Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein instructed the
Government Press Office Thursday to summon the Guardian’s correspondent in
Israel to protest a letter to the editor that Edelstein said encouraged
The letter in the UK newspaper, written by Ted
Honderich of London, criticized Israel for turning down alleged Palestinian
offers revealed by the Guardian last week. He wrote that Israel’s “taking from
the Palestinians” part of what he called “their historic homeland” justified
Palestinian acts of violence.
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“The Palestinians have a moral right to
their terrorism within historic Palestine against neo-Zionism,” Honderich wrote.
“Terrorism, as in this case, can as exactly be self-defence, a freedom struggle,
martyrdom, the conclusion of an argument based on true
Edelstein wrote Guardian
editor Ian Black that he was amazed
that his newspaper would agree to publish a letter that calls for the murder of
innocent civilians. He demanded that Black print an apology and clarification
stating that the newspaper did not condone terrorism in any form and did not
consider it a legitimate tool in a struggle for freedom.
“I expect you to
make clear to your readers that you believe that terrorism is a violent and
despicable act, directed mainly toward innocent civilians with the intent to
strike fear and anxiety in a society,” Edelstein wrote. “Certainly this was the
goal of those who employed terrorism in the London bombing of July
Edelstein wrote that he had instructed GPO head Oren Helman to
“urgently summon” Guardian
correspondent Harriet Sherwood to discuss the
However, Sherwood could not be reached, because she is currently
reporting in Egypt.
Meanwhile, former GPO head Danny Seaman began his new
job this week as deputy director-general of Edelstein’s ministry.
who won his new post via a public tender, now technically has authority over the
GPO, which he headed for 10 years before losing a tender for the post to
A former government official with 25 years of experience in
Israel’s public diplomacy said, “It’s good to have someone there who will speak
truth to power, and we all know how much power the media has.
great experience in the hasbara [public diplomacy] world, but now he is in a
position that could allow him to speak his mind and tell it like it
Foreign Press Association head Josef Federman, who is the news
editor at The Associated Press’s Jerusalem bureau, was diplomatic about the
“We know Danny, we worked with him for many years, and we
wish him well,” he said.
But another member of the foreign press, who
chose not to be identified, said that Seaman had proven to be too aggressive,
too nationalistic and too rightwing in the past, and that he hoped he would not
use his new post to interfere with the work of the media.
In a recent
interview with Jerusalem Post
editor David Horovitz, Seaman complained that some
in the foreign press were unconscionably ignorant, disinclined to appreciate
fundamental truths about Israel’s best features, incompetent and sometimes
“Ever since the enemies of Israel understood that it
could not be defeated militarily, because of its strength, their goal has been
denying us the right to use that strength,” he said. “And here, unfortunately,
the media sometimes are politically cooperating with this, and other times are
being duped into it. They don’t understand that they are being used by those
elements who are abusing freedom of the press, abusing freedom of speech,
abusing all these civil rights in Western society.”