Corrupt State of Affairs at the International Federation of Journalists?

“The journalist shall be aware of the danger of discrimination being furthered by the media, and shall do the utmost to avoid facilitating such discrimination based on, among other things, race, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinions, and national or social origins,” declares the Declaration of Principles of the International Federation of Journalists, the world’s largest organization of journalists that represents 600,000 journalists in 140 countries.

One might imagine, then, that this organization that defends press freedom, truth and equality, would vigorously counter a boycott by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate of Israeli journalists, especially in a discriminatory campaign that endangers Israelis covering the West Bank by sending the message to Palestinian officials and journalists that the Israeli reporters are not welcome there.

That presumably should be the position of an organization which says it “promotes international action to defend press freedom and social justice,” but it is not. Far from condemning the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate’s boycott targeting Israelis, the International Federation of Journalists has come to the defense of Nasser Abu Baker, chairman of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate and the key prosecutor of the discriminatory campaign against Israelis. In fact, Abu Baker, who has threatened Palestinian officials who dare to speak with Israeli journalists, sits on the International Federation of Journalists’ executive committee.

Nasser Abu Baker (also spelled Abu Bakr) has also worked for years in the West Bank as a reporter for Agence France-Presse, an influential wire service which publishes in six languages. Following an exclusive exposé by CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) in early December about the inherent conflict of interest posed by Abu Baker’s participation in the Seventh Fatah Congress and his failed election bid to join the Fatah Revolutionary Council, the influential Agence France-Press last month slapped him with a week’s suspension and withheld his salary. Participation by journalists in political events, especially those they are covering, is a serious violation of Agence France-Presse’s commitment to “rigorous neutrality” and its pledge that it “is independent of the French government and all other economic or political interests.”

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