Israeli Hawks Threaten 'Ultimate War Crime', Ban Discussion, Target Media Critics
November 21, 2011
Anti-War.com & Agence France-Presse & YNet News & Associated Press
In an interview on CNN, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met a question about Israel's repeated threats to attack Iran with scorn, saying it was not "a subject for public discussion." After the "All for Peace" radio station was ordered closed by the Communications Ministry (for illegally criticizing the far-right coalition government), hundreds of journalists took part in an "emergency conference" to discuss what they referred to as immediate threats to freedom of the press.
Israeli Defense Minister:
'Time Has Come' to Move Against Iran
Jason Ditz / Anti-War.com
TEL AVIV (November 20, 2011) -- In an interview on CNN today, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met a question about Israel's repeated threats to attack Iran with scorn, saying it was not "a subject for public discussion."
Barak went on in his explanation to say that "people understand that the time has come," raising further speculation that Israel may be launching such an attack in the next few weeks, before the winter weather makes it inconvenient.
Israel has been threatening to attack Iran, of course, for decades. Yet the recent flurry of allegations and demands for the West to "crack down" on Iran before Israel moves unilaterally raises concerns that the attack may be in the offing.
Barak also claimed that the Iranian government was within a year of a "capability" for a nuclear weapon during the interview. Though the statement's validity might be arguably credible depending on the definition of "capability," it must also be mentioned that officials have been accusing Iran of being within a "year or two" of nuclear arms since the Reagan Administration.
'Time Has Come' to Act on Iran, Israel Says
(November 20, 2011) -- The "time has come" to deal with Iran, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday, refusing to rule out military action to curb the Islamic republic's nuclear ambitions. Barak, speaking on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS program, indicated that Israel's patience was wearing thin -- and provided an ominous response when asked about the growing speculation of an Israeli military strike.
"I don't think that that is a subject for public discussion," he said. "But I can tell you that the IAEA report has a sobering impact on many in the world, leaders as well as the publics, and people understand that the time has come."
The International Atomic Energy Agency published a report on November 8 saying there was "credible" information that Iran was carrying out "activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device."
On Friday the IAEA's board passed a resolution condemning Iran's nuclear activities, but stopped short of reporting Tehran to the United Nations and issuing no deadline for compliance. "People understand now that Iran is determined to reach nuclear weapons," said Barak. There is "no other possible or conceivable explanation for what they have been actually doing. And that should be stopped."
The IAEA report -- based on "broadly, credible" intelligence, its own information and some input from Iran itself -- said that Iran had examined how to fit out a Shahab 3 missile, with a range capable of reaching Israel, with a nuclear warhead. Tehran rejected the report "baseless," denies it is seeking nuclear weapons and maintains its nuclear activities are for civilian energy purposes.
Washington, Paris and London however jumped on the report as justification to increase pressure on Iran, already under four rounds of Security Council sanctions and additional US and European Union restrictions.
Israel Shuts Down Radio Station for Criticizing Regime
(November 20, 2011) -- The "All for Peace" radio station in Israel has been shut down by the nation's Communications Ministry following claims that they were violating the law by illegally criticizing the far-right coalition government.
The Communications Ministry said the Hebrew-language broadcasts were illegal because they were "economically damaging" to other local radio stations, and said that since they were operating out of the West Bank they could not legally broadcast into Israel without special permission. But MP Danny Danon, a top member of the ruling Likud Party, has boasted that he was responsible the shutdown, having pressed the Attorney General to shutter the station months ago before writing a letter demanding the Communications Ministry move against him.
"A radical leftist station that becomes an instrument of incitement must not be allowed to broadcast to the public," Danon insisted, saying that one of the employees of the station once expressed support for Palestinian statehood in an on-air discussion.
The shutdown is just part of what a number of journalists in Israel are calling a broad effort to harm freedom of the press in the nation. Hundreds of journalists held a conference in Tel Aviv to discuss the ramifications of a newly proposed libel law that would allow MPs to sue journalists for publishing factual but damaging reports.
'Clear and Present Danger to Freedom of the Press'
Tomer Velmer / YNet News
Journalists hold 'emergency conference' amid 'government's attempt to silence dissenting voices'
TEL AVIV (November 20, 2011) -- Hundreds of journalists on Sunday took part in an "emergency conference" to discuss what they referred to as immediate threats to freedom of the press. The conference, held at Tel Aviv's Cinematheque, was called in response to a recent downsizing in Israeli media outlets, the pending closure of Israeli libel laws.
The host, Motti Kirshenbaum, said the conference was aimed at "fortifying the freedom of the press at a time when there are attempts to (limit it)," adding that "the Israeli press is powerful and influential. Not that it is free of biases or mistakes, but pluralism is crucial to the media's work and must be safeguarded."
The Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee recently approved an amendment to the current libel law that, if approved by the Knesset, would result in a significant hike to the maximum damages paid and would loosen the criteria for slander and libel. Critics of the amendment claim this will obstruct freedom of expression and the independent press.
Radio broadcaster Razi Barkai said, "We should have held this conference a long time ago, when the (attacks) on the various media outlets began. We chose a narcissistic profession, and we normally don't care when our colleagues are hurt, but it's time we unite and stop the aggressiveness."
Israeli-Palestinian Radio Station Shut Down
Economically Damaging Local Franchisees'
The ministry, headed by a Likud cabinet minister, said in a statement that the station's Hebrew-language broadcasts inside Israel were "economically damaging local radio franchisees." It did not mention the issue of incitement.
Mossi Raz, the Israeli director of the station, said that it transmits from the West Bank where it is not subject to Israeli law. He told Israel Radio that the station, which has been operating since 2004, would go to court in Israel to try to get back on the air.
Raz also said the ministry had never questioned the legality of the station's operations in the past, and that the Israeli Government Press Office has issued press cards to the station's journalists.
The string of moves against Israel's dovish left wing has drawn heavy criticism of the government, and there have been signs that the government may be backing down.
On Sunday, an official in Netanyahu's office said the prime minister oppose a bill that would allow lawmakers to veto Supreme Court appointments. Conservatives say the court has a liberal bias. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to publicly discuss Netanyahu's position
Israeli journalists also oppose the tightening of a libel law that critics say would put a major chill on investigative reports.
The closure of the radio station "joins a wave of legislation and other measures against a free press in Israel that very much worries anyone who cares about Israeli democracy," said Danny Zaken, the head of the Israeli journalists' association.
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