March 20, 2005

Ha'aretz censored

Many thanks to Dave for pointing me in the direction of this article. Check the link in the headline. It's an article about an International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist's stuggle for justice over being shot in the face by an Israeli soldier in Jenin. The fact that an Israeli soldier would shoot an unarmed American doesn't surprise me. The killing of unarmed Palestinians had been a daily occurrence until very recently and Israeli soldiers have killed a BBC driver, a British UN worker, a British ISM activist (Tom Hurndall), an American ISM activist (Rachel Corrie), a British cameraman (James Miller) and many other witnesses to their war crimes. What surprises me is that the full article has been cut in the English edition of Ha'aretz. Apparently the censorship of English versions of events is more stringent than that of Hebrew versions. I have posted the article in full here but this is the passage that was cut from the English version:
The Dept of Health Refrains

Brian Avery’s ability to sue the Israeli government depends on his obtaining a medical opinion evaluating his present condition. This has not been a simple matter, even though Avery was willing to pay for the service. As Bilha Golan of Physicians for Human Rights relates, ‘We contacted Dr. Zvi Ben-Ishai from Rambam Hospital and doctors from government hospitals, all of whom informed us that they could not furnish a medical opinion to be used in a suit against the government.

The Department of Health explains that doctors who are government employees are prohibited from furnishing professional medical opinion that is to be used as testimony in suits against the government. A Department of Health Committee and representatives of the State Attorney can permit such opinions in exceptional cases. Dr. Zvi Ben-Ishai, Assistant Director of the government hospital in which Avery was hospitalized and treated, confirms that he was requested to furnish his professional opinion about Avery’s present condition. "I told them that because of the Health Department prohibition, I need to send the request for the opinion to the legal advisor of the department, but then they decided instead to turn to someone else."

"Isn’t this a Bolshevik order?"

"In reality it is, but formally it is not."

Bilha Golan says that the next appeal was to Professor Menachem Wexler from the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, who met Brian and listened to the details about his injury, and who took x-rays and interviewed Brian. Then, when Prof. Wexler read in the referral letter that Brian was injured by Israeli forces, Wexler told Brian to go to the office to get back his money for the referral. Wexler told Brian’s lawyer, Shlomo Lecker, that it was inconvenient for him to give an opinion. Hadassah confirms this.

Avery is still waiting for some Israeli official to kindly consent to
meet with him, and to explain to him what happened and perhaps even to apologize.
Ha'aretz is one of the more reliable sources of information on Israel/Palestine but it seems if really want to know what's going on via the media we have to "watch this space." We also have to wonder why Israeli censors trust Hebrew speakers with embarrassing information that they don't trust non-Hebrew speakers with.

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