Israeli union defends internment of Palestinian journalists, threatens to leave international federation

The National Federation of Israeli Journalists is unhappy with this letter. Sent to UN chief Ban Ki Moon in November, it called for an end to violence and arbitrary imprisonment against women journalists around the world.

Penned by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) “[o]n the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women”, the letter criticized countries including Mexico, Iran, Russia and the Philippines for violations against journalists.

It also called on Israel to release two Palestinian journalists, Israa Salhab and Raed al-Sharif, imprisoned without trial in November. It was this that the Israeli union seems to have objected to.

Israel singles out itself, again

At the end of last month, union chair Danny Zaken told the Jerusalem Post:

I demand answers for the outrageous false paper the IFJ issued about violence toward women journalists in Israel… If no apology is forthcoming, the Israeli federation will waive its membership fees due next month and end its cooperation with the IFJ

The Jerusalem Post bizarrely reported this IFJ letter criticizing countries around the word as suggesting “that the Jewish state has been singled out unfairly for criticism”.  The letter (which is rather tame in its demands) in fact says nothing about “violence toward women journalists in Israel”.

One might expect a journalists’ union to defend the rights of other journalists against detention without trial (what Israel calls “administrative detention”). But it seems for the union of Israeli journalists, actually campaigning against the basic human rights of Palestinian journalists is what they do.


According to the UK’s National Union of Journalists, in 2009 the Israeli union let its membership of the IFJ lapse in protest “after failed attempts to resolve disputes over the IFJ’s repeated condemnation of Israeli attacks on the media”. It later rejoined.

I say: I’m most happy to hear that this fake Israeli “union” will effectively sanction and isolate itself by leaving the IFJ. I hope this time it follows through on the “threat” and stays out of the IFJ.

As an NUJ member, I call for my union to sever its links with this racist, anti-Palestinian Israeli trade union.


Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and co-host of our podcast.

He is author of the bestselling book Weaponising Anti-Semitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn (OR Books, 2023).