Are the Palestinians Prepared for Peace?
Khaled abu Toameh, Israeli Arab, West Bank and Gaza correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, the US News and World Report
Mr. Abu Toameh asked not to be directly quoted so I’ll honour his request. He has a lot to lose.
Still, I don’t think he will mind me repeating this anecdote. It illustrates one of the major problems with foreign correspondents in Israel. The wording is largely my own.
A group of newsmen from one of the Scandinavian countries was prevented from entering Gaza during Operation Cast Lead as were everyone else. So they broadcast from the Israeli side of the border, as close as they were allowed. After reporting by remote control, as it were, about what was going on in Gaza, they finished by complaining the Israelis would not let them in to report what they actually witnessed.
They were astounded to be told there was another entrance to Gaza through Egypt. No one had ever informed them of this!
So they headed to Egypt where they were promptly detained and their equipment seized. The Egyptians were not impressed by their desire to help Egypt’s Arab brothers in their resistance.
In panic they called for help and advice. It was suggested they should report on what was happening to them. They had cell phones with video capacity and could have broadcast from a toilet out of hearing of the Egyptians.
They refused. “What, do you think this Israel”? “Who knows what the Egyptians might do to us”?
Fortunately for them, they didn’t have to find out and were released back to Israel after about twelve hours.
Back in the safety of Israel they refused again to act like newsmen. They wouldn’t tell their story because one day they might have to go again to Egypt!
Not because of press freedom but because of it Israel remains a whipping boy for the foreign press (and sometimes domestic).
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