journalists gaza 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
The non-governmental body that assists foreign
correspondents in Israel said on Thursday it is not sure how a proposal
to require a US-style journalist visa for reporters will affect its
members, and denied Government Press Office assertions that journalists
based in Israel are faking credentials in order to work for political
NGOs operating in the Palestinian Authority.
Foreign Press Association official said the people it works with are
journalists and not activists, and their job is to report on what they
see, not volunteer for foreign advocacy groups. No self-respecting
journalist would lie about his credentials in order to enter Israel and
work as a political activist under the guise of being a journalist, she
The official said the organization was not overly concerned by
the visa initiative, and that it would have to wait to see what the
government demanded from journalists before it could assess the effect
on their work.
She added that foreign journalists in Israel are already used
to waiting a great deal of time, often more than six months, to get
their work visas renewed and often have difficulty navigating
government bureaucracy. Such delays often leave many journalists with
no choice but to leave the country and return every so often in order
to renew their visas, the official said. The Jerusalem Post
reported on Thursday that
the GPO's proposal is based on concern that foreign activists at
anti-Israel NGOs are claiming they work as journalists in order to
circumvent immigration authorities.
To receive a journalist visa to the US, applicants must prove
they work for a media organization whose base of operations is outside
of the US.
head of the NGO Monitor organization said that although he wasn't
familiar with activists posing as journalists in order to enter Israel,
the proposed regulations would be consistent with government efforts to
hinder the efforts of "quasi-journalistic organizations who are engaged
in political propaganda."
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor
and a professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat
Gan, added that a number of reporters entering Israel under no false
pretenses are "waging political warfare against Israel" and using their
role as journalists "to be a mouthpiece for Palestinian issues."
Often with such journalists, "the line between journalism and propaganda becomes blurry," he said.
Steinberg mentioned the case of Jared Malsin, the
English-language editor for the Palestinian news agency Ma'an, who was
detained at Ben-Gurion Airport after returning from a holiday abroad
and spent a week in a detention cell at the airport before returning to
the United States this week. He had refused to say who he shared an
His questioners reportedly recommended not allowing Malsin to
reenter Israel, noting his critical reporting on Israeli policies in
the West Bank.