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Israel’s Plague of Self-Censorship

A series of new academic studies reveals that the self-silencing and mouth-muzzling phenomenon regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has turned into an Israeli plague.
The Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu stands in front of separation wall during a protest against controversial Israeli security barrier in East Jerusalem.  The Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu who was freed from prison in April stands in front of the separation wall during a protest against the controversial Israeli security barrier in East Jerusalem August 27, 2004. The grandson of Mahatma Gandhi told Palestinian protesters at Israel's West Bank barrier on Friday that the wall r
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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.

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