WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO
Established in June 1957 by 31 enterprising journalists, the Foreign Press Association in Israel -- known as the FPA -- attempts to fulfill the same task today as it did at its inception -- working to assist our members in covering the Middle East conflict.
We regularly organize news conferences for our members with leading figures from Israel and the Palestinian Territories, but this is not our primary goal or remit. Much of our attention is focused on the core interests of reporters living here who often find themselves overwhelmed or even threatened by the authorities on both side of the divide. Our mandate is to clarify bureaucratic problems and to protect our interests. Much of what we do goes on beneath the radar, but over the years we have saved our members much time, money and grief.
To give simple examples, we constantly stand up and fight to maintain tax breaks for foreign reporters in Israel, recently addressing a Knesset committee to defend our position. We have managed to simplify customs on professional equipment and regularly facilitate the granting of work permits. In recent weeks, after years of fighting, we finally managed to secure an agreement with the transport ministry to prevent our members from having to apply for Israeli driving licenses. Some of the issues are more complex – such as gaining access to conflict areas. In certain instances this has meant approaching the Supreme Court for rulings.
The authorities know and respect the FPA after years of interaction. Being a member gives you a certain level of protection when you are out in the field. We are in regular contact with the IDF and the border police and can swiftly intervene in an emergency.
While we stand for open coverage of news events and accessibility to newsworthy sites, we are aware of security constraints. The relevant authority will request the FPA to allocate pool duties for TV, radio, print and stills when open access is not possible. The recent visit of President Obama was one such occasion and the upcoming visit of the Pope in early 2014 will almost certainly involve pool cover.
Regarding the Prime Minister’s flights abroad, the FPA is allocated a certain number of seats for FPA members. These are not free seats, but many media outlets find that this is a prime opportunity to gain exclusive insights into regional policy. The same applies in war time where access to war zone is coordinated with the IDF as far as embeds and movement to the front is concerned.
The FPA is a legally registered private, non-profit organization operating solely on the basis of annual membership dues. As such we are supervised and subject to annual audit by a firm of chartered public accountants. The organization has one paid official – the executive secretary – and is run by a voluntary Chairman and Board annually elected by the membership. The names of the Chairman and Board are listed on the FPA website:
To date, the FPA numbers some 480 members representing TV, radio, photojournalists and print media from 32 countries reaching from Australia to Qatar, Africa to Europe, China to the USA. Our members are listed in a hard copy booklet entitled Who is Who in the FPA. This is updated every year and considered an essential and credible tool by the various authorities, institutions and private organizations who interact with the foreign media in the region.
Everyone is obviously free to choose whether they want to join, but the more members we have, the more clout we wield and the easier it is to gain concessions from the often diffident authorities that dot the landscape.
For further questions and/clarifications please contact the FPA office or call the executive secretary on +972 547 545831.
Joining the FPA
We encourage all journalists working for international news organizations and based in Israel, the West Bank or Gaza Strip to become members of the FPA, provided they have a registered office based in Israel - as a legally registered organization, this is required by law.
FPA Active Membership dues are NIS. 1150 (roughly US $ 330) a year.
FPA Associate Membership is available for part-time / freelance journalists, who can participate in all FPA activities, but cannot vote in board elections. Dues are NIS.1000 (about US $ 285) a year
**FIRST-TIME APPLICANTS also pay a registration fee of NIS.150 (about $42).
To apply: Please contact Executive Secretary Glenys Sugarman at the FPA office or contact us via the website.
Applicants should present a letter from an editor or senior producer at their news organization's home office, verifying their position with the company or affiliation status.
For freelance correspondents, copies of clippings or radio broadcasts taken from three months of work must be presented and will be returned. This is in addition to a letter from the editor/s of the media organization to which you contribute as a journalist.
All applicants must be sponsored by two Active FPA Members and present two recent photographs to receive a membership card.