On 16 July 2023, the Knesset Economic Committee held a debate initiated by MK Efrat Reitan (Labor) and MK Idan Roll (Yesh Atid) on protecting journalists covering demonstrations, in the wake of recurrent violent attacks on journalists by police and civilians. Taking part in the session were Zulat’s Executive Director Einat Ovadia and steering committee member Daniel Ben Simon, who presented Zulat’s proposal to anchor the protection of journalists in law, which MK Roll had submitted to the plenum and was struck down by the coalition.
Einat Ovadia: “The discussion should be more about the principle than about attacks at one demonstration or another, given that severe and unusual assaults on journalists doing their job have been with us since 2015. It is not just about the physical attack on journalists, who certainly are the ones who get hurt, but about the attack on freedom of expression. We will continue to see attacks on journalists unless instead of discussing what happened in this or that demonstration or whether journalists should be ordered to wear special vests, freedom of expression, with freedom of the press at its core, is anchored in legislation. Given that they are attacked because of their work, I also have reservations about the vest proposal as a distinctive vest would further expose journalists to attacks. The protection of journalists must be anchored in legislation. A bill we submitted to the Knesset two weeks ago was voted down. The current situation is such that our basic rights are protected haphazardly, some by Supreme Court rulings and others by this or that legislation, whereas the approach should be more comprehensive and thorough.”
Daniel Ben Simon: “We are in for a bad period, for a rift within the public. Journalists play an exceptional importance when a society is undergoing rupture. Somebody will have to own up for what happened here. This was the case in the United States after the Vietnam war and in France after it pulled out of Algeria.”
(Translation from Hebrew: Shoshana Michkin)
Watch (Hebrew, no subtitles):
>> Read the full position paper: Journalists Under Attack: Promoting Legislation on the Protection of Media Professionals