Israel Proposes “Special” Cards for Palestinian Journalists

The Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) has proposed issuing ‘special’ cards to Palestinian journalists in lieu of the standard press cards
received by all other accredited journalists working in Israel and the Occupied Territories. “The day is not far off when whoever writes against the feelings of the nationalist camp will have his press card revoked.”

The Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) has proposed issuing ‘special’ cards to Palestinian journalists in lieu of the standard press cards
received by all other accredited journalists working in Israel and the Occupied Territories.

This proposal, drafted by the Government Press Office, was revealed Tuesday (Dec. 18) on ‘y-net’ (website of the Hebrew mass distribution daily Yediot Aharonot).

In this article, Israeli officials justified the proposal
with assertions that Palestinian journalists “disseminate Palestinian propaganda and don’t meet journalistic standards for fair coverage.” (Of course, no such step is taken against the considerable number of Israeli journalists whose writing has turned during the past year into little more than war propaganda).

Ha’aretz Dec.19 included in its report by Uri Ayalon the following quote from the Gush Shalom press release of the day before:

“Uri Avnery, head of the Gush Shalom movement, described the issuing of
the special cards as “part of the war to break the Palestinian entity” and added that it jeopardizes freedom of the press in Israel.

“The day is not far off when whoever writes against the feelings of the nationalist
camp will have his press card revoked.”

Please find below a sample protest letter which you may send to the Israeli Minister of Communications; please feel free to make changes or send your own letter.

The Ministry of Communications does not have an email address(?!?), so please send the letter by fax:

Fax: +972 2 6240029

Tel: + 972 2 6753219, 972 2 6753266.

And please, send a copy of your letter to:
rtic@alt-info.org

Dear Minister Rivlin,

I am writing to demand an end to the Israeli proposal to issue Palestinian journalists (who work in international film crews) with “special assistant
cards” in lieu of the regular press cards issued to all other accredited journalists working in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

This proposal, drafted by the Government Press Office (under the auspices of your office), was revealed Tuesday (December 18) on the Hebrew-
language news website ‘y-net.’ In this article, Israeli officials justified the proposal with assertions that Palestinian journalists “disseminate
Palestinian propaganda and don’t meet journalistic standards for fair coverage.”

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right
includes freedom to hold opinions without interference. This obligation is further strengthened by Article 19.2 of the International Covenant of
Civil and Political Rights, which states that “everyone shall have the right to
freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers.”

Article 1 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) defines racial discrimination as “any
distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.” Article 5 of CERD further adds that States Parties undertake to guarantee the right of everyone to freedom of opinion and expression. Israel’s categorisation of journalists according to race and ethnicity is a clear violation of these legally binding provisions.

In addition, this proposal indicates a possible violation of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of
Apartheid. Article 2 of this Convention states that ‘crimes of apartheid’ include acts such as “any legislative measures and other measures
calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from right to freedom of movement, the right to freedom of opinion and expression.”

This proposal appears to also violate Article 1 of the International Labour Organisation 1958 Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (No. 111) concerning Discrimination in respect of Employment and Occupation.

A letter in this matter has been sent to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Mary Robinson, and to other local and international human
rights organisations.

As the Minister directly responsible for this proposal, I trust that you will cancel it immediately in order to comply Israel’s obligations under international human rights law.

Author: Gush Shalom and Alternative Information Center

News Service: Gush Shalom / AIC

URL: http://www.gush-shalom.org/