Journalists: Only Israeli Arabs Prosecuted for Going to Enemy Countries

Israeli journalist Itai Anghel says that unlike Majd Kayyal, he didn't get into trouble for visiting countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Israeli Arab journalist Majd Kayyal in court, April 20, 2014.Credit: Rami Shlush
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

If the Israeli Arab journalist Majd Kayyal does end up being prosecuted, according to the Shin Bet security service it will only be for visiting an enemy state without authorization, but Jewish journalists who have gone undercover in enemy lands think even that is unreasonable.

Itai Anghel, an investigative journalist for the Israel Channel 2 program “Uvda,” secretly entered Afghanistan, and reported from Iraq in both 2003 and 2005. Around a year and a half ago he entered Syria from Turkey, to cover the Syrian civil war.

“I’m a working journalist who obeys the law, but no one ever told me there was a problem with what I was doing,” Anghel told Haaretz, adding he never suspected that he was breaking any laws. “At no point did I hear from anyone ‘Hey, why are you doing this, you know there’s a problem with this.’ If anyone had said anything we might have argued with them, but no one ever said this is a problem. On the contrary, people said, ‘great job.’

“We’re Channel 2, there’s nothing more open than that, with promos before and a big splash after. At no time did any official come and say that there was a problem,” Anghel said.

He added that while he did not yet know the details of Kayyal’s arrest and detention, other Arab Israeli journalists have visited the enemy states he went to.

“If anyone thinks we have connections and get permits from the state – well, we get nothing,” Anghel said, adding, “That has never come up as an option, nor would I want to do that. You are going to a place that if anyone finds out you’re there, you’re risking death.

“In the Mossad, people leak things and write books about the most classified matters,” he continued. “So who are you going to tell? Not your parents, not your editorial office, it’s something you don’t tell anyone. Of course, when you return, everyone knows. And if someone did that, and they arrested him for nothing, just because he’s an Israeli Arab, then that doesn’t seem reasonable. There should be no discrimination between him and me.”

Amir Tibon, who went with Anghel to Syria for “Uvda” and now writes for the Walla! web portal, adds, “After the trip to Syria the only people I heard from were in the defense establishment, asking me to lecture at army bases.”

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