May 1, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10584

Egyptian Journalist Criticizes Journalists Syndicate For Extending Ban On Normalization With Israel: 'This Decision Is Mistaken From The Professional, National And Legal Perspectives'

May 1, 2023
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 10584

On March 17, 2023, the general assembly of Egypt's Journalists Syndicate voted unanimously to extend the ban on normalization with Israel and the decision to investigate any syndicate member who commits "the crime of normalization," by means of personal action, professional action or on behalf of the syndicate. During the assembly participants chanted "down with Israel!" and "No to normalization with the Zionist entity."[1]

It should be notable that, although Israel and Egypt have been party to a peace agreement for more than four decades, the peace between them has remained cold and normalization between the two countries is limited. Furthermore, the Egyptian Writers' Union also prohibits normalization with Israel, and three well-known Egyptian authors were recently summoned for disciplinary proceedings after violating this prohibition, in advance of expelling them from the union.[2] 

The decision of the Journalists Syndicate to extend the ban on normalization did not garner much interest among the majority of Egyptian journalists. However, a conspicuous response was published by Egyptian journalist and politician Osama Al-Ghazali Harb, who fiercely condemned the decision in an article in the Egyptian Al-Ahram daily. Harb wrote that the decision was mistaken from the professional, national and legal perspectives, because that the Egyptian citizens should be aware of what is going on in Israel. The role of a journalist, he added, is to investigate and to inform the public about what is taking place in the world, especially in a neighboring country and rival such as Israel, which is also covered by journalists from other Arab countries, such as Jordan, the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco.

Convention of the general assembly of Egypt's Journalists Syndicate (Image:, March 17, 2023)

The following are translated excerpts from Harb's article:[3]

"Personally, I am totally against the decision passed by the general assembly of the Journalists Syndicate against normalization with the Zionist entity. In my opinion this decision is mistaken from the professional, national and legal perspectives, because a journalist is not an ordinary citizen, but a professional whose job is to seek information and verify [the truth about] incidents and events. This certainly applies to a neighboring country, and even more so when that country is a rival and a competitor.

"As an Egyptian citizen, I like to be informed about events in Israel. [In fact], there are journalists from all over the world in Israel, including from Arab countries that have normalized their relations with it, namely Jordan, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan, and of course Palestinian journalists. Some Arab channels have correspondents of their own in Israel. So why this professional laziness [of ours], disguised in eager and flowery rhetoric against the Zionist entity?

"In my assessment, this decision is wrong on the national level! Who is it that has an interest in hiding the events in Israel from the Egyptian people and the Egyptian citizen, as though Israel is covered in darkness, and thereby reviving the climate that existed before 1967, when knowing about Israel was taboo? Do you remember senior journalist Ahmed Bahaa Al-Din, who, after the Israeli aggression and the defeat of 1967, felt compelled to publish his famous book Isra'iliyyat[4] in order to explain Israel to the Egyptian people?

"This decision of the Journalists Syndicate is [also] wrong from the legal perspective, since no institution – be it a syndicate or any other body – may deny any citizen his legal right to visit Israel before any other [destination]!

"Finally, I inform my dear fellow journalists that, just for your information, more than 566,000 tourists passed through the Taba crossing [between Israel and Egypt] last year, 124,000 of whom visited Sharm Al-Sheikh and 54,000 of whom came to Cairo to tour its streets and enjoy its attractions!"[5]


[1],, March 17, 2023.

[2] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 10346, Egyptian Writers' Union Expels Three Members For 'Normalization With Israel', November 30, 2022.

[3] Al-Arham (Egypt), March 22, 2023.

[4] Isra'iliyyat are narratives regarding the Children of Israel, from various sources, which have been incorporated into the Islamic Hadith literature.

[5] Al-Ahram (Egypt), March 22, 2023.

Share this Report: