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July 22, 1966 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1966-07-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Battle Over Freedom ® Press in Israell'id"' July 22, 1966

Ey ELIAHU SALPETER
(copyright, 1966 : JTA, Inc.)
JERUSALEM—In the first week
of July, the Israel government
gazetted regulations forbidding the
publication of information about
the discussions, decisions or even
of the fact that meetings were held
of the Cabinet subcommittee on
security affairs.
The regulations were issued, by
the approval of the appropriate
Knesset committee, under the
1957 State Secrets Act, which de-
fines state secrets as information of
obvious secret nature (a definition
vague enough by itself to raise
serious questions of legal princi-
ple) as well as "types of subjects"
declared as secret by the govern-
ment with the approval of the
Knesset Security Affairs Commit-
tee.
From a formal point of view,

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there was no infringement on the
principle of legality and democ-
racy. The government had authori-
ty to issue the regulations which,
moreover, were subject and re-
ceived approval of a parliamentary
body. In fact, however, the regu-
lations shocked Israel editors.
There were some legal experts who
questioned whether the regulations
actually conformed to the words
—and particularly to the spirit—
of the State Secrets Act. They
argued that the expression "types
of subjects" in the law refers to
the substance of the subjects and
not to the source of origin of the
information. Thus the government
can ban publication, for example,
of information pertaining to the
acquisition or development of new
weapons: but it cannot, they felt.
issue a blanket ban on all infor-
mation about, say, the military
establishment.
This difference is of funda-
mental importance for the future
of the freedom of the press
from both the aspect of principle
and its practical operation. It
restricts the right of a free
press, in a gross manner, to in-
form the public about a very
vital part of government activi-
ties affecting directly each and
every citizen of the country.
Also, it places an impossible
burden on the day to day work
of the press.
To take a hypothetical example,
a reporter obtains a story that
some technical faculties at a cer-
tain college will receive enlarged
budgetary support from the gov-
ernment, to enable them to train
a large number of- engineers. It
may turn out that this matter was
decided, after discussions, by the
Cabinet subcommittee on security
affairs because the military feels
it should be able to call on a
larger pool of engineering know-
how in the country. Technically, at
least, the reporter, the editor and
the publisher, whose paper printed
the story, could well be charged

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with a violation of the State Sec-
rets Act.
Violators are liable to imprison-
ment from seven years to life.
The new regulation also authorizes
the Military Press Censorship to
watch the implementation. Though
the government will probably argue
that this clause is for the benefit
of the press to protect them from
unintentional violations and lia-
bility to severe punishment (and
this argument is far from water-
tight since it presumes that the
paper knew that the story 'should
be checked with the Censor), it
certainly represents an extension
of press censorship.
The Israel press already is in
a most curious position. There is
unlimited freedom of the press for
papers who wish to print the vilest
and most unfounded accusations
or denunciations against the gov-
ernment. But the military censor-
ship often intervene against the .
publication of factual information
which editors feel is actually of
political nature but its disclosure
would be unpleasant to the govern-
ment, while the censor claims that
it would divulge intelligence in-
fringing on the security interest
of the country.
Observers predict that the new
regulations may well set the stage
for a major battle between the
government and the newspapers
over the question of the freedom
of the press in Israel.

British Govt. Rejects
Appeal for Protest to
Russia on Jews' Plight

(Direct JTA Teletype Wire

to The Jewish News)
LONDON—A spokesman for the
Labor government rejected Tues
day in the House of Commons an
appeal for direct representations
by the government to the Soviet
Union on the plight of Russian
Jewry.
The appeal was made by Sir
John Foster, a Conservative mem-
ber of Parliament, who said that
Soviet persecution of Jews had led
to the closing of Jewish schools
and of most of the synagogues in
the Soviet Union. He said the Brit-
ish government should make rep-
resentations to Soviet authorities
over these actions and also to urge
unification of Jewish families in
the USSR with their relatives in
Israel and elsewhere.
Replying for the government,
Mrs. Irene White, minister of
state at the foreign office, said
that the government had made
clear Britain's opposition to all
forms of racism, including anti-
Semitism, at the United Nations
and that the Soviet Union was
aware of the British views on the
issue.
She said that the government
had "every sympathy" for the
problems of Soviet Jewry but
that she hoped Sir John would
appreciate the fact that it was
"very difficult" to make offi-
cial bilateral representations to
another country on behalf of
people for whom the government
could not claim a direct inter-
est.
Sir Alec Douglas Home, opposi-
tion spokesman on foreign affairs
and former prime minister, told
the house that the opposition want-
ed action on the issue by the gov-
ernment: He said there were well-
documented lists of persecutions
against Soviet Jews and that this
"quite clearly" offended against
"every canon of human rights."
He said it was the duty of the
government, despite all conven-
tions, to make representations to
the Soviet Union. Mrs. White re-
plied that in the government's
opinion, it was proper to raise the
issue internationally, but that it
was "not proper" to make direct
bilaterial representations.

Hebrew U. Allocation
The Conference of Jewish Mat-
erial Claims Against Germany last
year allocated a total of 285,000
Israel pounds ($95,000) to the
Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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