Malgosia Krakowska

‘The Whistleblauwers:’ Israeli freedom of expression jeopardized

In 2008, a 21-year-old Israeli soldier, Anat Kam, gave Haaretz journalist Uri Blau, around 2,000 IDF classified documents. Based on these, Blau wrote an article about how Israeli military and security officials decided to kill Palestinian militants and intentionally ignored a Supreme Court order. Both of them were convicted for threatening national security and sentenced. From this highly publicized affair, a rather sad picture of the Israeli democracy and rule of law emerged. If you still believed that freedom of expression matters in Israel, let God have his mercy on you. It seems that Israeli democracy begins to suffocate…

”Two plus two equals five

In his famous novel Ninety Eighty- Four, George Orwell used the phrase 2+2=5, as an example of false statement the public must believe in. The equation is often used in order to illustrate a certain ideological agenda. Reading some of the comments under the articles about Blau and Kam, I understood that not only the judges of the Supreme Court believed the accusations but the majority of the Israeli public opinion ”bought” them as well. It was a decision which reflected a full display of loyalty to the military authorities despite its obvious misconduct.

Sometimes they are four…

Whistleblowers are individuals who tell the public or someone in authority about alleged misconduct or illegal activities of the government, a public or a private company, or an organization. The freedom of expression includes the right to impart information as well. It is a cornerstone of democracy. Suppressing it in the name of national security was used as an excuse by many authoritarian and totalitarian regimes in order to stay in power.

In Europe, whistleblowers enjoy a degree of protection since the European Court of Human Rights along with the Council of Europe acknowledged the importance of whistleblowers in stopping wrongdoing and recognized threats that whistleblowers are sure to face. Although, the resolution has no force in Israel, it could become an inspiration for the Israeli lawmakers to establish such a legislation.

Yet still, they remain to be three…

Alas, the Knesset passed the so called ”Anat Kam bill” which implicitly subjects whistleblowing to criminal prosecution. Additionally, Blau‘s sentence created a dangerous precedent for the Israeli press freedom, which can result in witch-hunt. During my visits to Israel, I have heard several times from the Israelis that the country ”is modern and European”. When I think of an adjective European in the legal context (I am a jurist), I think human rights and fundamental liberties where the freedom of expression is one of them. I do not understand how that conclusion is still being drawn in the light of that case. Blau and Kam blew their whistles loud. While their first sounds revealed violation of law, their echoes showed that the quality of Israeli democracy has evidently deteriorated.

 *Soviet propaganda poster : ”We will eradicate spies and saboteurs”.

About the Author
Malgosia Krakowska is an international journalist focusing on international affairs and international security issues. University of Amsterdam alumna (P in Hebrew language and culture, LL.B. in Dutch law and LL.M. in international law).