Elections 2009 / Arab Reporters Banned From Campaign Meet of Lieberman's Far-right Party

While Arab reporters were told they needed personal invitation, Jewish and foreign reporters entered freely.

Israeli Arab journalists for Channel 2 television and the Israel Broadcasting Authority were not permitted to enter a campaign gathering held by the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu Party in Haifa on Sunday.

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Haifa Deputy Mayor Yulia Shtraim, a member of the party's municipal faction, said she would not allow the two journalists to enter the hall "because of the Arabs' demonstration and what [the demonstrators] say about Lieberman," referring to party head Avigdor Lieberman.

The reporters, Forat Nassar of Channel 2 and Sami Abed Alhamid of the IBA, were assigned to cover the event at the municipal theater. But at the entrance Shtraim would not let them enter, Nassar said.

Footage he filmed shows the two reporters, who were detained at the entrance, presenting their press cards but to no avail.

"I can't let [you] in. Only [people] I invited personally enter," Shtraim says.

However, Jewish and foreign journalists who had not been invited were allowed to enter and cover the event.

During the gathering left-wing Arab and Jewish activists demonstrated outside the theater against Lieberman and his party.

"Because the Arabs do that to Lieberman," Shtraim said to explain her refusal to allow the Arab reporters in.

Nassar and Alhamid said in vain that they had nothing to do with the demonstration and had been assigned to cover the event.

A Yisrael Beiteinu spokesman commented, "The reporter and the rest of the demonstrators against the party tried to cause provocation and were asked not to enter the hall and not to disturb the gathering."