsh blow to the media profession and media freedom in Palestine generally. It is an attempt to silence the Palestinian media by shutting down these media offices, and forcing them to incur huge loses and prosecution under allegations and the pretext of incitement.

Considering the physical violations and assaults that Palestinian journalists are exposed to in the field, we hereby call on all media and human rights international organizations to put real pressure on the Israeli Occupation Authorities: urge them to reopen all these media outlets, provide reparations for the losses incurred and return all confiscated items and equipment, and to put an end to all violations that target media freedom and hold all perpetrators accountable.


NOTES AND LINKS

RSF Index of World Press Freedom

RSF = Rapporteurs Sans Frontières

Out of a ranked list of press freedom in 180 countries, headed by the  Scandinavian countries, Israel comes in 91st, below Kyrgyzstan and Peru but above Nicaragua. It is above all Arab states, with Palestine at 135. Bottom of the list is North Korea. The UK has slipped below France and Slovenia to 40th (find out why), two above the USA at 43.

Israel is well below all European countries, the worst ranked of which is Albania at 76. The worst ranked W. European country is Italy, home of media monopolist Berlusconi, at 52.

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