Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

‘Ex-soldier accused of espionage is made a scapegoat’

8 April 2010

Anat Kam

Anat Kam

Anat Kam, the journalist and ex-soldier suspected of “serious espionage” for allegedly giving classified information to a reporter from Haaretz regarding the IDF’s rules of engagement has been made a scapegoat, her defense attorney told Army Radio Thursday. “Where’s the intent to undermine state security? The fact that she handed the information over to a journalist for him to publish,” Avidgor Feldman told Army Radio.

IOA Editor: While the story of the whistleblower — an innocent, well-meaning, and very naive young woman — is important, it is far more important not to forget the message while focusing on the fate of the messengers. The original news story was about senior IDF generals, including Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, knowingly violating Israeli Supreme Court ruling by ordering the assassinations of West Bank Palestinians who could have been captured alive. Much as it is important to cover Israel’s censorship practices and the limits to its democracy (which are both profound and numerous), the important story behind the current expose is the ongoing story of the Occupation: Israel’s 43-year long Occupation has been fraught with assassinations — “targeted,” mass-produced, or just random and wanton, the distinctions largely depend on circumstances,  media vogue, or the commentator.

Liberal circles in the US and Israel, that are particularly critical of the current Israeli government, focus on this latest story as though it were the most important issue of the day. It is not. Important as it is to expose the IDF’s plans to act in contravention of Israeli Supreme Court decisions — as if these are the only legal matters the IDF routinely contravenes — it is the Occupation that looms large, and is consistently ignored or minimized by, among others, the very same critics who now cry foul about IDF violations of freedom of speech.  The IDF record of violations is far, far worse than violating the right of publishing reports of its own planned crimes.  Much as this is obvious to some of us, it appears many others conveniently overlook the most significant crime involved here: the Occupation itself.

Rest assured that Israel’s penal system will deal with the offending messengers as it knows best: Ms. Kam is likely to spend many years in jail (a-la Mr. Vanunu), and Mr. Blau, should he return to Israel from his self-imposed exile, will face a similar fate.  The arch-criminals are not about to surrender their empire on account of a whistleblower.  Thus, even as we focus on the journalists, let’s be sure to keep a steady eye on the actual criminals, and on their empire.

Note on linking to the original Uri Blau story: This news report, here and  in the original Haaretz article, includes a reference to a link to the original Uri Blau story.  However, no such link is included. Furthermore, a search on the Haaretz English website results in no articles by Uri Blau, and only the following title of an article related to Mr Blau’s original findings: Rights group to Mazuz: Probe IDF targeted killings in West Bank.  However, as of today (8 April 2010), this link leads to a blank page on the Haaretz website.  It is possible that Haaretz decided to remove all of Mr. Blau’s work, or even references to it, from its English website, or to remove search results, without removing the pages themselves.  The following is a link to the Hebrew version of the original Uri Blau story which prompted this Israeli Censorship affair:

As has often been the case in Israel, including with Haaretz coverage, certain discussions are restricted to domestic circles and Hebrew-only, lest the world discover just who we really are, and what we actually do in the Occupied Territories.  It is not clear whether Haaretz removed the offending Blau work based on legal advice (if so, why not the Hebrew version?), or because it chose not to push its luck with the Military Authorities, or perhaps its English language website search functions are poorly designed.

Further research discovered the following link to the original Uri Blau story:

RELATED: Shin Bet chief Diskin: “Enemy states dream about getting their hands on such documents” (pdf)

By Yossi Melman and Amos Harel, Haaretz – 8 April 2010

Anat Kam suspected of ‘serious espionage’ for allegedly giving classified information to a Haaretz reporter.

Anat Kam, the journalist and ex-soldier suspected of “serious espionage” for allegedly giving classified information to a reporter from Haaretz regarding the IDF’s rules of engagement has been made a scapegoat, her defense attorney told Army Radio Thursday.

“Where’s the intent to undermine state security? The fact that she handed the information over to a journalist for him to publish,” Avidgor Feldman told Army Radio.

“If she had been really interested to undermine state security, there would have been no shortage in hands and ears willing to accept that material and use to hurt the state,” Feldman said, adding that he felt “someone just said to himself ‘let’s find a scapegoat.’”

The affair, which has been circulating media worldwide over the last few weeks, was under a strict gag order in Israel, preventing any Israeli media from reporting on the case.

(Click here to read the original article by Haaretz reporter Uri Blau) [A link to the original Uri Blau story was not included in this Haaretz story, but is added here by the]

Kam, 23, is accused of appropriating 2,000 documents, 700 of which were classified as “top secret” while serving in the IDF’s Central Command in 2007. After her army service, Kam went on to work for the Walla news agency.

“She’s an Israeli, she’s a Zionist – she’s even opposed to the refusal of orders,” a representative of Kam said Thursday, after the gag order was lifted. Kam had “no intention of harming the security of Israel,” he added. “This is a dangerous precedent.”

Haaretz is currently negotiating with the legal authorities for the return of the reporter in question, Uri Blau, who is presently in London.

In a rare media briefing on Thursday, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin said that Blau was currently wanted by both the security service and Israel Police for questioning.

According to an agreement reached in September 2009 by the Shin Bet and Haaretz’s lawyer, Mibi Mozer, Blau was to return to the security services some 50 classified documents still in his possession. But the Shin Bet believes Blau is still holding a nymber of secret documents that he received from Kam.

“Our main goal is to see those classified documents returned so that they do not fall into hostile hands,” said Diskin. “It is the dream of all our enemy states to get their hands on these kinds of documents.”

“We see this is a very serious matter in terms of the potential security damages it could save caused,” added Diskin. “This affair is not yet over. We are looking for the documents and waiting for them to return to the country, so that the damage cannot be caused.”

Haaretz learned Monday that Israel’s defense establishment decided to withdraw its support of a months-long blanket gag order on the security-related affair.

Diskin told reporters on Thursday that he had agreed to a partial lifting on the gag order after Mozer rejected an offer for another arrangement between Blau and the security services.

The names of those parties involved in the case and the charges leveled against them were thus released in Israel for the first time on Thursday.

Representatives of the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet security service and the State Prosecutor’s Office filed an appeal with the Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday, in which they requested the partial removal of the gag order. It has been in place for the last three and a half months.

Despite the court-imposed gag order, Israeli blogs and Web sites, along with foreign media outlets not subject to Israeli law, have been discussing the affair in detail over the past several weeks.

The reversal in the position reportedly came about after messages from the Supreme Court were sent to the State Prosecutor’s Office and the presiding judge, Ze’ev Hammer, allegedly hinting at the peculiar situation created, in which Israeli media was banned from publishing the story while worldwide outlets already released most of its details.

Col. Sima Vaknin-Gil, the chief military censor, commented on the situation during an interview with Haaretz on Monday. “I think when the coverage began abroad … especially with the comprehensive aspects connected to Israel’s image, it would have been right to consider lifting the order, at least partially,” she said.

Sometimes, she continued, “when there is a gag order, the censor is even barred from expressing its professional opinion and has to wait like everyone else for the order to be lifted – usually at the initiative of the media or the body that issued the order.

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