Arab Journalists Slam Algerian Colleagues’ Visit to Israel

Published June 27th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The Federation of Arab Journalists (FAJ) on Monday condemned the first visit to Israel by a group of Algerian journalists and called for them to be punished, reported AFP. 

The Cairo-based federation, which groups the journalists' unions of all Arab countries, branded the visit a "clear violation" of its resolutions outlawing normalization with Israel, said the agency. 

"We call for the punishment of all those violating the boycott," said a statement signed by the group's secretary general, Salaheddin Hafez, without specifying how they should be punished. 

"The FAJ secretariat general is confident that the vast majority of Algerians stand strongly in opposition" to calls for normalizing relations with the Jewish state, he said. 

Meanwhile, Israeli foreign minister, David Levy said it would be premature to describe the visit as a step toward the opening of diplomatic relations, said The Associated Press.  

“We can't talk yet about this. Algeria has to decide,” he told reporters.  

Algerian journalist Baya Gacemi, the Algiers correspondent for Paris magazine L'Express, said her meeting with Israeli Arab parliamentarian, Hashem Mahaeed, was a revelation.  

“It was an eye-opener for me to hear him say: 'I am an Israeli, but I am also an Arab, and I am struggling to be recognized as such.' I find that marvelous. It was the first time I had ever heard it said,” she told reporters afterward.  

“After this meeting, I have no regrets about having come - quite the contrary,” she added.  

“We are the generation that didn't see the Arab-Israeli wars - we want to know Israel's role and the way the Israelis work with different issues in the region,” said freelance journalist Hitham Rabani.  

Israeli lawmaker, Colette Avital, a former diplomat, also met the dozen-member group, which included a university professor, said the agency – (Several Sources) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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