The National Federation of Israeli Journalists may sever ties with the
International Federation of Journalists after several incidents suggest that the
Jewish state has been singled out unfairly for criticism.
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.”
chairman of the Journalists Association in Jerusalem, responded in a letter sent
Sunday: “I demand answers for the outrageous false paper the IFJ issued about
violence toward women journalists in Israel.
“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.”
Zaken told The
on Monday that over the past few months – after repeated requests
to validate particular accusations – IFJ President Jim Boumelha highlighted
other areas of gender inequality and violence here in lieu of hard evidence to
suggest that female journalists are particularly targeted.
“We want to
receive a full apology from them and to see a more professional approach in the
way they act towards us in the future,” Zaken said. If no apology is
forthcoming, the Israeli federation will waive its membership fees due next
month and end its cooperation with the IFJ, he said.
“Of course we will
hold a vote on the matter, but if there is no apology and this approach does not
change, then we will be left with no choice but to cease our connection to the
IFJ,” he said.
The Tel Aviv Journalist Association decided more than a
year ago to end its relationship with the international body, but the Jerusalem
branch continued its membership on behalf of the National Federation of Israeli
Zaken said that several other countries have broken ties
with the IFJ in recent years, including journalists’ unions in the US and
Contacted on Monday, Boumelha declined to comment on the
Israeli federations’ threats to leave the organization. He also turned down
requests to furnish further information on Israel’s alleged mistreatment of
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.
However, in communication
with Zaken immediately following the letter to Ban, Boumelha insisted that all
the organization’s information “has been meticulously researched and I would
like to allay your concern that Israel may have been singled out.” He went on to
discuss various media reports from the past few years highlighting domestic
violence and the trafficking of women into Israel, but never once mentioned
attacks against women journalists here.
The International Federation of
Journalists is the world’s largest organization of journalists, according to
information on its website. First established in 1926, today it
represents around 600,000 members in more than 100 countries.
promotes international action to defend press freedom and social justice through
strong, free and independent trade unions of journalists,” the organization
writes on its site. “The IFJ does not subscribe to any given political
viewpoint, but promotes human rights, democracy and pluralism.”
said that while the IFJ is useful in supporting journalists who find themselves
in trouble worldwide, there are other global organizations, such as the
International Press Institute, which would suffice as an alternative.
of 2011, the National Federation of Israeli Journalists in both Tel Aviv and
Jerusalem counted 600 full members and 359 associate members.