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December 20, 2013 3:20 pm
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David Ward, MP Sponsors Ludicrous Anti-Israel Motion in House of Commons

avatar by Adam Levick

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MP David Ward. Photo: Wiki Commons.

The below motion, sponsored by Israel haters Jeremy Corbyn and David Ward, and signed by 41 other MPs (including George Galloway), in the House of Commons is an almost comical example of the anti-Israel double standards frequently employed by a small but vocal minority of British politicians.

Here’s the text:

That this House notes that, on a daily basis, Israeli authorities restrict journalists’ movements and there are hundreds of military checkpoints that constrain or forbid journalists’ movements; further notes that despite the long-standing campaigning by journalists and civil rights organisations, the Israeli authorities continue to reject identity cards, accreditation and press cards, including the International Federation of Journalists press card, when carried by Palestinian journalists; condemns the continuous attacks by Israeli soldiers on Palestinian news gatherers, in particular photographers and camera crews, the level of attacks has increased during the first half of 2013, in 2012 the attacks involved rubber coated steel bullets, tear grenades and stun grenades; and reaffirms that freedom of movement is a central tenet of independent professional journalism and, in restricting such a right, Israeli authorities are in breach of international covenants and the right to report.

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It seems that Ward and Corbyn woke up in the morning, and shuffled off to Westminster determined to convince their fellow MPs that Israel – which, per Freedom House, “enjoys the freest press in the region“ – urgently needed to be condemned for their record on press freedom.

Of note, Freedom House also wrote the following in their latest report on human rights in Israel:

Legal protections for freedom of the press are robust, and the rights of journalists are generally respected in practice. The country’s Basic Law does not specifically address the issue, but the Supreme Court has affirmed that freedom of expression is an essential component of human dignity. The legal standing of press freedom has also been reinforced by court rulings citing principles laid out in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

Additionally, it seems that Ward and Corbyn didn’t bother consulting the Committee to Protect Journalists, whose 2013 report was quite clear on which states were the worst violators of press freedom.

Which state is the worst violator, per CPJ?

Turkey headed the list for the second year in a row despite reducing the number of journalists imprisoned in the country from 49 last year to 40. However, of those released, some are awaiting trial and could still find themselves back behind bars.

In addition, other prisoners were released for time served while awaiting trial. In his November acceptance speech for the International Press Freedom Award, Turkish journalist Nedim Sener noted that it is common for journalists to sit in jail for lengthy periods in Turkish prisons without being brought to trial.

Which state is the second worst violator, per CPJ?

Iran was holding 35 journalists in prison at the time of the CPJ survey, compared to 45 in 2012. Some of the prisoners from the year before finished their jail terms, while other were released “on furlough” and could be summoned to finish their terms at any time, according to CPJ, which also noted that Iran had continued making new arrests and handing down “lengthy prison sentences” to reformist journalists even after the election of President Hassan Rouhani, a presumed moderate.

Other violators of note:

Meanwhile in the tumultuous Middle East, the number of journalists officially detained in Syria declined from 15 last year to 12 in 2013, although CPJ noted that it did not take into account the number of journalists who were abducted and are being held by rebel groups. “As of late 2013, 30 journalists are missing in Syria,” it said.

In contrast, CPJ noted that “there are currently three journalists being held in Israeli jails, all three from the West Bank”.

Also absent in the resolution by Ward and Corbyn is any mention that, by and standard, the worst abuse of Palestinians journalists in the region is meted out by the Palestinian government in Gaza and the West Bank.  Indeed, reports abound detailing harassment and violence suffered by Palestinian journalists at the hands of Palestinian Authority officials, with journalists and bloggers often arrested, detained, and interrogated by PA security forces for the sole “crime” of being critical of Mahmoud Abbas.

Even Facebook users who’ve expressed ideas critical of the government have been arrested by Palestinian police.

Not surprisingly, Freedom House ranks the Palestinian territories as “not free” – the lowest of three possible rankings – with regard to the ability of Palestinian journalists to report on the Palestinian Authority with no restrictions.

As our coverage of the Guardian consistently demonstrates, the violation of Palestinian human rights by Palestinian leaders is of little concern to those blinded by a malign obsession towards the Jewish State.

Adam Levick is the managing editor of CiF Watch, an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

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