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The Stupid Anat Kamm Gag Order

Yossi Melman explains why he couldn’t report the facts

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TEL AVIV—Was I a chicken? Should I have published the story once I learned of it more than three months ago? Could I have continued to obey a judge’s gag order when I had a no less fundamental duty to the freedom of the press and the public’s right to know? I have been torn between the requirements of the law and the dictates of my conscience.

I knew the details of the case of Anat Kamm, the young journalist under house arrest on charges of serious espionage (in other democracies, she may have been praised as a whistle-blower). But I was blocked from reporting on it because a court issued a non-disclosure order at the request of Israel’s attorney general, who is representing the Israeli Army and the Shin Bet, or General Security Service. The situation, though, became so absurd this week that I could no longer remain totally silent. Additionally, Israeli authorities partially lifted the gag order today.

Only the mainstream newspaper, radio, and television media in Israel remained silent. I can understand why, and it isn’t because they want to shut up. Anyone who published on it would be liable to charges of contempt of court, or worse. We would undermine the principle of obeying the law and might even be accused of lending a hand to illegal activity. That could deal a blow to the prestige and credibility of us in the media.

Left with little choice, my paper, Haaretz, and Israel’s Channel 10 filed court appeals, a month ago, to lift the gag order. But judges in Israel are never in a rush. Once an issue gets to a court, time tends to stand still.

Some international media outlets are confused. They attribute the restriction and blackout to the military censorship which operates in Israel. They are wrong. This time it has nothing to do with the censorship, which falls under a department in the Ministry of Defense. Instead, the gag order is only because of a court decision.

Here’s a basic primer, which I present as a veteran of legal battles against Israel’s defense establishment. As a matter of routine, the arrest, the charges, and the eventual trial are subject to a non-publication order that courts grant at the request of Shin Bet investigators, the army’s field security unit, ordinary Israeli police, or prosecutors. For example, I once tried to publish stories about Israeli intelligence operations on Israeli arms dealers, some of whom were corrupt and operating in India and Singapore, but my stories were suppressed. I also found my stories blocked by unreasonable judges, like the one we are facing now. To take another instance: for three years starting in 2003, I tried to publish the true story of how Elhanan Tenenboim, a corrupt and fraudulent Israeli colonel, was lured to the Gulf Emirates under the guise of a lucrative drug deal, only to be kidnapped by Hezbollah agents, taken to Lebanon, and held there for three years. Time and again, the courts issued gag orders, preventing the Israeli public from knowing the true nature of the case. In result, the government was able to make an immoral decision to swap him in return for Palestinian and Arab terrorists without being challenged by the public.

The reasons officials give for issuing gag orders are unwaveringly identical: Anything that gets published would interfere with the investigation, they claim. After the probe is complete, they give another reason: Israel’s security. For these self-regarded defenders of the realm, every case—however marginal—that touches upon secrets and national defense has the potential to harm Israel’s security.

Even more worrying is the Pavlovian reaction of many Israeli judges. It may be understandable that Shin Bet agents, army field security, or the police might want to get some measure of revenge on a perceived leaker or traitor. One might even see that as the mandate of their jobs. But the fact that most judges grant every security request, without question or reflection, should worry all freedom lovers and all who believe in the most basic democratic values.

And yet, there is no bad without some good. Even a shameful and ridiculous sequence of events such as this case can lead to some realizations. The fragmentary and then, more recently, fairly complete appearance of the story outside of Israel, on the Internet and in the blogosphere, makes a mockery of the defense apparatus, prosecutors, and the courts themselves. The Internet, in particular, has proved itself as a truly democratic—even subversive—alternative to news that is censored by official fiat.

Israelis, who otherwise would respect their nation and its institutions, are increasingly defying the defense authorities’ wishes. Obeying the calls of their consciences, they are publishing what they believe should be published by sending details into cyberspace and thus around the globe.

This case of the female soldier is not adding any points to Israel’s desired image as a bastion of liberty in the Middle East. Instead, the nation looks like one that limits freedom of expression and harasses the press.

There is, in this affair, an important message to the honorable gentlemen and ladies in Israel’s Ministry of Justice and Defense: Image and good name also contribute to the security and prosperity of Israel, no less than the Shin Bet and army field security do.


The Source
[Tablet Magazine]
Israel Lifts Gag Order in Espionage Case [NYT]

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According to various reports, Haaretz reporter Blau has been filing stories from London and has many more secret documents than he admitted to. Kamm copied the documents onto DVD and then passed them on (and maybe there is more to come). Certainly, she appears to have betrayed her duty as a soldier (whether out of political motives or simple self-centeredness remains to be seen), and Blau has lied to investigators and is now abroad avoiding helping the courts and more importantly his nation.

Zach says:

I’d be interested to here which democracies would praise Anat Kamm as a whistle-blower. “[S]he had stolen copies of secret documents during her military service at the office of the head of the IDF’s Central Command. Sometime later she gave Blau some of the documents, which she had been holding for 18 months.” I’m not aware of many democracies in which such illegal activity would be “praised.” Of course there are legal means to blow the whistle on illegal government conduct. Given the constant stream of public corruption investigations of Israeli political figures, it appears the Israeli justice establishment would have been more than happy to hear of what Kamm learned, insofar as the information was provided confidentially, and thus legally.

Zach says:

Additionally, according to the Shin Bet, “[t]he documents contained top secret information concerning General Staff orders, personnel numbers in the Central Command, intelligence information, information on the IDF doctrine and data pertaining to central sensitive military exercises, weaponry and military platforms. The files also contained details on what the Central Command does in the event of a major escalation – how it deploys forces to the West Bank and where it stations them there.” It would be quite curious if the Shin Bet was misrepresenting the nature of these documents; the accuracy of the claim will be easily verifiable by merely reviewing the documents.

Haim says:

Enough with this self-indulging advocacy. Stop paying Blau’s expenses in London and return the documents.

Why leftist journalist thinks that they are above the law in the epithet of truth ?

Another Uber Huchem !!

Vlad says:

Anat Kamm stole secret documents and should be punished. Pollard made less crime and took life sentence eventhough in this case nothing compromised US security.

Fnord says:

She uncovered elements inside the IDF that were operating as rogue units, deliberately disobeying the law of the land and killing people without any judgement or oversight. That is the moral duty of any soldier to report.

It is interesting reading the comments here. They demonstrate just how far and deep the degeneration of Jewish thinking and ethnics have gone. The subservience to the military state and its rationale.

Anat Kamm, the brave journalist who copied the documents of an Israeli general demonstrating that an illegal policy of assassinating Palestinians i.e. death squades was being conducted, at the same time as the army was lying about this, is excoriated. Who did she steal the documents from? The army? Isn’t the army a public body? Taking documents demonstrating this level of illegality, which is what Daniel Ellsberg did in the Vietnam War and other journalists before and since, would make her and Uri Blau a hero in most countries bar the Middle East’s ‘only democracy’.

And of course note how the above assorted right-wingers have already found both journalists guilty. Indeed Kamm took secret military documents concerning Israeli military doctrine!!! One cannot imagine just what they must have contained? The truth?

Pedro d'Ibazo says:

Anat Kamm did what Jonathan Pollard is spending life in prison for doing. She should be tossed away until she is 85.

Ravak HaShalom says:

It is ok for Pollard, because the American had promised Israel the information… But is not OK for Anat, because 3 “generals” defy the supreme court to commit murder! What a double stand if I ever seen one… I am glad I do not work for this people any longer. As they say I did my time and I am glad I am out…

Stephen Cohen says:

She signed an agreement with the government of Israel to keep those documents secret. She violated that agreement. The judge should have sentenced her to LIFE in jail. There is no excluse whatsoever.

If she felt that the government committed a wrong then the proper jurisdiction would have been through the judicial system.

What is the difference between her and Mordechai Vanunu… There is no difference.

Stephen Cohen says:

Ravak HaShalom: You are WRONG!

If the US has promised to give the documents to Isreal consequently, this in no way justifies Pollard illegal activity.

There is an interesting article about Pollard.

There have been many articles wriiten on why this nut should not be released. Most interesting was Pollard’s attempt to spy for Australia, South Africa and Russia prior to spying for Israel.

Wait a minute, lets not forget he gave his wife documents relating to CHINA that she gave to the Chinese.

Pollard deserves LIFE in jail. He is pure scum. He sold himself to the highest bidder. Israel should be proud as they were number 4 behind China.

Stephen Cohen says:

Tony Greenstein:

You logic sucks. If in fact a wrong had been committed and she was aware of this wrong then she should have gone to the Judicial system to correct this wrong.

No judicial system allows one to take the law into their own hands. If someone commits a crime that does give you the right to engage in criminal activity.

One can not say, He did it so I did it. That is pure nonsense.

Her mistake was not going direct to the courts in order to seek a remedy.

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The Stupid Anat Kamm Gag Order

Yossi Melman explains why he couldn’t report the facts

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