Guardian’s Roy Greenslade invents a ‘freedom of the press’ bogeyman

Also appearing on the ‘Israel’ page of the Guardian’s ‘World News’ section, a September 4th post on Roy Greenslade’s media blog, headlined ” Israeli judge to reporter – state security matters more than press freedom” goes on to declare that:

“An Israeli court has ruled that state security is more important than freedom of the press and the public’s right to know”.

Sounds awful, doesn’t it? Most readers would immediately conjure up images of far-away dark regimes in which valiant journalists selflessly battle overpowering government repression in order to bring the truth to light for the sake of an uninformed and oppressed public. 

That may be what Roy Greenslade believes, and it certainly would not be the first time he has gone down similar routes. It may even be what he would like his readers to believe – which could explain his somewhat selective (to say the least) reporting of the Uri Blau case in general and his sentencing in particular. 

So let’s take a look at what the judge really said, according to sources in the language in which he actually said it. 

The Israeli website Walla! reports as follows: (emphasis added)

“The Magistrates Court in Tel Aviv today (Monday) gave a sentence of four months of community service to “Ha’aretz” journalist Uri Blau, who pleaded guilty and was convicted in July within the framework of a plea bargain of holding classified information, after he received around 1,800 classified documents, which were copied by Anat Kam, whilst she was a soldier in the office of the Major General of Central Command.”(…..)

” “The security of a country [depends upon] its ability to protect its military secrets” wrote the Judge Ido Druiyan in the verdict. “The exposure of such secrets exposes the country to the schemes of its enemies, on the way revealing strong and weak points, military and other plans, and negates the potential of surprise in the case of a pre-planned attack where that is necessary”. The judge agreed with the definition of the prosecution that the documents which Blau circulated were a ticking bomb, even if they were not held with the intention of harming state security: “How easy it is to hack into a computer, steal and make copies of such material”. “

“In the verdict the Judge also addressed [the subject of] the importance of investigative journalism and wrote: “If we compare state security with the freedom of the press and the right of the public to know as absolute values, the value of state security will be greater if only for the simple reason that without the safe existence of the state and its citizens, the press and the public will also not exist”. Together with that, he explained that the court balances between the values and stressed that the material with which Blau dealt is of the highest public importance. “The enormous importance of the security systems and the character of their activity affords in Israel a special urgency and importance to their being the active subject of lively public and political debate”. He also wrote that “The free activity of investigative journalism is among the bases of democracy because without real information the public is exposed to the destructive harm of wild demagoguery, malicious lies and deliberate concealment“. “

“Judge Druiyan added that “The state recognizes the special standing of the journalist and is prepared to tolerate the gap between precise enforcement of the law and between the restraint dictated by the recognition in this country of investigative journalism. That gap is the breathing space of the democracy“. ” (….)

The Walla! article further reminds us that: 

“Blau published at the time articles on targeted assassinations which were carried out in the territories, and were based on the documents he received from Kam. After the publication of the articles, he signed an agreement with the General Security services, within the framework of which he passed over to the security services 50 documents, and his computer was destroyed. After the arrest of Kam, it became clear that he held hundreds of additional documents, some classified as secret and top-secret. With the breaking of the Kam affair, he left the country for a number of months and upon his return was questioned. “

“The prosecutor in the trial, Lawyer Dassi Forer of the Tel Aviv District Advocacy, said at the stage of arguments for sentencing that her decision to present an indictment came about after much deliberation, because of the importance of free media.”

So, as we see yet again (if we are feeling charitable), a Guardian writer’s prejudices and pre-conceived opinions regarding Israel in general and its judicial system in particular – coupled with a lack of serious research – prevent that newspaper from presenting to its readers a fair and balanced account of events. 

Were one in a less generous mood, one might alternatively raise questions regarding the professor of journalism Roy Greenslade’s own commitment  to the public’s “right to know” the whole story, rather than just cherry-picked items selected to advance an agenda. 

51 replies »

  1. Its interesting to see the Guardian’s constant concern about freedom of the press in Israel.

    It would be more interesting if we saw an even greater concern for the same thing in Arab countries.

    But, I suppose, where this is no freedom of the press there is nothing for them to be concerned about.

    • going by the new shopping malls and well stocked supermarkets in aza i doubt food is an issue. what about the three year late elections? any news? or did hamas pull an enabling act on us?

      • Its amazing that no matter how much is published about the extraordinary levels of wealth and luxury in Gaza, it seems to simply pass the Avram’s of the world by.

        Media like the Guardian use and reuse that picture of the one destroyed house near Rafah and somehow overlook the luxury hotels, the malls, the fancy homes, the expensive cars, the millionaires living there, etc.

        Articles like this from the Economist are simply dismissed.

        The Gaza Strip
        A building boom
        Gaza may be set for a dramatic revival

        “We’re building cities,” says a delighted UN engineer, putting the finishing touches to “Saudi City”, a public housing estate replete with garages, tiled bathrooms and dishwashers that cost its Saudi sponsors $120m. Built on land where Israel first settled Jews after its 1967 conquest and then removed them in 2005, it is set to open its doors to 11,000 residents in the next few months. Under the baton of the Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas, thousands more homes, hundreds of schools and half a dozen hospitals are sprouting. Circumventing Israeli and Egyptian restrictions above ground, Gaza’s tunnel complex under the border with Egypt is also facilitating a private construction boom, consisting of around 550 tower blocks.

        “800 millionaires and 1,600 near-millionaires control the tunnels at the expense of both Egyptian and Palestinian national interests,” fumed the Western-backed Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.

        • Whilst most find your bilge to be entertaining, I have nothing but contempt for those who would so cheerfully attempt to trivialise the suffering of fellow human beings.

          The Nazis used propaganda to show the “luxury” of the Warsaw ghetto. You judge the suffering of the 99% by the privilege of the 1%. Try reading ICRC reports about humanitarian conditions that the 99% live under.

          Einstein was right. Nationalism is an infantile disease.

          I think it’s fair to say that you disgust me.

          • Once again the con misuses the fate of the Jews murdered by the Nazis for diffaming Jews.
            Get this brownie off.

            • Avram Meitner’s latest tweet:

              “OK, so I get it now. DNC votes “no” to the crazy pro-Israel language, but is overruled by the Israel lobby. #OnlyInAmerica 24 minutes ago”

              Avram ‘gets it now’ Israel controls the white house.

              • Come on, it’s pretty funny. They have several voice votes, all with resounding “no” votes, after a few worried looks, the motion is passed regardless.

                Democracy in action.

                Pure gold for satirical cartoonists.

                • Of course you left out the even more resounding “yes” votes. One expects this from you, obscurantist liar that you are. But, I’ll give you this; the “no” votes were far louder than the Democratic leadership would have liked in a far from full hall. The Arab lobby and their “activist” left wing apologists were out in full force; a fringe providing a seam into which poison has seeped. It’s nowheres close to a majority, but it is a dilemma for a party leadership that believes in supporting the Jewish State, as well as their own bona fides as a liberal party. Unlike you (and the “faith-based” minority in the hall), they know that real world problems cannot be solved through anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

          • “attempt to trivialise the suffering of fellow human beings.”
            That’s a bit rich. They voted for Hamas which has violence written in its charter. Isn’t there a pro business party platform in Aza? Oh sorry, I forgot, it was a one-election-only deal. In accordance with the caliphate idea.
            Oh well live and learn, and die.

        • On the other hand the islamofacists could disarm , stop the violence and all borders would open to all trade. But just like say the RIRA, violence creates its own self serving dynamic of those with small penisis and can no longer be stopped. But as long as Iran is paying the facists bills in Aza and Sinai ( see Morsis last speech in regards to foreign involvement in Egypt ) there will be no peace. But Hamas are two faced thugs like Greenslade here. So the islamist humanism charade will go on. And Aza kids will be brought up as canon fodder for the caliphate.

      • If the Government of Israel did write up a note specifying the minimum caloric intake required to sustain life in Gaza, it’s going to be an ugly scandal. No wonder the Netanyahu administration is in panic mode.

  2. [OT] – Can any Americans here explain how this vote at the DNC about Jerusalem works? I’m not getting it.

    • “I’m not getting it”
      you said it first. And it’s not the only thing you’re not getting judging by your blog Avram Meitner and your nazi Flickr photo stream.

    • You don’t get it Avram? But you must have learned a long time ago at your “Kill the Jews 101” course that we rule the US … The Democratic Party is only a small part of it….

    • What part is hard for you to get, Avram? The Dumbocratic Party, showing their and Obama’s true attitude toward, Israel, attempted to insert a plank into their platform delegitimizing Israel’s capital city Jerusalem.
      Are you aware of any other country in the world which isn’t allowed to choose its own capital? I hear there are still some Iroquois Indians unhappy that they don’t own the land in D.C. area anymore–so perhaps we should have international determination of what the U.S.’ capital city now is.
      You moron.

      • Hey Al- are you aware of another country in the world that is allowed to choose to use land outside its own borders for its capital??

          • We’re shifting ours from Dublin to Rome. Only fair. After all, are you aware of any other country in the world which isn’t allowed to choose its own capital?

            Sorry, just poking fun at Al’s brain dead comments about Israel being allowed to annex Palestinian land as its capital.

      • I have never heard of another country trying to chose a capital outside its own Territory as the Government of Israel does.

        While West Jerusalem is located in Israel, East Jerusalem is not.

        The irony is that apart from settlers, Israeli citizens never set foot in East Jerusalem anyway (with the exception of the Hebrew University campus, which has specific status).

        Try to get a pizza delivered to East Jerusalem by a pizza joint in West Jerusalem: they will refuse. Same with West Jerusalem furniture shops – they do not deliver in East Jerusalem.

        • This old “pizza delivery” nugget again. 10 years ago, if you had asked a pizza firm in Protestant Belfast to make a delivery in the Catholic areas, you’d have been refused too. IT IS NOT SAFE for an Israeli pizza delivery guy to putter into Arab neighbourhoods of “East” Jerusalem. Are you asking these guys to put their lives at risk so you can have a pizza?

          “Apart from settlers, Israeli citizens never set foot in East Jeruslam…” What a joke. We have had this argument before. According to your precious “international law” the Old City of Jerusalem is “East Jerusalem” and not part of Israel. To argue that Israeli citizens never set foot in the Old City is the most ridiculous statement and shows you have no connection to reality.

          In any case, are “settlers” not human beings? Or are they, in your apartheid mentality, sub-humans, not worthy of counting amongst humanity.

  3. Professor of Hamas friendly, Islamist, doctored, biased and “anti-Israeli” journalism, more like. No wonder “journalism” at BBC/Guardian reflects this man’s teachings.

  4. Excellent article which explains Israeli freedom of speech in a nut shell.

    How far is Israel from its neighbours and the Palestinian institutions.

    • “How far is Israel from its neighbours and the Palestinian institutions.”

      That’s why there can never be peace, and why so many Israeli citizens hang on to their Western passports.

      • What could possibly be worth imitating in Syria ? Lebanon ? Jordan? Egypt? Tomato salad!
        Regarding the passport question, having two or more passports is usually considered very useful for open minded cosmopolitan people. But I dig that many Arabs love queuing for visas and having a passport that takes you know where. Kinda goes hand in hand with the rest.

  5. Kam, Blau, Bradling, Assange all are heading for the well deserved slammer.
    My dream is that Assange ends up doing four to six with a six foot nine Swedish lumber jack who has an IQ of say 75. This forest worker will have overwhelming upper arm strength and be well hung. He will have his way with Assange a few nights a week. When Assange’s time is up he will be deported to the USA, and spend the rest of his life at Supermax in CO .

  6. Greenslade is a professor of ‘journalism’ (?!) – I truly find that shocking. Probably he is specialised in the field of ‘churning out copy for biased propagandist outlets’.

    • This explains why newspapers in the UK are going under. There used to be a time when journalists attempted to keep the bias at bay. No longer. And if you feel that your point isn’t getting across, Al Jazeera will give you a job.

      • I think this is really just a back door attempt at smearing the judiciary over the Corrie suit. I’d expect more smears.

  7. Greenslade is just a pathetic self-hating sack of shit, regularly playing up to the worst instincts of the rabibly antiSemitic racists @ the Guardian, hoping against hope they will approve of him and thereby drag up his poor self-esteem.
    Disgusting lies and dishonesty.