The Journalists' Association of Jerusalem (JAJ) on Wednesday called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cease his purported campaign of incitement against Israel's press and individual journalists.
"As the [nation's] economic rating forecast lowers," stated JAJ chairpersons Ofra Satat Milo and Mickey Klein, "we are witnessing the lowering of Israel's [degree] of freedom of the press. Things are pointing to...a clear and immediate danger to Israeli democracy."
Reporters Without Borders (RWB) ranked Israel 97th out of 150 countries whose press freedom was examined. This is a significant drop from 2022, when Israel ranked 88th.
The JAJ pointed out in its statement that Israel has seen an uptick in journalists being physically attacked, particularly in the context of protests against or in favor of the judicial reform.
A glass bottle was thrown toward the Channel 13 reporters in late April while they were covering the protest in favor of the judicial reform in Jerusalem.
"The government is undermining the foundations of democracy," said JAJ heads.
"Politicians have a great deal of influence over appointments to the broadcasting regulators," wrote Reporters Without Borders in its expanded assessment of Israel's 2023 media landscape. "Netanyahu, who has enjoyed Israel Hayom’s unfailing support for more than a decade, is accused in corruption cases of trying to influence the editorial policies of several media outlets in exchange for political favors."
RWB also touched on Israel's military censorship policies, explaining that coverage of security issues often needs censor approval before being published. "There is a freedom of information law," wrote RWB, "but it is sometimes hard to implement."
The fate of Israel's public broadcasting service
Israel's Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi expressed intentions to cut Israel's public broadcasting budget in January, sparking panic.
"There is no place for public broadcasting in the State of Israel," Karhi said. "There will be the removal of barriers and the opening of the market to competition. The corporation's budget will be reduced by hundreds of millions already in the upcoming Arrangements Law."
Golan Yochpaz, CEO of the Israeli Broadcasting Authority, addressed Karhi's threat, writing on his Twitter page that "a cut of hundreds of millions from the corporation's budget means one thing - the closure of the Public Broadcasting Corporation, which in Israel and around the world has become a symbol of real Israeli quality and creativity. The corporation, as an independent broadcaster, will resolutely continue its activities and action, despite the threats to its very existence."