The Daily(ish) Review

The Daily Review: Washington Post, filming Israeli soldiers

Read this Washington Post article over a cup of coffee. The coffee might have been a mistake. My apartment is really hot. I think I need a fan. If you're wondering, the coffee is a delicious blend of single origin Nescafe Clasico instant coffee. I'm kidding about the single origin. I don't know what the heck that means. The Clasico with one "s" sure makes it sound exotic, though. Drinking Nescafe instant coffee might get me expelled from Seattle. I don't mind it, though.

I picked this article by Ruth Eglash because I'm always suspicious of government efforts to restrict filming, photographing*, and reporting. Here's the opening. (Warning: The linked Washington Post article has graphic, violent footage in embedded tweets.)

"JERUSALEM — Recording or taking unauthorized pictures of Israeli soldiers clashing with Palestinians could soon bring criminal charges and penalties, if legislation proposed by members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hawkish coalition is enacted into law."

- Good opening. I feel like I have a good idea about the article's content and where it's headed. I'm not sure why the Post included "hawkish" here, though. I don't think it's inaccurate, but I'm not sure it fits here.

"On Sunday, the Israeli government endorsed the proposal, which seeks to criminalize the filming and/or distribution of images and video footage showing certain Israeli military operations — if the aim is “hurting a soldier’s spirit” or “harming national security.” A conviction for such crimes could carry prison terms of five to 10 years."

- Interesting to see that the Washington Post allows and/or. I'm sure some editors and writers cringe, but it sure is convenient sometimes.

- ...hurting a soldier's spirit... That seems vague enough to allow courts to do just about anything they want when reviewing cases.

- ...five to 10 years... In my old job our style/usage guide called for writing one through nine out and using numbers for 10 and above. I think I'd go for consistency, though. (Help, I'm buried deep in the weeds.)

"The legislation, which must be approved by parliament, appears to be an attempt by the government to curb left-wing organizations critical of Israel’s ongoing military occupation and its treatment of Palestinians. Many of the groups rely on amateur video footage to hold Israel accountable for its treatment of Palestinians."

- That is clearly secondary to ensuring that soldiers' spirits aren't hurt.

"In one such case, an Israeli soldier was caught on film fatally shooting an already neutralized Palestinian militant in Hebron."

- One can imagine the coordination this article required between the author and the editorial staff. These are difficult issues to write about, and you're guaranteed to anger someone. Look at some of the wording choices: fatally shooting, neutralized, militant

"Camelmacher said the legislation would not affect mainstream journalists working in the field, who often need prior approval to film military operations or have their material screened by a military censor."

- This should reassure journalists everywhere.

"Amit Gilutz, a spokesman for B’Tselem, one of the organizations identified as problematic in the bill, said the group was unperturbed by the legislation."

- Nice. You don't see unperturbed everyday. For some reason it reminded me of Commodus in Gladiator: "It vexes me. I'm terribly vexed." Can one be perturbed, or is the expression almost always used to express the absence or negation of perturbedness.

Verdict: Solid, quick article about a proposed law restricting photojournalism. I hope the law doesn't pass. If it does, I'm sure it will be used, but I doubt it will do what the proponents of the law want. Every person with a smartphone is a potential photojournalist equipped with a camera capable of video, stills, audio, and reporting. 

* photographing is a weird word on its own. I thought about deleting it and going with something else, like photography, but I'd already put the asterisk next to it. Seemed too late to turn back at that point.