Skip to main content

The Israeli Press, Military Censorship, and 'Foreign Sources'

Israel enjoys freedom of press in all areas, except when it comes to military and security matters, which explains the proliferation of "foreign sources," writes Reuven Pedatzur.
An Israeli soldier atop a tank looks at air force fighter jets circling overhead an Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) staging area in the northern Gaza border November 21, 2012. Israeli air strikes shook the Gaza Strip and Palestinian rockets struck across the border as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held talks in Jerusalem in the early hours of Wednesday, seeking a truce that can hold back Israel's ground troops.  REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (ISRAEL - Tags: CONFLICT MILITARY POLITICS TRANSPORT TPX IMAGES O
Read in 

Did the Israeli air force strike in Syria or was it just a rumor? Israeli media consumers can't know what really happened on the Lebanese-Syrian border or at the "scientific installation" on the outskirts of Damascus. Whatever they read in the press, watched on TV or heard on the radio was based on "foreign sources." Israel is the only democracy in the world whose journalists are forced to take part in this preposterous charade known by the term "according to foreign sources." That's why we — the reporters — will tell you what we know, but we can't tell you that the information was elicited from our own sources. So we wink, stifle a smile and use that turn of phrase: according to foreign sources.

All of this is happening because Israel of the 21st century is still the only democracy in the world where censorship compels local media outlets to have any security-related article or information approved. Israel enjoys freedom of press in all areas, except when it comes to military and security matters.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.