UN denies accreditation to press freedom NGO – for all the wrong reasons

(A slightly edited version of this article was first published last week in the Algemeiner under a different headline.)

An interesting news item caught my eye the other day. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) was denied press credentials at the UN, according to this Times of Israel report:

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A United Nations committee voted Thursday to deny consultative status to the Committee to Protect Journalists, effectively keeping the press freedom group from accessing UN bodies and processes.

The committee voted 10-6 with three abstentions on Thursday to deny CPJ’s application, which was first made in 2012.

South Africa, China and Russia were among the countries that voted against accreditation for the New York-based organization that seeks to protect press freedoms around the world and in conflict zones.

Azerbaijan, Burundi, Cuba, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Sudan and Venezuela also voted against CPJ’s application.

There is no surprise at those voting against. These are all third world or totalitarian states where press freedom is anathema to the authorities.  Similarly it is to be expected that  Israel, along with the US, voted in favour of granting the credentials.

I thought it would be interesting to examine this largely unknown organization, and see what their record looks like on Israel and the Palestinians. What I found shows a definite bias and lack of balance in their reporting in this area (I did not examine their record on other areas of the world).

Media Bias – a golden oldie that is still relevant

Starting with their list of “16 journalists killed “in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories“, this included several instances of terrorists masquerading as journalists, or journalists otherwise working directly for terror organizations.

For example the Palestinian cameraman Khaled Reyadh Hamad: According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center:

Khaled Riyad Muhammad Hamad, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades terrorist operative, apparently also worked for Hamas’ civilian media network. He was described as a “jihad fighter” journalist who was killed covering the fighting in Shejaiya. In the picture his body is wrapped in a green Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades flag. His Press vest and camera rest on the body (Hamas’ Felesteen.ps, July 27, 2014).

Sami Al-Aryan is recorded by the CPJ as a journalist, but Honest Reporting found that to be stretching the truth:

• In its 2014 report on reporters killed in 2014, the Committee to Protect Journalists included Sameh al-Aryan. He was a cameraman, but he worked for the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV station, which is the terror organization’s mouthpiece. Sorry, CPJ, but al-Aryan doesn’t belong in this tally. Without drawing a moral equivalence, he’s no more a journalist than, say, official White House photographer Pete Souza.

Hussam Salama and Mahmoud al-Kumi are similarly uncovered by Honest Reporting as Hamas terrorists:

The IDF Blog explains that they were:

Hamas operatives and cameramen for Hamas’ Al-Aqsa television network, which regularly features programming that encourages and praises attacks on Israeli civilians. … Palestinian media reported that the two men were indeed Hamas operatives.

Mahmoud Al-Kumi (left) and Hussam Salama, Hamas operatives

Honest Reporting further commented that:

At best, Al-Kumi and Salama were propagandists employed by a terror group; at worst, they were combatants adept at handling both cameras and Kalashnikovs. This was an ongoing disagreement between Israel and press groups like the Committee to Protect Journalists, which seemed to define journalists as simply anyone driving a car with the letters TV taped to the vehicle.

This methodology employed by the CPJ to report on killed journalists is similar to that employed by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in their report following Operation Protective Edge in 2014.  The Meir Amit Center examined the PJS’s list of 17 Palestinian journalists alleged to have been killed by Israel in Operation protective Edge and described the dishonesty in their report (pdf):

The findings of the examination indicate that the Palestinian list of 17 journalists killed during Operation Protective Edge was manipulative: it integrated names of civilians with names of  terrorist operatives who served in information and media capacities. […]  Manipulating the list of Palestinian journalists killed in Operation Protective Edge is another example of Hamas-led Palestinian tactics of deceit and fraud (as proved by the ITIC’s findings of the examination of the lists of Palestinian fatalities). Thus, distorting the truth about the Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge has become a propaganda weapon in the Palestinian political, propaganda and legal war being waged against the State of Israel.

Given this record of biased reporting on matters pertaining to Israel and the Palestinians, I find myself in rare agreement with the UN for having refused to give accreditation to the CPJ.  Unfortunately the refusal was for the wrong reason – not because of their bias or dishonest reporting but because of “procedural reasons”. This still leaves the door open for eventual accreditation despite having been rejected seven times before.

Nevertheless we can hope that this will provide an object lesson to the CPJ on how the UN mistreats any country or entity that does not fall into line with its majority of oppressive totalitarian states.

Maybe now the CPJ will engage in some self-examination into how it reports on the activities of journalists in the pay of terror organizations. This won’t bring it accreditation but it will at least make their refusal morally worthwhile.

This entry was posted in Lawfare and Delegitimization, Media and journalism, Terrorism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to UN denies accreditation to press freedom NGO – for all the wrong reasons

  1. Reality says:

    I’m delighted they were denied accreditation,but as you say their thinking is way off.We could point out that the Orlando killer could’ve also been a”journalist”if he would’ve “blogged”for some Isis newspaper.Would he otherwise have been included in the list of journalists killed in action? And as far as I knew there is no such thing as a civilian Hamasnik. I thought all of Hamas are considered terrorists,or am I wrong?

    • anneinpt says:

      Good points. It’s ironic that on the one hand the CPJ really do confront dictatorships and corruption, yet on the other hand they have this blind spot when it comes to the Palestinians, whose leadership is at least as dictatorial and corrupt. And yet in their eyes they can do no evil, and it’s all Israel’s fault.

      It’s a microcosm of the world’s absurd focus and obsession with Israel.

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