The IFJ has pledged to stand in solidarity with journalist David Sheen, who is facing a defamation lawsuit from prominent Israeli general Israel Ziv.
The IFJ and its Palestinian affiliate, the PJS, have condemned the attempt to threaten and silence Sheen.
David Sheen is being sued for 750,000 Shekels (200,000 USD) for allegedly defaming Major General of the Israel Defence Forces (Reserves) Israel Ziv, who is also owner of Global CST, a security consultancy company. General Ziv’s suit is based on tweets made by Sheen labeling the general as an “arch-racist” and “war crimes whitewasher” after Sheen wrote an article for Palestinian online news publication Electronic Intifada titled ‘Ringleaders in Israel’s War against Africans’.
The article detailed Israeli broadcaster Ch2’s exposé of General Ziv and his colleagues at Global CST advising South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on rebuilding his damaged reputation following the UN’s revelation that Kiir allowed his soldiers to rape women and children. Global CST even proposed bringing a rape victim to the United Nations and having Kiir blame the assault on indigenous tribal practices. Sheen maintains that the tweets he made represent his opinions and are based on facts reported by Ch2, which Ziv made no attempt to deny.
David Sheen has lived and worked in Israel and Palestine since 2010, initially working as a reporter and editor at Haaretz before operating as a freelance journalist for the last 6 years, writing for local, national and international publications. Sheen writes regularly on racial and religious issues in Israeli society.
Sheen's supporters claim Ziv has decided to sue him personally because of his vulnerable position as an independent freelance journalist rather than pursuing a large organisation such as CH2 or Electronic Intifada. General Ziv has a history of attempting to silence journalists, including litigation threats against Hebrew website Local Call and the successful removal of 2 years of investigative reporting stories by Haaretz over his business activities in Equatorial Guinea and the Abkhazia region of northern Georgia.
Sheen has said “this is a classic case of a suit, intending to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition”.
Journalists are urged to sign a petition here to stand in solidarity with David Sheen.