June 28, 2011 by Antony Lerman
Some first rate bloggers and journalists are covering the Gaza flotilla and revealing the lengths to which the Israeli authorities are prepared to go to stop the entire enterprise in its tracks. Not being party to any additional information about what’s going on, I’ve just been following the reports of others with increasing disbelief and astonishment rather than writing about the situation myself. But the black propaganda being churned out by the Israelis has reached such a level that it’s impossible to remain merely an observer. The urge to bring it all to further public attention, in however small a way through my still very young personal blog, is too strong.
For a country that’s constantly preaching to the rest of the world about the strength of its adherence to democratic values, Israel’s attempts to frighten off journalists sailing on the boats so that they can cover events first-hand have been quite extraordinary. The most blatant was the issuing of a threat by Oren Helman, Director of the Government Press Office, in a 26 June letter printed on headed notepaper ‘From the office of the prime minister’:
As Director of the Government Press Office, I would like to make it clear to you and to the media you represent, that participation in the flotilla is an intentional violation of Israeli law and is liable to lead to participants being denied entry into the State of Israel for ten years, the impoundment of their equipment and to additional sanctions.
I implore you to avoid taking part in this provocative and dangerous event, the purpose of which is to undermine Israel’s right to defend itself and to knowingly violate Israeli law.
So much for freedom of the press – a freedom that is in Israel’s own interests since if there are ‘extremists’ aboard intent on pre-meditated acts of violence, as the Israeli authorities initially alleged, the journalists would be there to bear witness and bring such ‘facts’ to public attention. The outcry against this arbitrary and probably illegal measure was so strong that within a couple of days the injunction was withdrawn.
Read the rest of this post here.
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