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July 20, 2006
Israeli Journalists Leave IFJ

Accusing the International Federation of Journalists of "cowardice", the Israel Association of Journalists suspended its membership in the IFJ after it defended Hezbollah's Al-Manar television channel as a "free press" and condemned the IDF attack on their facilities. The IFJ said that the Israeli bombing of their broadcast facilities showed a "policy of using violence to silence the media":

The Israel Association of Journalists decided on Thursday to suspend its membership in the International Federation of Journalists to protest the association's condemnation of Israel's attacks on Hizbullah's Al-Manar television network.

In a strongly worded letter, the Israeli journalists accused IFJ general secretary Aidan White of "cowardice" for not retracting the organization's condemnation of Israel and said White deserved a "badge of shame" for calling the Hizbullah propaganda tool "free press."

"Al Manar gets its budget from the same people firing upon us," said the Israeli representative on the IFJ executive, Israel Radio broadcaster Yaron Enosh. "They are not journalists, they are terrorists and I won't be a member of the same organization as terrorists." ...

When Israel asked for a retraction of the condemnation, White issued a new press release three days later that condemned Israel for other incidents and again made no mention of Hizbullah attacks on journalists in Israel. Hizbullah kidnapped a group of journalists on Thursday night and later released them.

Al-Manar qualifies as a free press in the same manner as Hezbollah qualifies as a free-market political party. The television channel exists to broadcast terrorist propaganda. Even the EU recognizes it: they banned Al-Manar from European satellites six years ago. It has the same independent quality as Leni Riefenstahl did during the 1936 Olympics.

The IDF selected Al-Manar as a target for simple tactical reasons. The first task for a modern military offensive is to remove the command and control capabilities of the enemy. Hezbollah owned and ran Al-Manar, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to imagine how it could be used to assist in enemy movements, let alone propaganda dissemination.

As Enosh notes, White never mentioned the Hezbollah kidnapping of four journalists, later released. He also never mentioned the thousands of rockets and missiles raining down on Israeli towns and cities, which put journalists as well as others at risk. White also never mentions the fact that Hezbollah hardly supports an open and free press even apart from Al-Manar -- or perhaps White didn't pay too much attention to the entire Prophet Cartoons controversy.

Israel's journalists do not need membership in a journalistic society that cannot distinguish between an open society at war and the terrorists that have attacked it. Nor does such a group seem particularly credible when they cannot distinguish between real journalists and propaganda artists. Does the IFJ have Baghdad Bob as an advisor?

UPDATE: Bruce Kesler notes the seven North American journalist federations that belong to the IFJ. They should demand the retraction of White's assertions, as well as an apology to the Israeli journalists.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 20, 2006 3:24 PM

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Tracked on July 25, 2006 2:14 PM


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