Israel has been pinpointed by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
as one of six countries where female journalists face “extreme levels of
violence” while carrying out their professional duties.
In a letter sent
to United Nations General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon to mark the International Day on
the Elimination of Violence against Women, which took place Friday, the IFJ
highlights Mexico, the Philippines, Somalia, Russia, Nepal and Israel as
countries where women journalists face “threats, political pressure, violence,
rape and abuse… either due to their gender or simply for doing their
Social Affairs: Women without a name
While there have been several reports in Israel of female
journalists being harassed and arrests of Palestinian female journalists, in all
of the other five countries mentioned in the letter women journalists have been
actually killed or shot during the course of their work.
year, in an episode that the media dubbed “bra-gate,” a female journalist from
the Al- Jazeera television network was denied entry to a press conference with
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s after refusing to remove her bra for a
A similar incident took place in July when two female
journalists, one from Agence France-Presse, were asked to remove their bra
behind a curtain before it was x-rayed for security reasons.
letter, which was signed by IFJ Secretary-General Beth Costa and Mindy Rin,
chairwoman of the IFJ Gender Council, the organization highlights the recent
arrest by Israel of Al-Quds TV journalist Israa Salhab, but it also calls for
the release of male journalist Raed Rateb al-Sherif from Hebron radio and “all
other journalists that remain in Israeli custody.”
It provides no further
information about Salhab’s detainment.
When highlighting the other
countries that have mistreated female journalists, the letter does not mention
attacks or arrests of male media professionals.
There is also no specific
reference to the treatment of women journalists in Egypt, Libya or Syria during
the current popular uprisings.
Last week, The Jerusalem Report
Mona Eltahawy and film director Jehane Noujaim, both Egyptian- American
nationals, were arrested during a protest in Cairo’s Tahrir
According to media reports, Jehane had been interviewing a
military officer when she was arrested and labeled an Israeli
El-Tahawy, who has been outspoken in recent months against the
military leadership in Egypt, later spoke out on international news channels
saying she had been beaten
and sexually assaulted.
“It is particularly
troubling to note that the majority of these crimes remain unsolved, and
attackers or killers do not face justice,” wrote the IFJ’s Costa and Rin in the
letter to Moon. “The climate of impunity for crimes against female journalists
constitutes a serious threat to the most fundamental of free expression
“On this day, as on all others, we are seriously concerned by the
rising number of sexual assaults, intimidations, death threats and killings that
victimize women journalists on a daily basis,” they wrote.
reach the organization for a comment or further information about why Israel had
been specifically highlighted in the letter were not immediately successful over
The IFJ has more than 600,000 members in some 134 countries
Danny Zaken, Chairman of the National Federation of Israel
Journalists in Jerusalem, which is a member of the IFJ, expressed surprise at
“Over the past two years the IFJ has changed its attitude
toward Israel thanks to our efforts and every statement or action was
coordinated with me,” he told The Jerusalem Post
Saturday night. “Now it seems
the organization went back to its bad old behavior.”
Zaken said that he
immediately sent a letter to IFJ President Jim Boumelha demanding an explanation
why Israel was singled out.
“I have demanded an explanation and I am
waiting for them to respond,” he said, adding, “With all the problems we have in
the Israeli media recently, harassing women journalists is not one of them, not
more then any free country.”