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Friday, July 17, 2009

IFJ likes some freedoms, not others

This past week the International Federation of Journalists was in the news, mostly because it decided to kick out the Israeli branch, the National Federation of Israeli Journalists. While the IFJ says that it was simply because the NFIJ wasn't paying its dues, the NFIJ thinks that there was a little bit more to it than that:

In January, the International Federation began issuing a series of letters condemning Israel for refusing to allow journalists to enter Gaza to cover Operation Cast Lead. The International Federation also published a report criticizing Israel's actions in Gaza and urging International Federation members and affiliated organizations to speak out against Israel's treatment of foreign journalists during the war.

According to Shibi, the International Federation report about Gaza was compiled without any Israeli input.

"No one called us to hear what we had to say," he said. Israeli journalists had things to say about the balance of rights of journalists to cover the war and the pressures coming from the army and the state, but the report was compiled without consulting a single Israeli source, he said.

"They are an organization fighting for ethics in journalism," he said. "Whoever may be the offended party, [everyone] has a right to say his piece; we were left out of the discussion completely."

"He [White] is kicking out the most free and fighting press corps in the region."

Shibi also mentioned that the International Federation had hosted a series of conferences in Europe about current media issues, but the Israeli unions were not invited.

The International Federation focused on the question of payments and how much the Israeli union should pay for membership.

Shibi said the Israeli union felt that it was not being accepted in the international framework. The National Federation of Israeli Journalists felt it should not pay "until we are full and equal members," he said. "No taxation without representation."

So a story that came out of Jordan yesterday is very interesting:
The Jordan Press Association (JPA) agreed to a request by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) to hold its conference in the Kingdom in October, after the latter agreed to exclude Israel's participation, a JPA council member said on Thursday.

"We are against any form of normalisation with Israel, which still occupies Arab lands and violates Arab and Palestinian rights," JPA Vice President Hikmat Momani told The Jordan Times, adding that the JPA also agreed to the organisation of several training workshops for journalists from across the region by the IFJ, provided that Israel does not take part.

It is one thing for the IFJ to say that they are excluding Israel for non-payment of dues, but for them to agree to exclude Israel because the Jordanian Press Association demanded it for purely political reasons is a completely different affair.

If the IFJ had any integrity, it would inform the Jordanians that excluding an Israeli group is not acceptable, period, and should not be a prerequisite for the conference, irrespective of its dispute with the Israeli union.

Which means that it sure does appear that the IFJ is making decisions based on its antipathy towards Israel and not because of a dues dispute.