Are Police Downplaying Threats against MK Ayman Odeh; Making Attempts at “Journalistic Balance”?

What follows is based on a blog that was first published in Hebrew by Haggai Matar on the “Local Call” website

When the head of the Joint List, Ayman Odeh, received a death threat on February 11, and Israeli police subsequently arrested a young settler, the law enforcement authorities curiously reissued a press release related to threats made against Avigdor Liberman from a month ago.

On Thursday at 1:56 p.m., the Jewish-Arab Hadash front published a report on its Arabic Facebook page, in which it claimed that a settler had been arrested for threatening the Hadash MK Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List.

Ayman Odeh minutes after he was elected to head the Hadash list in the March 2015 general elections for the 20th Knesset, Nazareth, January 17, 2015

Ayman Odeh minutes after he was elected to head the Hadash list in the March 2015 general elections for the 20th Knesset, Nazareth, January 17, 2015 (Photo: Activestills)

Strangely, the office of the police spokesperson, which issues several press releases via social media every day to keep the public informed of its work, did not publish a word on the reported threats against MK Odeh. When several journalists, including myself, asked the spokesperson for details on the suspect’s arrest, we all received the same answer: “Response to follow.” However, within two hours of the post by Hadash, instead of relating to the subject of our inquiry, the police spokesperson sent a message to reporters (parts of which also appeared on the Israeli Police Twitter account) announcing that a Palestinian who had threatened Avigdor Liberman had been indicted. Again, there was no public comment by the police spokesperson about the alleged threats against Ayman Odeh.

A closer look at what the spokesperson did publish revealed that the message related to threats against Liberman that were over a month old; that they had already been covered by the press; that the suspect had been arrested three weeks ago; and that he had been indicted the previous week. None of that prevented many of the general media outlets from republishing the threats against Liberman, based on the police spokesperson source.

Only on Friday, February 12, after I repeatedly asked for a clarification, did the police spokesperson send to me personally the following statement, rather than disseminate it to the public at large on its Twitter acount:

“There is indeed an investigation into threats made against MK Ayman Odeh in the Hebron area by the West Bank police, in the course of which an Israeli minor who resides in one of the settlements in Judea and Samaria was arrested, but was subsequently released with a number of court-ordered restrictions, including a restraining order. Meanwhile the investigation continues.”

Again, the above clarification was sent to me personally, was not published by the police spokesperson, nor did it appear on the police Twitter account.


Police Detain Far-Rightist: Made Death Threats against MK Odeh