The affair surrounding Edward Snowden, former employee of the United States National Security Agency (NSA) who leaked information about NSA surveillance programs, reminded me of a personal story from more than 30 years ago. In a stormy discussion that took place in the editorial board of the Israeli daily Haaretz, two high-level newspaper employees demanded the shelving of a report I had prepared about how Shin Bet investigators had abused a Palestinian journalist held under administrative detention. They claimed that publication of the article — which was based on a polygraph test — would wreak great damage to the status of the state of Israel. Editor-in-Chief Gershom Schocken ordered the publication of the article in its entirety and even reprimanded one of the higher-ups who had called for me to be dismissed from my post.
I recalled the incident when I listened to a key lecture of professor Daniel Bar-Tal at the International Society of Political Psychology Summer Academy that took place from July 4 to July 7 at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy, Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya; Bar-Tal won the organization’s most prestigious prize. For the first time, Bar-Tal released findings of studies revealing the dimensions of the self-censorship plague in Israeli society.