26 February 2009

Atta Awisat, Daniel Seaman, what's up etc.

It's time for some diversity on this blog. Too much time and effort was invested here on subjects like Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iran and other external irritants, and why? After all, they are not going to disappear overnight, so why not lay off for a while? Why not dedicate some time to the internal issues? Where is, to take one example, our own esteemed director of GPO (Government Press Office), Daniel Seaman who was once a subject of some irritation here?

It is nice to be able to state in advance that everything's cool and that Danny is where he was back then, although Wiki notices that there was a minor detour:

He took a leave of absence from his post and announced his candidacy in the Likud party primaries for the 18th Knesset, but has since withdrawn his candidacy.
Which is a pity - being one of 120 could have reduced significantly the damage he is able to cause...

Anyhow, Danny is thriving in his post. Writing fiery articles blaming foreign press in all possible sins and wondering why Palestinian PR succeeds to win where his office is losing.

Showing his considerable muscle in a one man show against mighty Al Jazeera. It will learn them. Definitely.

Personally attending to ensure pro-Israeli coverage of Gaza events by Fox News. More about it later.

Topping all of the above by an unbelievable interview with a sympathetic JP journo:
Branding foreign journalists "spoiled crybabies" unwilling to make "a little effort" to get into Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, Government Press Office head Danny Seaman denied Sunday there had been any ban on their entry into the Strip during the battle.
So there was no ban, after all? Good, and then:
"There was no ban," Seaman declared, "Israel did not want to endanger the lives of the workers at the crossings so we didn't open them, not for humanitarian reasons and not for foreign journalists."
See now? There wasn't no ban, it is just that the gates were closed. Mmm... logical and simple. And the journo laps it up like a good boy. No questions, moreover he is quite helpful, notice the next quote:
"Those spoiled crybabies just didn't want to put a little effort in [to getting into Gaza]," he said "We never arrested anyone who went in, nor are we running after them now," which proves that it wasn't an actual Israeli policy.
Obviously Seaman sees foreign journalists as some kind of actors in a reality show. Lock them out and let's see how they get in on their own, illegally of course. Maybe they should have used Hamas' tunnels? And this dumbo of a reporter helpfully ads a conclusion: "which proves that it wasn't an actual Israeli policy ". But wait, there is more:
"In hindsight, next time we should make it[the ban] an actual policy. This week proves it. All of the reporters have been let in and they are accepting everything everyone says at face value. Maybe 3% are calling and asking for an Israeli response, or talking to the IDF spokesman. They are a fig leaf for Hamas.
Yep. In fact, it might be even better to lock them all up and throw away the keys. The beating should continue until morale improves and/or until they start calling the GPO for GPO's view on everything they write about. Until they learn to accept everything Daniel Seaman says as a gospel... oh boy, where does stupidity end? Not at the above quote, in any case. Because:
"Their coverage right now is a disgrace to the profession. Instead of reporting, they are settling scores. Reporting without both sides, without a context is an abuse of the profession," he declared.
I don't know, Danny might be right at that. Many of them (what the heck - most of them) may definitely be settling scores... with GPO in general and Daniel Seaman, its chief, in particular. But I'm sure that thought hasn't even started to consider the possibility of crossing the ravaged desert of this peculiar mind.

Oh, and I almost forgot: Danny is still diligently working on the endless corrections and amendments of his own Wiki entry. Under a moniker GiladRaz he edits the entry, mercilessly deleting anything that could be construed as criticism (just click on the tab that says "History" and enjoy). Consistently forgetting to throw out the sentence "During his tenure as GPO Director he has implemented several measures which have improved working conditions for foreign journalists in Israel." That makes him look kinda ridiculous, but who am I to advise a PR man on his own folly?

Well, let's not forget the other name in the header of this post. Atta Awisat - an employee of the largest Israeli newspaper "Yediot Achronot", an Arab, a good photographer. Here is a sample of his work:

There is a story related to this picture:
The best Israeli photographers must chose one picture each. The picture represents the country they are nostalgic about and they should explain why.
The picture above was chosen by Atta and here is his explanation why:
In this picture from a circus that took place in the Denmark High School in Jerusalem, Palestinians and Israelis built a pyramid of their hands. In the country I pine for Israelis and Palestinians, Christians, Muslims and Jews will live hand in hand, regardless of religion, gender and race.
Admirable sentiment any way you look at it, right? Especially coming from a person that, pursuing his duties as a reporter, has been beaten by police - and more than once. I cannot prove that the beating was more severe because he is an Arab - sometimes Jewish and foreign journalists get it in the neck just for standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Still...

But let's look at the next picture from Atta's portfolio, it has more relevance to this post:

I guess most of you recognize the character in the picture: our incumbent (for a few weeks more) PM Ehud Olmert. Even more important, at least for Atta, is the place where the picture was taken - the Knesset.

To take a picture like the one displayed above, Atta Awisat must have a press card - a piece of laminated plastic that looks like this:

The press card is a prerequisite for any journalist who dabs in political issues. It allows access to government offices, press briefings, West Bank (and Gaza, when Danny has a mind to allow access at all), diplomatic events, airport VIP lounges where heads of states and other big cheeses pass through, sites of terrorist attacks etc.

Lack of this card could cripple a career of a political journalist, but it definitely finishes a career of a political photographer. And, after almost 20 years of professional photography for various press outfits and carrying this card, Atta suddenly discovered (this January) that getting this card twentieth time could be a problem.

You see, issuance of the press card is conditioned by a security check performed by our GSS or Shin Bet, as it's popularly known. As other Yediot Achronot journalists and photographers, Atta has submitted a necessary form (probably even via Internet - it is all so high-tech today). But, unlike other, Jewish, journalists, Atta still hasn't got his card at the time he was used to every year. According to the linked article, Dalia Dorner, a retired judge and president of association of journalists, recommended to turn to the High Court of Justice. GPO's answer, meanwhile, is that they still haven't received a security clearance for Atta.

I must state that I was impressed by the response of Yediot Achronot folks who refused to pick up their own press cards until the case of Atta Awisat is resolved. Kudos to all.

In the next article from the same source there are no useful news. Neither Shin Bet nor GPO were much impressed by intervention of the PM's office director Raanan Dinur and by MK Chaim Oron. Shin Bet, as per its usual, does not respond to inquiries of this kind, and Daniel Seaman remains unavailable for comments on the subject.

Update: A few days ago I was told that Awisat eventually got his card. Happy end?

And I want to state it loud and clear: Atta Awisat is only one case of several other - Arab, Jewish and foreign correspondents that were denied a press card for being politically incorrect, for saying something less than complimentary to or about our Danny or just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Now back to that Fox News interview Danny so manfully carried out on the background of Gaza (I guess). There was a small (?) problem:

You can see that they've misspelled his last name. I am sure it's due to an anti-Zionist (or anti-Seaman, which is one and the same by now) elements in the ranks of Fox. And that strict measures, including (but not limited to) revocation of Fox people's press cards, cancellation of Fox contracts with Israeli cable and satellite TV networks and deportation of all related personnel, should be implemented immediately.

And make them squirm during the security checks at the airport!