International Journalists Union Expels Israel

Posted: 7/9/2009 11:22:00 AM
Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Source: Thbis article appeared on the Arutz 7 website on July 9, 2009.

International Journalists Union Expels Israel

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
The International Federation of Journalists has expelled the Israeli branch after refusing to allow it to pay the same reduced amount of dues levied on neighboring countries, such as Jordan. Chaim Shibi, an Israeli branch official and veteran Israeli journalist, charged that the action by the international body is the culmination of a long-standing anti-Israeli bias.

The liberal-leaning New York Jewish Forward noted that the expulsion, approved in an unanimous vote by the international union’s executive committee, “raised the specter of another effort by international unions to boycott Israel for political reasons.”

The Federation claims the expulsion is based on Israel’s failure to pay its dues. It argues that its decision has nothing to do with politics or previous Federation charges that Israeli media sacrifices its independence by toeing the line regarding government policies.

“We write against the Prime Minister,” unlike in most Arab countries, Shibi told Israel National News. “We are proud of our journalism in Israel and are not dependent on the government. We are the freest of all the media and we are the ones that the Federation selects to expel?"

The government of Israel was publicly blamed for being too free in allowing liberal media coverage of the Second Lebanon War, Shibi added. “Now they [the Federation] are telling us what is ‘free.’”

The Federation has had an anti-Israeli bias in the Middle East for some time, but the turning point was its condemnation of Israel’s bombing of the Hizbullah-backed Al Manar television station in Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War, according to Shibi. The Federation “refused to understand that Al Manar is not exactly a superb media outlet,” said Shibi.

He explained that the Federation’s anti-Israeli bias also was clear when it sent Arab journalists to investigate the accidental killing of a Gaza-based photographer for Reuters during counterterrorist operations in Gaza. “No one talked with any Israeli journalists,” Shibi pointed out. The Federation told the Israeli branch that its journalists were "irrelevant” because it was able to depend on its Arab members journalists based in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

The Forward quoted Aidan White, general secretary of the international journalist union, as saying that the expulsion was based only on the financial dispute.

“The relationship is getting sour because of politics, not because of money,” Shibi told the newspaper. “When we are expected to automatically pay for anti-Israel campaigns, we don’t see why we should pay for this pleasure.”