The Honorable Ron Dermer
Ambassador of Israel to the United States
3514 International Drive NW
Washington, DC 20008
Via Email: [email protected] and [email protected]
August 11, 2017
We at the Committee to Protect Journalists–an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for press freedom worldwide–write to express our deep concern about Communication Minister Ayoub Kara’s recent announcement that the Israeli government seeks to amend the law in order to shutter Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera’s bureau in Israel, revoke its license, and strip its journalists of their accreditation.
We would welcome the opportunity to elaborate in person on the concerns we raised in the New York Times yesterday. That a country that describes itself as the only democracy in the Middle East is citing Egypt’s military dictatorship and Saudi Arabia’s absolute monarchy as precedents in muzzling a media outlet is troubling, especially coupled with the government’s recent actions against journalists.
We encourage Israel to take a few steps to ensure that journalists and media outlets can operate freely in the country. First, the Israeli government should drop efforts to shutter Al-Jazeera, and should not change the law to target a broadcaster whose coverage it does not like. Second, Israeli soldiers and police should take all steps necessary to ensure that journalists can work safely and are not targeted by security forces during protests or other forms of unrest. Third, Israeli security forces should stop raiding and harassing media outlets on the unproven “suspicion” of incitement. And Israel should immediately free the journalists it jails without charge under the broadly abused terms of administrative detention.
We look forward to the chance to meet with you in person to discuss our concerns, and to hear what steps the Israeli government will to take to ensure that the press can operate freely in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Program Coordinator, Middle East and North Africa Program
Committee to Protect Journalists