The Unfairness Doctrine

The National Federation of Israeli Journalists may sever ties with the International Federation of Journalists because of what they call the IFJ’s unfairly singling out Israel for “unfair treatment.” The Jerusalem Post reports:

“The impetus for the break comes following a communiqué sent by the IFJ to UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon in November citing Israel as one of six countries where ‘women journalists face threats, political pressure, violence, rape and abuse either due to their gender or simply for doing their jobs.’

It looks like there are no answers and the IFJ is going back to the bad old days of working with twisted politics instead of with professionalism,’ he wrote, adding, ‘We cannot take part in a show like that.'”

How lumping Israel in with five other countries is singling it out, I’m not sure. What is for sure is that this kind of whining is typical for pro-Israel propagandists whenever someone or some group violates the sacred taboo and dares to hold the Jewish state accountable. Famed civil libertarian and torture advocate Alan Dershowitz’s absurd denunciation of the International Court of Justice’s non-binding resolution on Israel’s separation (apartheid) wall is one such example; CAMERA’s lying about an “overwhelming” pro-Arab and anti-Israel bias that supposedly exists among major media outlets like the New York Times is another one.

Zacken’s complaint is that Israel is far kinder and gentler than the other countries on the list and that the IFJ’s decision is primarily motivated by politics:

“The latest dispute between the federation and the international body was sparked when the IFJ compared Israel to countries such as Mexico, the Philippines, Somalia, Russia and Nepal, where over the past few years women journalists have been murdered or faced violent sexual assaults while doing their jobs.

While there were several recent reports of Israeli authorities harassing female journalists and even arrests of Palestinian female journalists in the past, there have been no known cases of extreme violence or deaths as a result of mistreatment.”

This was also the view of one right-wing blogger who compared the relatively benign treatment afforded female reporters in Israel with their counterparts in Egypt. The IFJ’s statement isn’t specific, but presumably their designation of Israel has to do with the treatment of New York Times photographer Lynsey Addario, who was made to go through an X-Ray machine despite telling the Israelis she was  seven months pregnant and Al-Jazeera news producer Najwa Simri, also pregnant and who was forced to undergo similar treatment.

These two miss the point – the female reporters were targeted not because they were female, but because Israel – just like the other countries – fear and loathe scrutiny. Israel has a history of attacking those that bear witness to its transgressions, like this pattern of attacks demonstrates – and this recent attack on a female French activist and a female B’Tselem volunteer.

Downplaying the Israeli incidents isn’t only a blatant and typical pro-Israel tactic … it’s a distinctly male point of view; one that seems to belittle the experiences of women who undergo these traumatic and humiliating experiences. I’m sure relativity matters little to Addario and Simri; nor would it matter to any woman that’s been in that kind of situation. Abuse is abuse, whether it’s at the brutal hands of Egyptian police, or at the hands of insensitive Israelis – or whether or not they were targeted for their gender.

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