Sunday, August 07, 2011

French journalists' union acts against Gilad Shalit

Paraphrased from JSSNews:

Radio France Internationale (RFI) is a well known radio station for all French speakers worldwide. It is one of the only radio station that broadcasts the voice of France across the globe.

Every day the station lists reminds its listeners not to forget about all the French hostages held around the world, and reads their names.

The problem is that Gilad Shalit never was mentioned in this list, even though he is a French-Israeli who is held hostage by a terrorist group.

To counter this omission, two Zionist activists - Jonathan Curiel and Yoann Taïeb - have been pushing that Shalit is not forgotten in France.

Initially, the media response was that Shalit was not French. This is easy to refute. Then they argued that Shalit is a prisoner of war. Even President Sarkozy noted that prisoners of war have certain privileges under international law; Shalit has none.

Gradually, the two activists have managed to include Gilad Shalit as a French hostage "like the others" in various French radio broadcasts, including at RFI.

But JSSNews obtained the minutes of a French National Union of Journalists (SNJ) meeting that took place on July 26th, only days after the RFI decision, demanding an explanation from the station's management for their decision.

The union wrote to RFI:
Gilad Shalit is a French-Israeli soldier kidnapped 5 years ago by a Palestinian faction. He is a prisoner of war, and yet the RFI now lists him among the "French hostages" (civilian) which is noted every day at 8am in the broadcast. A pro-Israel information site jssnews.com welcomes and boasts of having sent "notice" to Alain de Pouzi. What's going on? Was the management of RFI pressured? Why this change of attitude about Gilad Shalit?

RFI responded:

Yes, RFI was contacted by a "listener who is interested in the issue." We turned to the Quai d'Orsay [French Ministry of Foreign Affairs], which aligns itself to the position of French President: "Gilad Shalit is not a prisoner of war because he does not enjoy the provisions of international conventions." He is therefore considered as a hostage.

The SNJ responded back:
If all the prisoners of war who do not benefit from provisions of international conventions were regarded as hostages, that would make the world .... (Remember Guantanamo?). The listener in question is actually an activist of jssnews.com, a site that speaks with virulently anti-Palestinian agenda.

Thus the powerful SNJ is deciding contrary to the provisions of the Geneva Conventions, and in defiance of the fact that the UN, the European Union, the International Red Cross, Amnesty International, the Elysée, the Quai d'Orsay or the group "Hostages of the World" say's that Shalit is not a prisoner of war...

To add power to their point of view, they speak about "civilian" hostages... Shalit was a soldier so, he cannot be counted! But the fact is that one man, Denis Alex, a member of French Secret Service, that has been held hostage in Somalia for 2 years... And he's been counted every day!

Gilad Shalit was doing his obligatory military service, he was not in hostile terrain or on an spy mission. Denis Alex was operating in hostile terrain and was on a spy mission. However, he is recognized as a civilian French hostage without any protest by the SNJ. Gilad Shalit is unfairly and arbitrarily excluded from his status as a hostage by the union. Without paranoia: is it because he is Israeli or Jewish ?

The SNJ has poisoned its credibility of of being objective in journalism with this letter.