Last month Israel’s foreign ministry hosted a delegation of Moroccan, Lebanese, Syrian, Kurdish & Yemeni journalists. The first delegation of journalists from the Arab world to visit Israel in 2016 apparently included a representative from BBC Arabic.
“”The visit to Israel was exciting and unique. It is a shame that most people in the Arab world are still filled with blind hatred and prejudice toward Israel,” said G.M., an Iraqi journalist living in exile in Germany.
The four journalists, of Iraqi, Syrian, and Egyptian descent, write from Europe for a variety of Arabic-language news outlets, including Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Sky News, the BBC Arabic, Deutsche Welle Arabic, and Kitatbat.
They asked that their identities not be revealed because if it became known that they visited Israel, they would not only be risking their job, but also their lives.”
One of those journalists did however later write about his experiences in Israel.
The latest visit produced an angry reaction from the Palestinian Authority.
“The Palestinian Authority on Thursday denounced a visit by Arab journalists to Israel and called for punishing them to deter others from following suit. […]
…the PA said that the visit was aimed at “promoting normalization” between the Arabs and Israel. The Palestinians oppose other Arab nations establishing ties with Israel until a peace deal is signed with between Israel and the Palestinians.
The PA Ministry of Information denounced the visit of the Arab journalists and called on Arab media bodies to place them and the media outlets they work for on the Arab boycott “blacklist.”
It called on the Arab Journalists Union to take “punitive and deterring measures” against the journalists and their media outlets.”
Similar criticism was voiced by the Moroccan National Syndicate of Journalists and Morocco’s Minister of Culture and Communication.
While the BBC’s charity ‘Media Action’ claims to promote “media freedom and rights” and the BBC News website has a page devoted to the subject of “press freedom”, audiences have seen no coverage at all of the PA’s call to punish and blacklist journalists merely because they visited Israel.
As readers may recall the BBC was similarly silent when, in November 2016, Hamas condemned a group of Moroccan journalists who were hosted by the MFA.