Opening the floodgates of information

What and who stand behind this sudden flow of information regarding the alleged aerial attack in Syria?

September 17, 2007 03:53
1 minute read.
Opening the floodgates of information

world newspapers 298.88. (photo credit: AP [file])

The recent days' flood of reports about Israel's reasons for its alleged aerial attack in Syria, in stark contrast to the silence that followed the incident, raises the question of what and who stand behind this sudden flow of information. Years ago, Israeli censorship forbade local communications media from publishing information about security issues and even news stories as seemingly mundane as immigration, for example. However, the age of fast and accessible information has changed the rules of the game. Israeli journalists are no longer content to let their hottest stories be blocked, resorting to professional tricks such as leaking to foreign correspondents that publish the "forbidden," allowing the Israelis to then quote them as sources. Moshe Negbi, legal commentator at Israel Radio and a lecturer on legal issues in the media at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told The Jerusalem Post that when security news makes it to the press, there is almost always someone with an interest in its publication. "For the first few days after the incident, Israel didn't want the world to know what its air force allegedly did in Syria and the secret was successfully kept, a fact that teaches us that censorship can still be effective and serve the country's purposes. Without being able to prove it, I assume that most of the recent publications that are coming out now find their way out only because someone wants that to happen," Negbi said. Additionally, Nachman Shai a former IDF spokesman and currently the UJC's senior vice president and director-general of its Israel branch told the Post he believed that in an incident such as this, involving allied countries such as the US and Turkey, foreign communications media as CNN and The Washington Post are being fed from their own sources. Prof. Yoram Peri, head of the Herzog Institute for Communication, Society and Politics and the Head of Tel Aviv University's School for Communication and Media, agreed that the secrecy policy served the Israeli government's goals. "The secrecy policy serves a political function. Israel probably thought that this might help avoid pushing Syria into the corner, without humiliating them at the same time. Peri lauded the uncharacteristic restraint in the Israeli press over the issue. "We can't ignore that the media here have become more demanding, willing to publish things that weren't published years ago. This politically sensitive event required a different kind of coverage - and it received it."

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