Monday, April 12, 2010

Ministry of Truth

Yuval Elbashan is a lawyer by training. I dare you to find even the remotest vestige of respect for the law in his op-ed today, in which he castigates any and all journalists who didn't line up to support Uri Blau, possessor of illegally stolen documents, and perhaps obstructor of a criminal investigation. On the contrary: everything that has been written or said that does not support Haaretz, is cited as evidence of the failure of reporters and pundits to do their job.
An outsider scrutinizing their conduct in this affair will not be able to avoid feeling shame. Of all people, they are the ones who took on the role of spokesmen for the establishment, as if they were still conscripts. With enthusiasm they reiterated the claim that the material held by Blau has the potential to cause harm. They are the ones who disseminated the claim - without being able to check or verify it - that the case involves hundreds of documents that constitute state secrets. And they are the ones who volunteered the claim that the quantity of documents held by Blau is what makes him qualitatively different from them and their documents, and hence justifies his persecution.
- When did you last beat your wife?
- But I'm not married and never beat anyone!
- Aha! So you're also a liar, not only a wife beater!

Elbashan isn't on the payroll of Haaretz, so his position may be a sincere expression of a worldview. Back in the early days of this blog I created a tag called "Rational Discourse?", which I use to flag cases when such discourse is not possible. Maybe I now need to add a tag "Rational Discourse Not Possible!" Not because Elbashan isn't entitled to his own opinions or those of this groupthink colleagues; rather for his thought process. If anyone agrees with us, he's right. If they don't, it's further proof, not only that we're right, but also that the others are dominated by the Evil Ones.

The Evil Ones being the authorities of the State of Israel.

In a related matter, Anat Kamm's lawyers seem to have come to their senses. Rather than sacrifice their client for an ideal, they're bending over backwards to assist the authorities (or, as Elbashan might put it, the dangerous authorities). They have announced that Kamm revokes any claim she might have had to Uri Blau's protection of her as a source. On the contrary: her/their position is that he should return immediately to Israel and hand over to the authorities whatever documents he received from her. It will be interesting to see what happens next. Interesting, and instructive.


Anonymous said...

If Kamm manages to go on on that adult path of taking responsibility for what she did she may become an important voice to tell confused young ones to stop listening to the sirens of "anything goes" and become responsible also.

If she wants to prove that she is an honest repenter and not just using the most promising legal gimmick to get out of the mess she created she should INSIST on going to prison for what she did and for a long time donate the money she'll be offered for her story.


Sylvia said...

And just in: it appears that following attorney's Avigdor Feldman and Michel Sfard'a petitions, the State Attorney General Meni Mazuz has/had issued a legal opinion on the targeted assassination at the heart of the story: the action was executed totally in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the law and the Court's rulings. That should put it to rest.

I speculate that Uri Blau will surrender the documents, return to Israel, cooperate with the authorities, and that Haaretz will get off its high ladder and abandon all idea of a deal. Just return the documents.

NormanF said...

Makes me wonder whether Haaretz and the Israeli Left will be quick to drop Kam after she's turning state's witness on Uri Blau.

I'm certain the fallout will be quite fascinating. The rival Jerusalem Post got its digs in at Israel's Hebrew Palestinian daily for its breaking the laws of the country and shielding a fugitive on the run.

The affair is not turning out the way that Haaretz and its editors hoped. Stay tuned.

AKUS said...

The claim that Kamm is "revoking" is, actually, nothing, since we all know that she has said that she was the source for Blau's article.

In order that Blau and Ha'aretz cannot hide behind her by claiming that if they gave up the documents they still hold they would be compromising her and must protect their source - which is ridiculous, since she has admitted that she gave them the documents - she has said she renounces the need for them to protect her as the source. This is essentially part of her plea bargain for a lighter sentence.

If this sound like some kind of humpty-dumpty legal argument, I guess it is.

NormanF said...

Akus, there is no freedom of speech issue here. There never is with regards to treason. As for Kam's coming clean, I marvel that the prospect of a long stint in prison was inducement enough for her not to do a Daniel Ellsberg "Pentagon Papers type stunt. She's not going to be the poster girl for Haaretz's ideological agenda. Now all the attention's back on the paper and on its on the lam reporter. The Fourth Estate is not above the law. Time to nail those hypocritical leftists right to its cross!

AKUS said...

NormanF - absolutely - Ha'aretz has become a rallying point for all those seeking dirt to throw at Israel in a way that is never done for any other country. I don't know if its possible, but I hope that they can be sued into bankruptcy.

Scott said...

I actually have several questions about this.

First, is there evidence that Blau or Ha'aretz actually paid money for the documents or Kamm otherwise benefited from their leak? From the tenor of the coverage, it seems that she was attempting to lever these into some form of a quid pro quo.

Second, has there been a movement to boycott Ha'aretz for it's actions? Such as advertisers announcing that they will no longer look to there to place their ads. That would be evidence of a clear problem, since ad revenue is generally the major driver for most media operations.

Third, reading the original article the tenor of the discussions is in essence 'We want this guy dead or alive, so if you can't get him alive, you are authorized to kill him.' I assume from the actual photocopied documents this is a reasonable analysis of the 'scoop'.

And finally, I am also safe in assuming that she could have pursued a complaint internally inside the IDF by going to the Inspector General's office to use the American term. Have there been cases recently of such matters happening where the IG has acted? (and how much of the complaints about the IG being corrupt from certain elements of the blogosphere are because it won't automatically regurgitate a judgement in line with their ideological leanings without proof positive of a criminal offense?)


Gavin said...

It's the irrationality of these people that I have so much trouble with Yaacov, it really flummoxes me. This latest issue is a case in point. The court order can be summarised as;

- It is forbidden to intentionally kill militants when an arrest is possible.

The left have read the first part and blocked out the rest. It's a conditional statement, yet they blithely pretend the condition doesn't exist. A rational reading of that court order would conclude that;

- It is permitted to kill militants when an arrest is not possible.

The key phrase is "when an arrest is possible" yet the left have totally blocked that out of their minds. They do it all the time, select only what suits their twisted thinking and totally distort the true meaning. I also encounter this when debating economics with the far right, it's as if these people on the political fringes have a mental disability that stops them thinking rationally.

Regards, Gavin.