Foreign Media Union’s Overreaction

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Foreign media union slams begins one headline after an incident involving security for a private meeting between PM Benjamin Netanyahu and visiting French PM Manuel Valls in Jerusalem, Israel on Monday.

Long Facebook threads are blasting Israeli security for not honoring an FPA photographer’s GPO (Government Press Office) press pass. The media is reacting, way over reacting, in my opinion.

I use my GPO press pass often. The weather has to be really, really bad for me to wear boots to Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s House.



I have learned the hard way that my new boots set off the metal detectors. And no matter how many times I have been there, I have to go into the little room, sit down and take off offending boots and wait while they are scanned. I hate it. It is not fun to be searched, over and over. I have watched visiting women from the US go through the same ordeal. I have even apologized to guests for extreme security measures. It is embarrassing.

Every piece of photography equipment, small batteries and wires are put through x-ray machines, as are bags, with wallets and batteries removed. I have dozens of photos of the floor, proving my camera is really a camera.

And all that is simple and nothing like when the Prime Minister is involved!

Once at the Begin Center the security was so long and slow I almost went home. It was an event with family of a former Israeli President. Only those with a GPO press pass could attend. All standing in line were from Israeli sources. All suffered along. It is the way it is.

Like it or not, there is excessive security in Israel.

I have had to remove my watch, my earrings, my coat, my boots.

A friend was once asked to remove her bra. She left.

Yep, it is awful.  But headline worthy? Nope.

However, looking up the FPA original statement,  I found this:

On Thursday, FPA member Heidi Levine, a photographer for SIPA Press, was detained by Hamas security men for more than three hours before she was allowed to leave Gaza. As she exited, Hamas security told her she was banned from the territory, claiming her work “reflects badly on Gaza.” They provided no examples of the work that allegedly upset them.

The FPA strongly condemns the thuggish behavior of the Hamas security and the implication that Hamas should judge what is or isn’t acceptable coverage of Gaza. Unfortunately, this incident is not isolated. A number of FPA members have reported being forced to undergo uncomfortable questioning by Hamas security forces while entering or exiting Gaza in recent months.

We call on Hamas to end these practices immediately and urge the group to give journalists unfettered access in and out of Gaza. May 19th 2016

Hmm, where was the international outrage about Ms. Levine being thrown out of Gaza and told not to return, banned because she “reflects badly” on Hamas control?

There are some journalists who seem to make a habit of “reflecting badly” on Israel.

Here is the photo the FPA banned.

Official photo of Israel PM Netanyahu and French PM Manuel Valls
ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו עם ראש ממשלת צרפת מנואל ואלס
הצהרות משותפות ופגישה
Photo by Kobi Gideon / GPO

Truth be told, it was a boring photo op for any serious photojournalist. I wouldn’t have wanted to go and endured hours of waiting and security checks either.

Will foreign media share Netanyahu’s comments?

There is no issue too complex to solve if both sides are willing to talk to each other. And I am more than willing; I am eager. I was injured in battle; I lost a brother; I lost many friends in battle. Israel wants nothing more than peace. And I hope you encourage President Abbas to accept this French initiative: direct negotiations without preconditions, between the Israeli prime minister, the Palestinian president in Paris.

I’m ready to clear my schedule and fly to Paris tomorrow – well, I think tomorrow we’re expanding the government, but the day after tomorrow, Manuel. And it’s an open offer. I will clear my calendar, and I hope that this is taken up by you and by the Palestinians. Israelis and Palestinians have suffered too much. It’s time to sit down together and work out our differences so that peace may reign at long last. And in the spirit of peace, I welcome you to Jerusalem. The word Jerusalem means city of peace. Welcome.”

Not sharing a GPO photo is one thing, will foreign media also keep yet another offer from Israel for peace talks out of their headlines?

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I lived in the United States, Canada and Australia before moving to Israel in the midst of the Second Lebanon War. For the last ten years, walking the streets of Jerusalem, the scenes I saw every day did not resemble the ones familiar in the Western media. Now I try to share those positive images with the world, what is really happening in Jerusalem, Israel, The Real Jerusalem Streets