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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Israel's New 'Censorship' Demand to Media

UPDATE #4 Sunday  NYT today casually mentions one specific thing axed by Israeli censors in wake of soldier's alleged capture, concerning connection to country's defense chief:  "Lieutenant Goldin is a relative of Mr. Yaalon’s: Mr. Yaalon’s grandfather and Lieutenant Goldin’s grandmother were brother and sister. Mr. Yaalon also lectured at Lieutenant Goldin’s school. Israel’s military censor had blocked publication of that detail of their family relationship until the death was announced on Sunday, concerned that Hamas might profit from that knowledge and demand a higher price for the officer’s return."  Of course, such a detail would have also informed NYT readers about one reason for Israel's fury--which resulted in over 200 deaths.  That detail was published widely by mainstream media elsewhere.

Israel at that time already suspected soldier might have been killed, not captured, as it was testing remains for DNA.  Yet they stated flatly--and NYT focused on this--that soldier captured, not killed. Also, see my analysis today of confusing official (for now) Israeli account of how Goldin died. 

My daily live-blog on this tragedy here

UPDATE #3 Saturday  Well, interesting angle on this now, with Israel confirming that soldier is dead.  This is something they must have suspected from the start--since they found bloody uniform and enough remains that it tested--and, after all, the whole tale of capture came from IDF with no other sources (which NYT bought).  So Israelis had strong reason to control coverage--and NYT dutifully went along with it.  At the minimum, Israel should have said unsure if dead or captured and NYT should have covered from beginning with more skepticism, due to ramifications (and journalistic principles).

UPDATE #2  NYT publishes first story since the "censorship" order and complies by reading section of it over the phone to Israel official.   No need--the story is straight stenography anyway from the two reporters in Jerusalem.  The Times' public editor, just hours before, had written, "the very idea of censorship or gag orders by a foreign government is a disturbing one, not only for journalists but for all who value the free flow of information. It’s heartening to hear that The Times has not submitted any articles for review, and I hope that that will remain the case as this situation develops."

In fact, the Times' international ed had just declared,  "we are not submitting NYT articles for prior review by Israeli censors."  Whoops.

Note complete acceptance of story from IDF, including timeline.  And more. Count all the absurdities in this one line:  "Israel sent text messages to area residents to remain in their homes as forces rushed farther into Rafah, bombarding it from the ground and air to block the captors’ escape."  

UPDATE #1   NYT spokeswoman says they'll go along with it, telling Huff Post: “We adhere to the laws of the countries in which we report, including this one.   We aren't going into details beyond that at the moment.”  You have to wonder: If media hadn't gone along with similar blackout after the three Israeli teens were kidnapped back in June--setting this tragedy in motion--would they have uncovered evidence, only lately emerging, that Hamas may not have been involved, thus short-circuiting crisis?

I still haven't see any other media outlet mention the above.  See AP story from just minutes ago.  And Wash Post story.  Was NYT singled out for this (despite very favorable coverage from Jerusalem bureau in past?) because of its importance?  Or did compliant Times reporters just mention it as explanation to the Israelis that this story had already appeared before the censorship demand?

Earlier:  Important note on "censorship notification" in just-revised NYT article on end of ceasefire in Gaza and Israel.
After the initial publication of this article, the military’s censor informed The New York Times that further information related to the apparently abducted soldier would have to be submitted for prior review. Journalists for foreign news organizations must agree in writing to the military censorship system to work in Israel. This was the first censorship notification The Times had received in more than two years.
Note that the Times has been criticized in the past for agreeing to what they call "gag orders," including by its public editor, when it revealed that it had buckled under to Israeli censorship in the past.  Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren defended that when it was exposed.  "The Times is 'indeed, bound by gag orders,' Ms. Rudoren said. She said that the situation is analogous to abiding by traffic rules or any other laws of the land."


Nell said...

Please, Greg; not "abduction" but capture. If a Hamas fighter were taken by IDF on Israeli territory, no one including Hamas would call it a "kidnaping" or "abduction".

Your writing has been invaluable and excellent over the last three weeks. Please make this correction.

Rodolfo said...

Dear Nell, Greg didn't write it himself, he was quoting the NYT. By the way, the text was changed when I accessed the link and now it stands as: "After the initial publication of this article, the military’s censor informed The New York Times that further information related to the soldier would have to be submitted for prior review (...)". No more "abduction" wording.

Nell said...

Thank you, Greg, for the change in the post title.

@Rodolfo: that's what I was asking to change; NYT can use whatever propaganda terms it wants, but rest of us are not obliged to go along unless explicitly quoting them (as in body of post). Thanks for report of the changed article.

Rodolfo said...

Totally agree, Nell.

Anonymous said...

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x p e c t(0rat)e d
0f jus'such
Y e l l o w jj in kkkeeping
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0nly ®otschild®ag
0f ® e c o r d . . . ® P M

. . . rep.rep etc.etc inter alia & et al


Anonymous said...

Remember Judith Miller and the WMD in Iraq? I can't trust the NYT after that episode... Before that, I always thought they were the "best paper."

m said...

Interestingly, the information about the soldier's relation to the defense minister was Tweeted on August 1: https://twitter.com/Channel4News/status/495188259035955200
I picked it up that day on a retweet from Phil MacGiollabhain:
I'm guessing Hamas might have had that information as well.

Anonymous said...

"Contrary to initial reports, the militant who fired at the Israeli forces did not detonate an explosive belt, but several other militants open massive fire at the soldiers which wounded the three. One militant, whose body was found in the area, was wearing an IDF uniform. The defense establishment has no conclusive information as to the militants' whereabouts, and whether they're alive or not." (Gili Cohen)

Nell said...

Richard Silverstein's account (www.richardsilverstein.com) is worth reading; he is reliably informative on Israeli military moves. It seems more likely than not that the IDF had Goldin's body at the time that they flatly lied that he was "kidnaped" (captured), using the incident both for diplomatic PR in which the US and UN played their assigned roles to shriek at Hamas and as an excuse to completely level Khuza'a and much of Rafah.