Editorial |

Leave Al Jazeera Alone

Israel’s decision to revoke Elias Karran’s press card is an assault on freedom of expression and on journalistic freedom

Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
File photo: Benjamin Netanyahu at Al Jazeera offices
File photo: Benjamin Netanyahu at Al Jazeera officesCredit: Daniel Bar-On / Gini
Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial

The head of the Government Press Office, Nitzan Chen, moved to revoke the press card of Al Jazeera’s senior correspondent in Jerusalem, Elias Karram, pending a hearing. In a statement, the GPO attributed the decision to an interview Karram gave over a year ago to a television station identified with the Muslim Brotherhood, in which he said that his journalistic work was part of his contribution to Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation. The GPO admitted that it received the “evidence” against Karam from the Prime Minister’s Office and from Communications Minister Ayoub Kara. “Let him broadcast from Ramallah, not from us,” Minister Kara told Walla in an interview, leaving no doubt what he expected of the GPO.

This step is part of the war the new communications minister, directed by the prime minister, is waging against the biggest and most important Arabic network in the world. Karram’s credentials are being revoked more than a year after his “incriminating” interview was published. Israel thus joined Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the fight against the Qatar-based network.

Karram is an Israeli citizen. Revoking his press card is mainly a declarative step, lacing any practical meaning other than harassment. Despite this, one should not take lightly Chen’s intentions of trying to scare and to silence anyone who criticizes Israel. Today it’s Al Jazeera, tomorrow it’s other international networks. Today it’s the foreign press, tomorrow the Israeli media.

Israel need not like everything Al Jazeera broadcasts to let it operate freely. Karram is a journalist whose worldview dictates that his work is part of his people’s national struggle. As long as he is not breaking the law, it is his full right. There are many Israeli journalists on both sides of the political spectrum, who dedicate their journalistic work to the struggle of ideas, including opposition to the occupation, or, more gravely, to supporting the occupation and illegal settlement. It is not the job of the GPO and the communications minister to examine journalists with a magnifying glass to determine if they are acting in accordance to what the government considers the right political view. Nor is it the GPO’s job to offer a parochial interpretation of the rules of journalistic ethics and to rule on the universal fairness of a news report in line with the worldview of the right-wing government.

Levying sanctions against journalists constitutes an assault on the democratic principles of journalist freedom and freedom of expression. Not only the professional fate of Karram, or even Al Jazeera, is at stake but also journalistic freedom in Israel, which the government, through its press office, is trying to undermine.

Al Jazeera correspondent Elias Karram.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott