Israel’s Government Press Office (GPO) on Thursday issued a press release celebrating the total capitulating of senior Al-Jazeera journalist Elias Karam, who bragged in a May 2016 interview with the Muslim Brotherhood television channel Dar al-Iman that “as a Palestinian journalist in an occupied area or in a conflict zone, media work is an integral part of the resistance and its educational political activity. The journalist fulfills his role in the opposition with the pen, voice or camera because he is part of this people and he carries out resistance in his unique way.”
The consequence of that braggadocio was that GPO Director Nitzan Chen decided to revoke Karam’s GPO credentials, relegating the Israeli journalist to the unemployment line. This tough love approach was part of a new approach by the new Communications Minister Ayoob Kara, whose Druse ancestry has prepared him well to deal with Arab media shenanigans (incidentally, we’ve long supported a law mandating that Israel’s Defense Minister must be a Druze).
Turns out the message was received—largely because it was not obfuscated. And so, in a hearing held on August 21 at the GPO in Jerusalem, Karam swore that, contrary to what may have been implied in that television interview, he does not see himself as part of the “Palestinian resistance” against the State of Israel.
As a result, it was decided to defer the suspension of his GPO card for six months, during which his press reports will be monitored.
If only Israeli public officials used the same tough love approach in all their dealings with the Arabs of the Land of Israel, peace would have been realized years ago.
And so, in the best tradition of the Lubyanka prison confessions, citizen Elias Karam willingly clarified his statements thus:
• In an interview with the Muslim Brotherhood television station, Dar al-Iman, he was asked about Palestinian journalists in general and not about himself. Therefore, what he said about journalism in the service of the resistance does not apply to him, since he is not a correspondent in “the territories” and 90% of his work is carried out in the State of Israel.
• He had no intention of supporting or expressing sympathy for armed resistance. The “resistance” he spoke of was not violent, but rather through the pen, the word and the camera. According to him, “the resistance means only media exposure to the reality of the Palestinian people living under occupation. I did not adopt, call for or incite to resistance of any kind.”
• In his professional work as a news reporter, he testifies to have adopted a “golden rule,” according to which “one should not mix opinion with reporting,” and thus he conducts himself as a journalist. He also stressed that he does not see his role as a journalist in taking any position, either for or against one resistance or another, and advocates “completely objective reporting, presenting reality as it is without interfering in it or without being part of it or influencing it.”
GPO Director Nitzan Chen said in a statement: “Freedom of the press is one of the cornerstones of the Government Press Office, but we will not accept a situation in which an official certification issued by the State of Israel will serve as a tool for those who exploit it for public struggle against the country. Unfortunately, there have been reports lately, on Al Jazeera television network, which do not meet factual, public and professional standards.
“In the coming months, the GPO will monitor the network’s reports in Israel, in Arabic and in English, and will not hesitate, after consultation with legal and security agencies, to draw necessary conclusions.”
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