Al-Jazeera Reporter Pleads Not to Revoke Credential

YERUSHALAYIM -
The Al-Jazeera office in Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

At a hearing over the impending cancellation of his journalist credentials, Al-Jazeera reporter Elias Karram said that he was “opposed to violence,” and that he supported “nonviolent resistance.” Taking away his credentials would make his job as a journalist much more difficult, as he would not have access to government events, security sites, and other sensitive areas, he told members of a government tribunal that held the hearing.

The Government Press Office said Tuesday that a final decision on Karram’s credentials had not yet been made, and the results of the hearing would impact on the decision. Even if Karram’s credentials are revoked, he is free to continue working for Al-Jazeera in Israel, as he is an Arab citizen of Israel, from Nazareth.

The hearing came after GPO head Nitzan Chen announced last week that Karram’s credentials would be revoked over comments he made in an interview with the Dar al-Amein satellite channel, in which Karram said that “journalism is an integral part of political and educational activity” in “occupied and violent areas. Journalists fulfill their role in the resistance with their pen, camera or voice, because they are part of the nation. They participate in the resistance in their own way.”

At the hearing, Karram said that he never advocated violence, and that there was no reason a reporter could not have a political opinion.

Chen said that the reporter’s remarks “pose a serious question as to the reporter’s ability to objectively cover the conflict in a professional manner, as he sees himself as part of the conflict. If he does see himself as part of the ‘Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation,’ as he himself put it, it is not clear how that could fit in with the universal values of objective journalism.”

Top Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu himself, have in recent weeks called for banning Al-Jazeera from broadcasting from Israel altogether. The Foreign Ministry has expressed its opposition to the move, saying that the damage would outdo the benefit. With the publicity generated from its ban, Al-Jazeera would be able to point to further “evidence” of “Israeli repression” of Palestinians.