Media of Israel

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The media of Israel refers to print, broadcast and online media available in Israel. Israel boasts dozens of newspapers, magazines, and radio stations, which play an important role by the press in political, social and cultural life and cater it to a modern, developed and literate society.

There are over 10 different languages in the Israeli media,[1] with Hebrew as the predominant one. Arabic daily, Al-Ittihad, and many Arabic periodicals are published in Israel. The Arabic press caters to the Israeli Arab population, with readers from areas including those governed by the Palestinian Authority. During the eighties and nineties, the Israeli press underwent a process of significant change as the media gradually came to be controlled by a limited number of organizations, whereas the papers published by political parties began to disappear. Today, three large, privately owned conglomerates based in Tel Aviv dominate the mass media in Israel.[2]

Censorship in Israel is relatively low compared to other countries, but may be exercised only when it is certain that publication of the item in question would harm public safety. When an item is censored, the newspaper may appeal the censor's ruling to a "committee of three," composed of a member of the public (who serves as the chairman), a representative of the army and a representative of the press. The decisions of the committee are binding, and over the years it has in many cases overruled the decision of the censor.[2]

The press[edit]

History[edit]

The history of the press began in 1863 during the Ottoman Empire and before the creation of Israel, with Ha-Levanon and Havazzelet being the first weekly Hebrew newspapers established. In 1952, the International Publishing Company J-M Ltd was established as the state's first book publisher.[3] Censorship was regularly enforced in years after the creation of Israel, throughout the Yom Kippur War and the 1970s.[3] In 1986, the government allowed for the establishment of private and commercial media outlets to run in competition with state media.[3]

Current status[edit]

The Israeli government generally respects press freedom, which is protected by the Basic Laws of Israel and independent judiciary.[4] Hate speech, and publishing praise of violence or issues of national security is prohibited.[4] While Israeli journalists operate with little restriction, the government has placed more restrictions on Palestinian journalists working in the region, as RWB alleges that the authorities entered Palestinian offices and homes looking for "illegal material".[broken citation][5] The media does carry criticism of government policy.[4]

Freedom of the press[edit]

Israel[edit]

U.S. Department of State

An United States report in 2006 wrote the following regarding press freedom in Israel:[6]

"The law provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government generally respected these rights in practice, subject to restrictions concerning security issues. The law prohibits hate speech and incitement to violence, and the 1948 Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance prohibits expressing support for illegal or terrorist organizations."

"The country has 12 daily newspapers, 90 weekly newspapers, more than 250 periodical publications, and a number of Internet news sites. All newspapers in the country were privately owned and managed. Political parties and religious bodies owned three minor dailies designed for Orthodox Jewish readers. The 1933 Journalism Ordinance and the British Mandate Defense Regulation for the Emergency Time Period were adopted upon establishment of the state; subsequently, the ordinance was never amended. The Ministry of Interior has no authority over the military censor. According to the Journalism Ordinance, anyone wishing to publish a newspaper must apply for a license from the locality where the newspaper will be published. The ordinance also allows the Minister of Interior, under certain conditions, to close a newspaper. In 2004 the High Court heard a petition filed by ACRI challenging the ordinance. ACRI withdrew its petition after the Interior Ministry pledged to prepare legislation effectively canceling the ordinance. At year's end legislation had not been enacted."

"The Israel Broadcast Authority, the country's state broadcasting network, controls the Hebrew-language Israel Television (Channel 1) and an Arabic-language channel, as well as Kol Israel (Voice of Israel) radio, which airs news and other programming in Hebrew, Arabic, and many other languages. Both Israel Television and Israel Radio are major sources of news and information. The Second Television and Radio Authority, a public body, supervises the two privately owned commercial television channels and 14 privately owned radio stations. In February 2005 the authority prohibited advertisements for the so-called Geneva Accords in which Palestinian public figures told Israelis, among other points, 'You have a partner for a peace agreement.' The authority claimed that its regulations on television commercial ethics prohibited it from airing commercials on 'controversial issues.' A consolidated cable company and one satellite television company carried international networks and programs produced for domestic audiences."

"The law authorizes the government to censor on national security grounds any material reported from the country or the occupied territories regarded as sensitive. An agreement between the government and media representatives provides for military censorship only in cases involving issues that the armed forces believe could likely harm the country's security interests. All media organizations must submit materials covered by the agreement to the censor for approval. This agreement deals with specific military issues as well as strategic infrastructure issues such as oil and water supplies. Media organizations may appeal the censor's decision to the High Court, and they cannot be closed by the military censor for censorship violations. The military censor cannot appeal a court judgment. Foreign journalists must agree to submit sensitive articles and photographs to the military censor. In practice they rarely complied. "

"Following an intensive public debate on the role of the media during wartime, as a consequence of censorship concerning, for example, specific locations of Katyusha rocket strikes, the Israeli Press Council established a Special Committee to Examine Journalistic Ethics and Conduct During War. Its conclusions were scheduled for publication following the final committee meeting on February 2, 2007."

"All journalists operating in the country must be accredited by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO). On September 20, ACRI appealed to the Supreme Court on behalf of a journalist residing in the Golan Heights who alleged that he had been denied a GPO card since 2003 based on political and security considerations."

"News printed or broadcast abroad may be reported without censorship. There were no recent reports that the government fined newspapers for violating censorship regulations."

"The Israeli occupation authorities limited freedom of expression. In East Jerusalem Israeli authorities prohibited display of Palestinian political symbols; displays were punishable by fines or prison, as were public expressions of anti-Israeli sentiment and of support for Islamic extremist groups. Israeli authorities censored press coverage of the Intifada and reviewed Arabic publications for security-related material."

"As a general rule, Israeli media covered the occupied territories, except for combat zones where the IDF temporarily restricted access. The government claimed such restrictions were necessary for journalists' security."

West Bank and Gaza[edit]

United Nations

According to an United Nations press release in 2005:[7]

"Journalists and media officials have the right to safety and security wherever they may be in the world, even in zones of conflict. However reporting on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a difficult and sometimes dangerous undertaking for journalists. According to the International Press Institute (IPI), since September 2000, there have been 562 violations of press freedom in the occupied Palestinian territory. Detention, injuries, restricted access, denial or permits, confiscations of documents and lengthy delays have constituted violations of freedom of the press. The IPI reports that 12 journalists were killed during this period in the line of duty, including 10 Palestinians. At least 478 press freedom violations were carried out by Israeli authorities; the Palestinian authorities were responsible for 30 of the reported press freedom violations. In its 2004 Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index covering 165 countries, Reporters Without Borders placed Israel's performance in the occupied Palestinian territory on rank 115 and the performance of the Palestinian Authority on rank 127."

According to pro-Israel watchdog groups

In its "Palestinian Intimidation of the Press" article, Honest Reporting writes:[8]

"The PA's policies of intimidation, harassment and persecution of the press are standard practices. Reporters won't admit it, but the fear of physical harm or the fear of dying is a powerful motivator. What motivated Italian TV's Ricardo Christiano to congratulate and bless the Palestinian Authority, and then apologize for another Italian broadcaster filming the barbaric lynching of two Israeli reservists in Ramallah? Was it fear? Or was it identification with the PA?"

"Non-partisan sources, such as the U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, Freedom House, and even Palestinian rights groups report that the Palestinian Authority routinely harasses, arrests, beats and tortures journalists who print or report items critical of the Palestinian Authority or Chairman Arafat. They all report on the pervasive phenomenon of journalists' self-censorship."

In its "Reporting Under Repression" article, CAMERA writes:[9]

"As we have noted in the past ( 'Intimidation of Journalists' ), intimidation has also been taking place in the Palestinian Authority. Many Palestinians who were not deemed appropriately 'patriotic' have been brutally murdered as 'collaborators.' PA thugs threatened journalists and photographers with harm during the lynching of the Israeli reservists at the Ramallah police station, as well as during the widespread celebrations going on in the Palestinian territories shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Cameras were smashed, film taken, and warnings given not to provide anything to their editors that would show the Palestinians in a negative light. In September of 2002, Jerusalem Post reporter Khalid Abu Toameh was repeatedly threatened with physical harm by a PA official. Abu Toameh wrote, 'the real danger comes not from the bullets of an M-16 or AK-47 assault rifle. Rather, it comes from attempts by certain elements in the PA to intimidate journalists who are only trying to carry out their jobs in a professional manner...[There are still those in the PA who believe] that a journalist is first to be loyal to the cause...'"

According to pro-Palestinian watchdog groups

The United States 2006 State Department report wrote the following regarding press freedom in the Palestinian territories:[6]

"The PA does not have laws providing for freedom of press; however, the law permits every person the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and expression, and the right to express opinions orally, in writing, or through any other form. However, a 1995 presidential decree included injunctions against writing anything critical of the PA or the president. Although the PA did not restrict freedom of speech or press, members of the ruling Hamas faction restricted freedoms of speech and press."

"Working conditions for journalists in the West Bank and Gaza deteriorated noticeably during the year. Following the January Palestinian legislative elections, tension between the Hamas-led government and the Fatah movement resulted in polarization of the Palestinian press, with reduced press freedom, notably for local-level journalists. Numerous incidents against journalists, particularly those working in Gaza, included assaults, intimidation, and abduction in retaliation for reporting perceived as biased by one faction or the other."

"There were three Palestinian daily and several Palestinian weekly newspapers. There also were several monthly magazines and three tabloids. The PA operated one television station and one radio station. There were approximately 30 independently owned television stations and approximately 25 such radio stations."

"Closures and curfews limited the ability of Palestinian and foreign journalists to do their jobs. Journalists complained of area closures, long waits at the Gaza border crossing, and the government's inadequate transportation provisions."

"During the year IDF soldiers beat journalists on several occasions, detained others, and confiscated their press cards in Bil'in village where there were weekly protests over construction of the separation barrier (see section 1.g.)."

"On May 24, Israeli authorities released Awad Rajoub, a reporter for the Arabic language Web site of Al Jazeera, reportedly after being detained since November 2005; no reason was given for his detention."

"On October 6, IDF officials arrested Reuters cameraman Emad Mohammad Bornat in the West Bank village of Bil'in and detained him for two weeks. Bornat was charged with "attacking an officer"; however, according to Reuters he was subsequently found innocent by an Israeli court."

Journalists in the line of fire[edit]

The United States 2006 State Department report also noted

"There were reports by foreign and Israeli media that the IDF fired upon journalists."

"On July 12, media reported that Ibrahim Atla, a cameraman with Palestinian public television broadcasting, was seriously injured by shrapnel from a tank shell, and two other journalists were also injured."

"On July 19, Al-Hurra reporter Fatin Elwan was struck by two rubber bullets fired by an Israeli soldier while covering the Israeli siege of the presidential compound in Nablus. Reporters Without Borders also noted that three other journalists, including Al-Jazeera television technician Wael Tantous, were injured when Israeli soldiers fired rubber bullets at local reporters covering the event."

"On August 27, according to press reports, Israeli aircraft fired two missiles at an armored Reuters vehicle, wounding five persons, including two cameramen. A spokesman stated the Israeli Air Force did not realize journalists were in the car and attacked because it was being driven in a suspicious manner."

"On November 3, Hamza Al Attar, a cameraman for Palestinian news agency Ramattan, reportedly while wearing an orange vest marked "Press" was shot in the back and critically wounded while filming a protest by Palestinian women in Beit Hanun, Gaza."

"In January 2005 Majdi al-Arabid, a journalist working for Israeli Channel 10 TV in the Gaza Strip, was shot near Bayt Lahia while reporting on IDF operations against Palestinians suspected of firing rockets into Israel. An IDF spokesperson stated soldiers were unaware journalists were in the area and fired only on Palestinian gunmen. The IDF reportedly opened an investigation; however, at year's end there was no information on the status of an investigation."

"In 2003 James Miller, a British national, was killed by the IDF while filming a documentary in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. In April 2005 a disciplinary military court acquitted an IDF officer on charges of illegal use of firearms; subsequently, he was cleared of all charges. On April 6, a coroner's court in London ruled Miller's death was an "unlawful killing." Miller's family urged the British government to seek extradition of the IDF officer who killed him."

"Rising levels of lawlessness in the Gaza Strip subjected journalists to harassment and kidnappings."

"On March 15, three foreign journalists (Caroline Laurent, Alfred Yaghobzadeh, and Yong Tae-young) were taken at the Al-Dira hotel in Gaza by unidentified gunmen. On March 16, according to news reports, all three were released."

"On August 14, unidentified gunmen in the Gaza Strip kidnapped two Fox News journalists. They were released on August 27."

"On October 24, photojournalist Emilio Morenatti of AP was abducted by unidentified Palestinian gunmen in Gaza City; he was later released."

According to non-governmental organizations[edit]

Committee to Protect Journalists

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists's 2007 Attacks on the Press report:[10]

"A bitter power struggle between the Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah left journalists vulnerable to harassment and attack, with the slayings of two local media workers and the abduction of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston underscoring the risk. Journalists covering Israeli military operations in the West Bank and Gaza also had to contend with perennial abuses at the hands of Israeli forces."

Freedom House

Freedom House publishes an annual Map of Press Freedom report on freedom of the press. In 2013, Israel was ranked as "Partly Free".[11] The report described Israel has having "the freest press in the region" but downgraded its status from "Free" to "Partly Free" in response to "the indictment of journalist Uri Blau for possession of state secrets, the first time this law had been used against the press in several decades, as well as instances of politicized interference with the content of Israeli Broadcasting Authority radio programs and concerns surrounding the license renewal of television’s Channel 10".[11]


Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders publishes an annual report on worldwide press freedom, called the Press Freedom Index. The first such publication began in 2002. The results for Israel and the Palestinian Authority from 2002 to the present are shown below, with lower numbers indicating better treatment of reporters:

Year Israel (Israeli territory) Israel (extraterritorial) Palestinian Authority No. of national entities rated Report URL
2002 92 Not Specified 82 139 [12]
2003 44 146 130 166 [13]
2004 36 115 127 167 [14]
2005 47 Not Specified 132 167 [15]
2006 50 135 134 168 [16]
2007 44 103 158 169 [17]
2008 46 149 163 173 [18]
2009 93 150 161 175 [19]
2014 96 Not Specified 138 180 [20]

Print media[edit]

Israel has a large number of dailies, weeklies and periodicals, all privately owned.[21]

English-language periodicals

Hebrew-language periodicals

German-language periodicals:

  • Israel Nachrichten [16] The German-language daily from Tel Aviv for the 100,000 German-speaking Jews in Israel

French-language periodicals:

Arabic-language periodicals

Broadcast media[edit]

Internet[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Recorded Programs". Israel Broadcasting Authority. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Limor, Yehiel. "Media in Israel". Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Media of Israel, Press reference.
  4. ^ a b c Israel Press Freedom, Freedom House.
  5. ^ Israel 2007 report, Reporters Without Borders.
  6. ^ a b Israel and the occupied territories by the U.S. Department of State
  7. ^ Press freedom in the OPT by UNSCO
  8. ^ Palestinian Intimidation of the Press by HonestReporting
  9. ^ Reporting Under Repression by CAMERA
  10. ^ Attacks 2007: Middle East and North Africa: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory by CPJ
  11. ^ a b "Israel - Freedom of the Press 2013". Freedom House. 
  12. ^ 2002 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders
  13. ^ 2003 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders
  14. ^ 2004 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders
  15. ^ 2005 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders
  16. ^ 2006 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders
  17. ^ 2007 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders
  18. ^ Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders
  19. ^ 2009 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders.
  20. ^ 2014 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders.
  21. ^ "Prof. Sam Lehman-Wilzig - Israel". Retrieved 24 January 2014.