Israel's Government Press Adviser Quits Over Eroding Journalistic Freedom

Eva Berger explained her decision: The council's objective is to grant its approval of an old wrong, in the guise of democracy, and I will not lend my hand to this.

Talila Nesher
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Talila Nesher

The dean of one of Israel's media studies schools has quit her post as a member of the Government Press Office's advisory council in protest of obstacles it places before freedom of the press.

"The council's objective is to grant its approval of an old wrong, in the guise of democracy - and I will not lend my hand to this," said Eva Berger, dean of the School of Media Studies at the College of Management in Rishon Letzion.

Eva BergerCredit: Moti Milrod

Berger linked her resignation to recent government proposals that many see as restricting freedom of expression, like efforts to make it easier for politicians to sue the media for libel and to block most foreign funding for left-wing nonprofit groups.

The government also recently shut down a Jewish-Palestinian radio station and has threatened to shut Channel 10 television over outstanding debts.

Berger said she wanted her fellow council members to consider whether the government should even be involved in determining who should be considered a journalist.

The GPO issues press passes and determines who is eligible to receive them.

"I naively thought that in light of the dignified composition [of the advisory council], it could be a dynamic and thinking council and could discuss any finding, based on the information it has," she said. "The fact that this is not the case comes on top of the silencing" of anti-establishment voices, which she said was a goal of recent legislative proposals.

Berger also protested the involvement of security forces in assessing applicants' eligibility for the government-approved press passes, an issue that came before the council when journalists for Arab-language media outlets said they were having difficulty securing press passes.

"To put this decision in the hands of the security establishment is to add insult to injury," she said.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: פרשה מוועדה של לשכת העיתונות בשל "סתימת פיות

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