7 June 2009 the IFJ Executive Committee at its meeting in Oslo, Norway,
agreed unanimously to expel the National Federation of Israel Journalists from
membership of the IFJ. The IFJ wrote to the NFIJ confirming the decision and
offering them the opportunity to appeal the decision which can be heard at the
Congress of the IFJ in Spain
in May 2010.
A Financial Decision, not a Political
decision to expel the NFIJ was based upon financial matters alone. There was no
political element in the decision. It was taken unanimously.
NFIJ has not paid any fees to the IFJ for more than five years. (The last
payment made was on 26 April 2004.) The IFJ systematically warns all unions
more than three years in debt for non-payment of fees of the danger of
expulsion if fees are not paid.
Israeli union was offered a generous deal - to waive the debt for the last
three years and to pay normal fees for 2009, but they refused.
offered no payment towards the debt and said they would only pay the equivalent
of a "third world" fee (available only to the poorest countries) which is a
quarter of the normal amount. Lower fees are paid by unions in countries
classified below United Nations poverty indicators. Israel
is one of the richest countries in the region with the highest average living
standards in the Middle East.
Executive Committee had no choice but to expel them in these circumstances.
IFJ has applied its rules regarding fees fairly in this case. The financial
management rules are transparent and well known. In recent years unions from France, Serbia,
Kenya, Thailand, Korea,
Hungary and Georgia are
among those expelled for non-payment of fees.
NFIJ Complaints over IFJ Actions
NFIJ has registered complaints with the IFJ over its criticism of the state of Israel,
particularly on matters related to military attacks on media and free movement
IFJ has publicly criticised Israel
for military strikes against unarmed media installations in Lebanon, Gaza and
the West Bank. It has made similarly
criticisms of NATO (attack on Serbian television in 1999) and on the United States (attacks on media during the Iraq war 2003.)
statements have consistently pointed out that such military action against
media is in violation of international law. Similarly protests have been made
by other press freedom advocacy groups.
NFIJ also complained about the failure to consult them on the mission the IFJ
carried out to Gaza
in January 2009 which led to a report making a number of criticisms of the
Israeli government including attacks on media and restrictions on the free
movement of journalists.
response to that on 13 February 2009 the IFJ issued a Press release - IFJ Defending Journalists in Palestine and
Israel - which stated:
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has reaffirmed its commitment to
defend the interests of journalists in Palestine and Israel in response to concerns
expressed by its affiliate the National Federation of Israeli Journalists
(NFIJ) that recent actions in carrying out a mission to Gaza and IFJ statements
over the crisis have not adequately taken account of the views of journalists
The IFJ says that the emergency mission to Gaza was primarily focused on the conditions
and circumstances of Palestinian journalists and media and was not designed or
intended to examine the situation in Israeli journalism.
The IFJ recognises that Israeli journalists have sought to report the crisis
fairly under difficult conditions - they, too, were victims of the media
blockade imposed by Israel which restricted foreign media access to Gaza during
the conflict. The actions of the Jerusalem-based Foreign Press Association
which successfully challenged this blockade in the Israeli courts were also
supported by many journalists in Israel.
The IFJ, says General Secretary Aidan White,
"Staunchly defends the role of its affiliate in Israel as an independent voice of
professional journalists in Israeli society and has publicly and robustly
repudiated attempt in some quarters to link the NFIJ with the actions of the
The IFJ remains committed to building working links between journalists in Israel and Palestine
in defence of free and independent journalism and will continue to oppose and
condemn military strikes against unarmed media installations, regardless of who
carries them out. It will challenge all groups, whether in Gaza and the West Bank
and in Israel
itself, when they intimidate or threaten journalists.
The IFJ Supports Israeli Journalists:
IFJ regrets the decision of the NFIJ not to reach a reasonable compromise on
the payment of fees and says it will still support Israeli journalists. The
IFJ's good faith in its relations with the NFIJ is borne out by the efforts
made by the IFJ to maintain its relations with the NFIJ:
- The IFJ sent three missions to Israel in recent years;
- The General Secretary has visited the NFIJ to discuss relations and financial matters three times;
- The IFJ invited the NFIJ to participate in its European section;
- The IFJ has offered to support solidarity actions inside Israel in support of journalists and the promotion of ethical journalism.
IFJ remains committed to promotion of solidarity and support for journalists
fighting for their rights in Israel.
We will welcome the NFIJ back into membership at the earliest opportunity when
they are ready to pay their fees in line with the IFJ Constitution.
Information and comments from IFJ General Secretary on +32 478258669 or
Communications Officer on +32 2 235 2207