The Foreign Press Association demands that Israeli Authorities immediately cease undressing foreign and Arab journalists at official events.
This outrageous policy is an affront to common sense, an assault on human dignity and a blight upon the state of Israel. It simply must stop.
The latest outrage occurred earlier today when an Al Jazeera cameraman was asked to remove his pants upon arrival for an interview with President Shimon Peres _ an interview that came at the invitation of the president himself to criticize anti-Muslim violence! The explanations we have received - that such inspections are necessary for Arab journalists - are deeply troubling in a country that bills itself as the Middle East's only democracy.
It is not the first time this has happened. This pattern has existed for years and has become more entrenched and aggressive over the past year.
We respect Israel's need to maintain tight security. But when there is so much technology available to scan both people and their belongings, such practices cannot be justified and have nothing to do with security. The truth is darker and sadder: This lamentable policy combines blatant racism with systematic and ham-handed media harassment.
Sadly, by now we expect nothing better from the Shin Bet. Frankly, we have ceased hoping that the Prime Minister's Office - scene of some of the most persistent abuses - will intervene. But it is deeply disappointing that this policy is also accepted and enabled by the office of Shimon Peres - a Nobel Peace Laureate and outspoken advocate of human rights and progressive thinking. We respectfully call on the President to use the influence of his office to end this abomination.
The Foreign Press Association, October 4th, 2011
The Foreign Press Association condemns in the strongest terms the continued abuse of journalists by security personnel at the prime minister’s office. In the latest instance, a female photographer was asked to remove her bra during an intrusive search as she arrived to cover the prime minister’s news conference on Monday.
Such treatment is not only demeaning, humiliating and unnecessary, it also hurts the prime minister’s own public relations. The affected journalist was the pool photographer for the press conference. Since she did not enter, the international media did not receive photos from the event.
It must be stressed that the FPA has always recognized the legitimate security concerns at the PMO. But once again, the guards have gone overboard. We strongly urge the PMO to revisit its security practices to find the proper balance between protecting the prime minister and ensuring that journalists can do their work in a dignified and harassment-free environment.
The Board of the Foreign Press Association September 20th, 2011
The Foreign Press Association strongly condemns the continued harassment of journalists attending media events at the prime minister’s office. In the past two days, three female reporters in separate incidents were forced to undress, remove their bras and have them placed through an X-ray machine in front of a group of colleagues. In addition, pocketbooks were emptied in public, with personal items also put on display and X-rayed for everyone to see.
This type of treatment is unnecessary, humiliating and counterproductive. After repeated appeals and promises by security officials it appears that the Prime Minister's Office does not have the desire to stop this happening and so the FPA will begin consulting its members over whether the foreign media should no longer cover events at the PM's offfice as this is the only occasion where this type of incident occurs. The Foreign Press Association 21st July 2011
The Foreign Press Association welcomes the prime minister’s decision to drop plans to deport and ban journalists covering the Gaza flotilla. We are pleased to see that Israel has recognized the value of allowing reporters to cover an important news event, and understands that journalists should be treated differently from political activists. We urge the government to continue to do its utmost to promote freedom of the press as core values of a democratic society. The Foreign Press Association , 27th June 2011
The government’s threat to punish journalists covering the Gaza flotilla sends a chilling message to the international media and raises serious questions about Israel’s commitment to freedom of the press. Journalists covering a legitimate news event should be allowed to do their jobs without threats and intimidation. We urge the government to reverse its decision immediately. The board of The Foreign Press Association 26th June, 2011
The Foreign Press Association is utterly baffled by the treatment our members received at Wednesday's press event in Ashdod with the Prime Minister. Once again members were subject to invasive and humiliating inspections and unnecessary waits that left people in the sun for hours. Some members, fed up with the wait, left the event. Others were only able to enter after the press conference had started. Sadly this has become standard procedure when covering the Prime Minister. It is incomprehensible that a leader so concerned with his international image could handle relations with teh press so poorly. We fully recognise Israel's legitimate security concerns and expect to undergo an inspection when covering these events. But the process is disorganised, arbitrary, humilitating andneedlessly invasive - particularly when applied to journalists who possess government-issued press cards. We repeat our call to the Prime Minister's office to revise its security procedures and to let us do our work. The Board of the Foreign Press Association, March 17th 2011
The Foreign Press Association is gravely concerned by Hamas’ crackdown on the media during demonstrations in Gaza City on Tuesday. On a day ostensibly devoted to Palestinian unity, police brutally attacked photographers and cameramen, beating them, breaking equipment and confiscating photos and video footage. This is the latest in a string of chilling attacks on reporters in Gaza. We again implore the authorities to respect the basic right of freedom of the press and to let all journalists do their jobs freely and safely. The Board of the Foreign Press Association March 16th 2011
The Foreign Press Association is deeply disturbed that Israeli officials are once again accusing the international media of being biased against Israel. In the latest instance, officials attending a parliamentary hearing on Tuesday dredged up ancient and unfounded conspiracy theories about an 11-year-old case and without providing any evidence, tried to equate it to coverage of the weekend knife attack in Itamar. We strongly urge Israeli officials to refrain from making unsubstantiated blanket statements against the international media _ a diverse group of hundreds of journalists from around the world _ and encourage parliament to seek out more credible witnesses in the future. The Board of the Foreign Press Association, 16th March 2011
On Monday, Feb. 28, plainclothes Hamas agents violently broke up a demonstration in Gaza City, detained a cameraman who filmed the incident, dragged him away and confiscated his footage. This was just the latest in a disturbing pattern of harassment and intimidation of journalists by Hamas. Unfortunately, our past appeals for press freedom have repeatedly been ignored by Hamas. We remind the group that our members all work for respected global news organizations. We again demand that Hamas allow journalists to do their work and respect the basic right of freedom of the press. Continued harassment will affect coverage of the story. The Board of the Foreign Press Association 2nd March 2011
The Foreign Press Association is outraged over the treatment members received at the hands of Israeli security personnel during Tuesday night's invitation-only gathering with the prime minister. While we appreciate the need for security, it is not remotely acceptable to invite people for cocktails at a five-star hotel and then make them undress at the door.
Several members were forced to remove their underwear, waiting for as long as 20 minutes in this humiliating situation while security checked their documents. Others, including the bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, were strip-searched and forced to take off their pants. A number of members walked out of the event in disgust following this despicable treatment.
It is incomprehensible that anyone would think such humiliating treatment is necessary at such an event. All GPO card holders are known to authorities and have already undergone extensive background checks. All participants emptied their pockets, submitted their equipment to inspection and went through metal detectors to enter.
The Shin Bet has its responsibilities but it must also operate within reasonable parameters. In a democratic country security services are not permitted to do as they please. For a government trying to usher in a new era of relations with the foreign media, it is a peculiar way to start. We are confident the prime minister would not accept such abusive security checks for his friends or family.
We ask for assurances that this will not happen again or we will respectfully decline further invitations.
The Board of the Foreign Press Association 12th January 2011