February 22, 2007

Interviewed by The Jerusalem Post

Ellis Weintraub at The Jerusalem Post interviewed me over the weekend.

Here's a short excerpt:
You have traveled in Palestinian refugee camps and the territories, yet your writings come across as fair and at times even pro-Israel. What are your ideological views?

I'm an American, so I think in American political terms. Within the American political system I'm basically a centrist. I vote for both Democratic and Republican candidates and suspect I will do so for a very long time. Each party gets some things right and some things wrong.

A huge majority of Americans support Israel. I'm right in the mainstream when it comes to Israel, even though I often disagree with what Israel does. I thought the invasion of Lebanon was foolish, counterproductive, and a waste of money and lives in both Lebanon and Israel. But I sympathize with what Israel was trying to do, and of course with Israel's right to exist and defend itself. So my criticism wasn't the shrieking axe-grinding kind that I'm sure you're all too familiar with. If Israel would have clearly won the war last summer I would have changed my mind, admitted I was wrong, and supported it in hindsight.
You can read the whole thing here.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at February 22, 2007 12:45 AM

Comments

So if Israel has won it was right to do what they did but since they lost you disagree. I'm thinking of how they used to judge witches. As always your indept analysis of Lebanon stopped as soon as you got off the plane.

"They're thugs" is how you describe Hezballah leaders. For sure a pulitzer is on its way to MT.

Posted by: Macdara at February 22, 2007 02:07 AM

I'm thinking of how they used to judge witches

Think harder.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 22, 2007 02:23 AM

Seriously, MacDara, what's hard to figure out here? If Hezbollah were actually defeated there would be none of this crap going on in Lebanon right now and no threat of civil war. Israel would have accomplished something -- they would have implemented UN Security Council Resolution 1559 and restored Lebanon's sovereignty. This would be, you know, a good thing. And worth supporting.

Instead lots of people died for nothing and Lebanon is f*cked, which is pretty much what I expected would happen. I'm not going to get behind that.

"They're thugs" is how you describe Hezballah leaders

And? You have a problem with that? They're an illegal militia. They threatened to kill me. They bullied my colleague because they thought he was a Jew. They started a stupid war and are preparing to do it again. If you think this behavior isn't thuggish then what do you think is thuggish?

Points are deducted for answering "the Zionist Entity."

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 22, 2007 02:34 AM

Name calling is about as useful as pissing on a forest fire. I have no love for either side to last year’s war as both were wrong. Hezballah were wrong for triggering it and firing rockets into Civilian areas and Israel were wrong for attacking a sovereign country and destroying its infrastructure for what they them selves labelled a terrorist act.

Israel can’t defeat Hezballah any more than anyone else can destroy Israel. Hezballah have the support of the majority of Shiites in Lebanon. That’s a fact whether You, me or Bush likes it and unless someone is willing to kill every last Shiite in Lebanon you cannot defeat them. Negotiating is the only way forward as Syria and Israel were starting to do last summer.

As to whether their tactics are thuggish or whether they bully someone maybe they do but on my last entry to the Israel and Occupied Territories I was held for Six hours, Questioned repeatedly with my wife, not given any explanations, not offered any refreshments all because I was Irish and Lived in Lebanon. Thank god I was not Palestinian.

Before you say otherwise I do support a Two nation solution and have nothing but respect for ordinary Israeli’s ( Except settlers)

Posted by: MacDara at February 22, 2007 02:59 AM

Loved the "Think Harder" response.

Good JP interview; adds another dimension to the blog; objective, detailed, and clearly states where your frame of reference is.

Posted by: Ron Snyder at February 22, 2007 03:49 AM

good interview, i've signed up to your blog.

Posted by: ben g at February 22, 2007 06:08 AM

MacDara,

"Hezballah were wrong for triggering it and firing rockets into Civilian areas"

True.

"Israel were wrong for attacking a sovereign country and destroying its infrastructure for what they them selves labelled a terrorist act"

To your opinion what would be appropriate response?

"Israel can’t defeat Hezballah any more than anyone else can destroy Israel"

True. But Lebanese can and I do not think Hezballah is threat to Israel any longer.

"Hezballah have the support of the majority of Shiites in Lebanon. That’s a fact ... unless someone is willing to kill every last Shiite in Lebanon you cannot defeat them."

No, nobody I know wants that.

"Negotiating is the only way forward as Syria and Israel were starting to do last summer."

Lebanon has government, which is not only responsible for negotiations with other countries it also responsible for keeping their citizens from starting wars. For six years Hezballah was flexing its muscles and threatening Israel and rest of Lebanon was cheering it on. How do you think it all would end?

"As to whether their tactics are thuggish or whether they bully someone maybe they do but on my last entry to the Israel and Occupied Territories I was held for Six hours, Questioned repeatedly with my wife, not given any explanations, not offered any refreshments"

Recently my friend with his family had to spend 16!!! hours in JFK before he was able to depart with JetBlue. Even though he and his family weren't questioned, refreshments and food weren't offered in first 6 hours. On the serious note, how do you explain this Israeli behavior? Any ideas?

Posted by: leo at February 22, 2007 06:59 AM

"They're thugs" is how you describe Hezballah leaders.

If you don't like it when Hezbollah leaders are called thugs, they could also be called blood diamond merchants, an illicit finance network, an organization of extortionists, Iran's strategic arm, a militia whose weapons are classified as 'illegal' by most states around the world, or cigarette smugglers.

Negotiating is the only way forward as Syria and Israel were starting to do last summer.

Negotiating with thugs is never a good policy

Posted by: mary at February 22, 2007 08:43 AM

MacDara: As to whether their tactics are thuggish or whether they bully someone maybe they do but on my last entry to the Israel and Occupied Territories I was held for Six hours, Questioned repeatedly with my wife, not given any explanations, not offered any refreshments all because I was Irish and Lived in Lebanon.

I was held for five hours and rudely interrogated in Israel, given no food (etc) because I am an American who had Lebanon stamps in my passport. I was pissed off, but this was a LOT less scary than being detained by Hezbollah. It wasn't scary at all, in fact, it was just annoying and rude. The Israelis could have spent two minutes Googling me and figured out that I wasn't a threat to them. I politely asked them to do it, and they refused.

They did Google me last time I went there and it shortened the interrogation process from five hours to ten minutes.

The Israelis certainly didn't threaten to kill me, nor is Death to America one of their slogans.

I have no choice, really, but to prefer Israel over Hezbollah even though Israel didn't respond to this problem the right way. I'm not saying they're perfect, I'm saying they're preferable.

Negotiating with Hezbollah and Syria would be a good idea if Hezbollah and Syria wanted to resolve this conflict peacefully and in good faith. But it should be obvious by now that they aren't interested. This problem is far too big (international) and complicated to be resolved by talks or invasions of Lebanon.

Name calling is about as useful as pissing on a forest fire.

So is telling me my analysis stopped when I got off the airplane.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 22, 2007 11:19 AM

Macdara,

Is there NO reason whatsoever, in your mind, why Israel treated you and others that way? Any idea what just happened yesterday in Israel?

Michael,

Given that israelis have been overwhelmed with murderous risks from all directions for their entire life of the state and each time they do something positive, the risk increases rather than decreases, one can excuse that they did not google everytime they perceive a risk. Inconvenience is a small price to pay in the circumstances, something which you seem to admit.

Posted by: fp at February 22, 2007 12:19 PM

fp,

Israel should have Googled me and MacDara, not (only) to be polite but to be efficient. They would learn a lot about us by Googling -- especially me because I am a journalist with a track record not just a blog.

They would be wise to spend those hours on bad guys rather than on me. They only have so many human resources to spend looking for terrorists, and it's a waste of time to detain friends and allies for five hours.

Somebody in that airport apparently agrees because last time I was there they processed me properly without wasting time and energy. And on that trip I came directly from Lebanon, unlike the time they detained me for too long.

A friend of mine from the US military was with me when they detained me. I warned him about Israeli airport stupidity and he thought I was over-reacting. His response was identical to yours. That was until AFTER he was also held for five hours and treated rudely. The fact that he is a member of the United States military did not stop them from treating him like a terrorist.

He no longer agrees with you now that he has experienced the Ben Gurion Airport Regime for himself. He concurs with me that Israeli airport security needs an overhaul. He posts in these comments sometimes. Perhaps he will say hi.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 22, 2007 12:47 PM

I understand Syria's objective: they need an external enemy and they have dreams of a "Greater Syria" that encompasses Israel and Lebanon. But what's Iran's motivation? It's not like they can get any territory out of it. They don't even have a border with Lebanon.

Posted by: Joe in Australia at February 22, 2007 12:59 PM

Iran wants to be, and sort of already is, a regional superpower. South Lebanon is their "base" on the Mediterranean.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 22, 2007 01:05 PM

Well done!
Drop me a line sometime, will ya!
Lindsey

Posted by: lindsey at February 22, 2007 01:18 PM

Michael:

But isn't it more than that? Support for Hezbollah in the summer war with Israel had provided Iran with street cred with many Muslims and the vast majoirty of Arabs (whether Sunni or Shia). They seem to have squandered some of this with other aggressive moves. Neverthe less, isn't Iran's strategy that supporting Hezbollah in a never ending conflict with Israel raises its prestige among non-Persian Muslims that might be wary of Persian power and influence in both the region and in the broader Muslim world?

Posted by: Mark-In-Chi-Town at February 22, 2007 01:26 PM

isn't Iran's strategy that supporting Hezbollah in a never ending conflict with Israel raises its prestige among non-Persian Muslims that might be wary of Persian power and influence in both the region and in the broader Muslim world?

Without a doubt.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 22, 2007 01:35 PM

After 9/11 two israeli friends, who traveld in U.S, arrested for two weeks...the fact that they were been israelis hasn't change anything...
It wasn't 5 hours, it was two weeks.

The gurds in the jail had told the other prisoners that these israelis are the planner of the 911 attack...only after two weeks someone notice that they are just tourists.

Now think on this 9/11 situation every day in the israeli life...can you understand them?

Posted by: alon at February 22, 2007 02:19 PM

Michael,

Well, you know, being overstretched to guarantee the lives of its citizens, I would not hold them too much to efficiency of processing. Yes, it would be better if they were efficient, but I understand why they are not. In 9 out of 10 cases they will be denounced no matter what they do.

Those who know the israeli circumstances understand (as you do); the Macdaras of the world probably won't, no matter what.

It is not unusual for americans to ignore problems until and unless it happens to them personally, nothing new there. I am not as fast to change my mind just because something happens to me.

But hey, I am on record about israeli incompetence. I think they should get their act together. But I doubt that they will in the circumstances they find themselves.

Posted by: fp at February 22, 2007 03:33 PM

Fp sorry I dont know where you are from or where you are coming from But as an Irish person I can understand that I should be treated civilly when using an Irish passport. I have no problem being questioned at a boarder but it should be as an innocent person not someone that is a criminal because of where they live. My country has supported Israel since its foundation; one of the founders was Irish and a former president of Israel.

Before you preach about me not understanding what they have gone through maybe you should understand that they sometimes inflict on others what has previously been inflicted on them.

Nobody has a monopoly on being right all the time.

Posted by: Macdara at February 22, 2007 04:53 PM

as an Irish person I can understand that I should be treated civilly when using an Irish passport.

I also expect to be treated with civility when I use an American passport to visit an American allied country. I'll note, though, that I have entered Israel four times and was only treated badly once. I don't mind being checked out briefly, but five hours of hostile interrogation is over the top.

My worst border experiences have been in Israel and Canada. My best border experiences have been in the European Union, Lebanon, Iraq, and -- oddly enough -- Libya.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 22, 2007 05:19 PM

The gurds in the jail had told the other prisoners that these israelis are the planner of the 911 attack...only after two weeks someone notice that they are just tourists.

I have a hard time believing this story. It doesn't pass the smell test. If this story is true it is a lot more complicated that you made it sound. They were arrested for some reason, even if it was a stupid and paranoid reason.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 22, 2007 05:24 PM

I agree that Israel can be a bit, well, bureaucratic when it comes to airport security. But their hyper-sensitivity is not without reason. In 1986 Nizar Hindawi, a Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship, planted a bomb on an El Al flight to Tel Aviv in the luggage of his pregnant Irish fiancé, who had departed from Heathrow.

Pregnant Irish girl leaving from Heathrow to Tel-Aviv, sounds innocent, no?

Posted by: Zak at February 22, 2007 06:07 PM

MacDara,

I sympathize with your experience and I am sure I would be as pissed off as you are had it happened to me.

How about rest of your trip to Israel?

Posted by: leo at February 22, 2007 06:46 PM

Zak,

If the US were to experience the scope of terror targetting that Israel is, let's see how efficient they will be.

Last time I looked, people sat in a plane for 7hrs without any security threat. And that was a private company, not the govt.

My guess is that in the face of equivalent security threats in the US, the same people who complain about inefficiencies would also be the ones accusing the govt for not doing enough to prevent terrorism when an attack occurred.

The west is simply incapable of comprehending what Israel must do to protect itself.

Macdara,

Are you suggesting that because your country supports Israel (and I DK the details), that everybody from that country should never be checked?

The ME was never known for politeness and efficiency. Among ME countries Israel is hardly the least efficient, and yet, like on every other aspect, the focus is always on Israel, who at least has good reasons. We don't hear about much worse situations in the rest of the ME.

Why do you think that is?

Posted by: fp at February 22, 2007 07:08 PM

Among ME countries Israel is hardly the least efficient, and yet, like on every other aspect, the focus is always on Israel, who at least has good reasons. We don't hear about much worse situations in the rest of the ME. Why do you think that is?

ummmm...I know! I know! because they bust and torture bloggers who dare complain about their interrogation 'procedures'!

Rudest and most intrusive airport screening I ever had was in Eugene Oregon, and it was a goosing shy of a strip search. My name was 'randomly selected' they told me. I later decided the fact that the place was totally fogbound and they were bored gave them the idea to brush up their procedures on one of the few waiting passengers.

I had two Israeli airport screenings, and both were polite enough, but incredibly nosy. Each lasted about twenty minutes, and I nearly missed my small plane because of one (three other people being similarly grilled did miss theirs) -- the retired IDF general hollering at them to hurry up did no good (although it did net a back-up flight.)

Why? For me, two things: a single female traveler is considered moderately high risk, American or not, and I had travelled to the north solo for a few days before meeting up with a group. One woman had been US military and State Dept, and it was the Lebanon and Tunisia passport stamps for her. And so on.

MJT, even if they google you, they are still not going to believe who you are or trust you until they see it for themselves. Perhaps they want to be sure someone like you with many scattered Arab friends wasn't a pregnant Irish mule, so to speak. That's no excuse for rude, but maybe they were trained in Oregon. (jk!)

Posted by: Pam at February 22, 2007 07:59 PM

My guess is that Macdara and MJT were profiled not necessarily as security threats, but as anti-Israel activists, ISMers, or what have you, and that it is the policy of the border authorities to give such people every discouragement from entering the country.

Posted by: MarkC at February 22, 2007 08:39 PM

Michael, can you believe now?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcON2XbFR3I&NR

Posted by: alon at February 22, 2007 10:21 PM

My guess is that Macdara and MJT were profiled not necessarily as security threats, but as anti-Israel activists, ISMers, or what have you, and that it is the policy of the border authorities to give such people every discouragement from entering the country.

That occurred to me, too.

I dread entering Israel two weeks in advance because of what goes on in that airport. I don't feel that way about any other airport in the world.

Sorry for saying this because I like Israel and Israelis a lot. That airport regime, though, can be the worst arrival experience ever. And I say that as someone who has been inside full-bore totalitarian states.

Israelis single out journalists, too, which is dumb. If they want good press, don't make journalists dread entering Israel for weeks in advance. It's bad PR. Be nice to people who write about you for a living.

File this under "constructive criticism." If I feel this way as a pro-Israeli American, how do you think Robert Fisk feels about his "Welcome to Israel" experience?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 22, 2007 10:24 PM

Posted here due to my uncertainty as to whether the older links' comments sections are regularly checked.

Gosh, I just found this Blog. I'm taken away by it. Mr. Totten, I'm so glad that I did! I'm a young, liberal (yeah, I said it) Jew, married to a Lebanese Sunni. Happily married for (almost) five years now, actually... I was catching up on the events (news-wise) in Lebanon since the memorial (?) for Mr. Hariri last week and by a link - within - a - link, I believe, I happened across you. Obviously, I'm torn in my loyalties to either Lebanon, entirely (not Hezbollah, mind you, I know just where I stand with them bastards) or Israel, especially last summer... I felt nothing but the deepest sympathy for the Innocents lost there, and frustration and disappointment for what I felt was Israel's overreaction and demonstration of power. (No, I'm not the clichéd, self-loathing Jew; I'm in love with someone who helps me to widen my perspective.) My loyalty to Israel is unquestionable, however I feel you must kill the serpent by the head, rather than its tail.

I digress.

Thank you so much for the reading material and alternate perspective. I enjoyed the banter here immensely, as well; and though the jury may still be out on whether or not "fp" is a scientist, and though I don't always agree with his choice in vocabulary, I do very much enjoy his contribution as well.

All the best to the room (board?) and especially to Mr. Totten. You've just, single - handedly, replaced my former favorite Blog.

See ya'll 'round, now.

Cameron
Austin, Texas - (an oasis of "blue" in a sea of "red)

Posted by: RealChutzpa at February 22, 2007 10:52 PM

Thank you for that, Cameron.

I, too, was horribly torn during that war in July, and it must have been so much worse for you.

How did your Sunni wife feel about it? Is she from Lebanon, or was she born in the US?

Lebanon haunts those who leave it -- including me and I'm not even Lebanese. It is such an intense place in so many ways, instensely wonderful and beautiful and broken and tragic at the same time.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 22, 2007 11:39 PM

My Husband, ahem - was granted "Political Asylum" from the country of Lebanon for reasons I'd rather not discuss on your board - with absolutely no disrespect intended.

He was born and raised in Tripoli, attended school there for a short while and then sought an education that would place any amount of distance from home. After a short while in the University of Sydney, Australia, he relocated to Texas by way of college transfer, once the Student Visa was granted. After a year or so, we met on campus at the university bookstore and have been together, inseparably, ever since.

I assisted in the "midnight escape" from an unbelievably orthodox Islamic family, who pursued us the entire way with threats of family "Honor Killings" from brothers who chased us all the way from Lebanon.

The U.S. State Department, and then the Department of Homeland Security and the I.N.S. all assisted immeasurably in our safety. Political Asylum was granted after a lengthy and exhausting court battle, and we've been happily together ever since, even having exploited the opportunity to have our more-official wedding ceremony (though we already had a private ceremony at home the previous year) in a northern state, three years ago.

Obviously, neither of us are very extreme in our religious or political viewpoints and are always willing to listen, open our mind and learn what someone else is thinking and feeling. That's why I referred to myself as a Liberal, because it's difficult to refer to yourself as anything less, under our unique circumstances... regardless of your opinion on any of the various polarizing political wedge - issues.

I have attached an RSS Feed to both our email accounts, as I'm sure we'll both be interested in reading your further writings. We've already discussed you and read many of your postings in the past few hours...

It isn't easy living the life you live. All you can do is make the best of it, see the light and always strive for happiness.

Clichéd? Perhaps. However, we feel we're very successful in all aspects of our odd and unusual life.

Respectfully,

Cameron
Austin, TX

Posted by: RealChutzpa at February 23, 2007 12:36 AM

Unfortunately we had only allowed ourselves three days in Israel and the Occupied Territories we were on a holiday in Jordan and crossed over the land boarder. We stayed in the old city near king David’s tower. Jerusalem is very like Damascus and if you have the chance to visit both you will see that both are wonderful places.

I enjoyed my time there however entering Bethlehem is not a nice experience nor is travelling by bus back to Jerusalem as during the Twenty minute journey we were stopped three times by security, the way the average Palestinian is treated does not make you sympathise with Israeli security.

The normal Israelis we met were very pleasant and also very like their Arab cousins. Friendly, Hospitable and informative. Everyone in Israel seems to be carrying weapons which is off putting especially the kids who walk around with guns strapped over their backs.

All in all a place worth seeing but given the recent war I don’t think I will be able to go back for a while. I’ll wait for a new passport with no Lebanese stamps.

Posted by: MacDara at February 23, 2007 12:52 AM

Thanks for that, Cameron. Sorry about the gender screw up. I was thinking Cameron is a man's name, but now I remember it can be either.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 23, 2007 01:34 AM

Eh, happens all the time.

Thanks, Mr. Totten.

Cameron
Austin, TX

Posted by: RealChutzpa at February 23, 2007 03:01 AM

Thank you MacDara for your answer.

I also wish people could go anywhere without problems. I am sure it will eventually happen even in ME.

In the mean time I hear rumors that Syria is moving big number of its military forces closer to Israel's border and they just stepped up their anti-Israel rhetoric through their mass-media.
I sincerely hope it is just a bluff. I hope it is just Assad's attempt to remind everyone that he is still relevant.

Posted by: leo at February 23, 2007 05:47 AM

Somewhat off-topic, but this most recent mention of an oft-mentioned item piqued my curiosity:

When you say Hezbollah "threatened to kill [you]", are you referring to their PR head saying "we know where you live", or is there more to the story?

Posted by: Naha at February 23, 2007 06:55 AM

MJT,

I also expect to be treated with civility when I use an American passport to visit an American allied country.

You should complain to Adam Shapiro, Huwaida Arraf, and George Rishmawi ("When Palestinians get shot by Israeli soldiers, no one is interested anymore," Rishmawi said. "But if some of these foreign volunteers get shot or even killed, then the international media will sit up and take notice.") then, and not Israeli security - about that.

An American passport - mine, yours or anyone else's - is no longer a golden "no hassle" pass at Ben Gurion - nor should it be.

There are lots of ill intentioned Americans.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at February 23, 2007 08:17 AM

I should add that it's very unfortunate that an American passport doesn't guarantee an easy time at Ben Gurion. I wish it did.

But some prize idiots have spoiled the notion that we Americans should just be able to sail through every time.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at February 23, 2007 08:26 AM

If I feel this way as a pro-Israeli American, how do you think Robert Fisk feels about his "Welcome to Israel" experience?

I don't know. He seemed pretty cool with his "Welcome to Pakistan" ("If I had been them, I would have attacked me") experience.

He might not be the best example.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at February 23, 2007 08:55 AM

When journalists prove themselves unable to distinguish between legitimate acts of self defense and the actions of a terrorist militia I'd be questioning them too.

The Time blog today finds no difference between the actions of Israel and Hezbollah.

http://time-blog.com/middle_east/2007/02/construction_worker_terrorists.html

Pathetic.

Posted by: mertel at February 23, 2007 09:04 AM

MacDara wrote:

"...and Israel were wrong for attacking a sovereign country and destroying its infrastructure for what they them selves labelled a terrorist act."

See, that's the whole problemm - an actually sovereign country would not permit unsanctioned mass terror attacks to be launched from its territory, which is part of why Lebannon, unfortunately, is not a sovereign country. It's government does not have a domestic monopoly on organized violence and heavy weaponry, and it only exists at the sufferance of Syria (see Finland throughout the Cold War). How do you deal with such a failed or pseudo state (and the so-clalled non-state actors that inhabit it) when it becomes the launching pad for mass-terror attacks?

As the summer war showed, you cannot just attack Hezb'Allah without also hitting Lebanese infrastructure, since the two are inexorably intertwined. You can't call the Lebanese Ambassador to Jersusalem (snicker) on the carpet and hold him and his government to account for the actions of its citizens. So what do you do - suck it up? For how long (ie how many deaths and kidknappings)? Talking seems to produce nothing but CO2 and more attacks - and the "government" of Lebannon, such as it is, can't cut a deal even if it wants to. Full-scale invasion and occupation doesn't seem too attractive (or workable), so what is left? Seriously, I'm out of ideas here, just like Israel was and is.

Fact of the matter is, if Hezb'Allah is not extirpated, or at least dissarmed, Lebannon is going to get another, even more severe, thrashing in the near future - probably from an Israel with leadership that is a lot less incompetent than the present crowd. It may not be fair or just, but it is innevitable if Hezb'Allah is allowed to carry on. I'd say the Lebanese have 2 years at the most.

Posted by: holdfast at February 23, 2007 12:43 PM

Realchutzpa,

I'm afraid that whether I am a scientist or not is not gonna be determined in this blog, or any other blog. This was determined a long time ago by my studies and my diploma.

Such determinations are not determined by majority votes of the uninformed. The notion that they are is in itself evidence of the collapse of education.

Posted by: fp at February 23, 2007 03:34 PM

Michael,

I DK whethere israelis target journalists or not, but I think you are again naive if you believe that making things more convenient for them would make any difference in how Israel is covered.

Israel is today the whipping boy of everybody, and this is fashionable. Israel is the root of all evil in the world and an "inconvenient state". What Israel does makes no difference, there is no limit to the demands placed on it, demands never placed on anybody else. Israelis have internalized this and don't give much of a fuck anymore.

You seem to think that just because you are fair and not anti-israel, Israel should change its treatment of all media. The reality is that for every Mike out there, there's a hundred Fiskies who whether intentionally or not, will not change their line.

Posted by: fp at February 23, 2007 03:52 PM

MacDara,

My point is that if the israelis are not very efficient and polite, at least they have some good reasons.

What is the excuse for the circus that the US calls TSA and which manage to stupidly inconvenience anybody, while clearly would not be able to catch one terrorist who understands the system?

I recall how smug a TSA person was when she found a nail clipper in my bag.

The reality is this: when was the last time flights from/to israel had an incident?

Posted by: fp at February 23, 2007 04:01 PM

Apropos media coverage, I just came across a nice example.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/syria/story/0,,2019497,00.html

Compare the title of the article with its content, particularly the reality on the ground.
The French are helping Israel, while the Hezbollah rearmed is acting with impunity.

Good old Guardian -- to laugh or cry? They don't even bother to assess what they hear for consistency with the reality they see.

Posted by: fp at February 23, 2007 05:10 PM

FP,

Of course, you're right... It was more of a tongue in cheek expression, under the circumstances - sort of a bank - handed compliment in that I enjoy what you bring to the table, sir.

Respectfully,

Cameron
Austin, TX

Posted by: RealChutzpa at February 23, 2007 05:39 PM

bank = back

Darned auto - correct software...

Cam

Posted by: RealChutzpa at February 23, 2007 05:41 PM

Hey, Mike,

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=24550_The_Worst_AP_Article_Yet&only

See what I mean?

Posted by: fp at February 23, 2007 08:03 PM

holdfast,

Funny how everybody focuses on what Israel does as if they wake up in the morning and decide to smash lebanon, ain't it?

That's what I mean when I say that people throw opinions around without any serious knowledge or reasoning ability. There would be much less of this with proper education.

Posted by: fp at February 23, 2007 08:16 PM

Mike,

Have you seen this?

http://www.ain-al-yaqeen.com/issues/20070223/feat8en.htm

Any comments?

Posted by: fp at February 23, 2007 10:49 PM

Macdara:

"... they sometimes inflict on others what has previously been inflicted on them. "

Yeah, right. You have evidence that Israel is rounding up and gassing millions of Palestinians? I'd love to see it.

Macdara again:

"... the way the average Palestinian is treated does not make you sympathise with Israeli security. "

The way the average Israeli is in danger of being blown up in a pizza parlor or bus (or was before the "apartheid wall", and more stringent security) does not make you sympathize with Palestinians.

Again:

"The normal Israelis we met were very pleasant and also very like their Arab cousins. "

Some of his best friends are Jews!

"Everyone in Israel seems to be carrying weapons which is off putting"

Unless, of course, they're actually trying to defend themselves. Macdara, you should read some of the posts in LittleGreenFootballs on "Palestinian child abuse" if you don't like kids carrying weapons.

Posted by: Gary Rosen at February 24, 2007 10:39 PM

"Everyone in Israel seems to be carrying weapons which is off putting"

what the hell are you talking about? I live in israel, the only one who carrying weapons are the soldiers and the policemen...have you been is israel or are you talking on iraq?

Posted by: alon at February 25, 2007 05:12 AM

Naha: When you say Hezbollah "threatened to kill [you]", are you referring to their PR head saying "we know where you live", or is there more to the story?

Clean up, Michael. We have a Hezbollah fascist telling us that journalists who are threatened for what they write should suck it up, not complain (and obviously comply).

Another fucking fascist who doesn't belong in civilized company. Ban and delete, please.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at February 25, 2007 08:49 AM

I didn't see a lot of civilians packing weapons in Israel -- soldiers on and off duty, and security personnel (who are everywhere), and I found that rather comforting. (Where else would getting on a bus full of armed teenagers make you feel more at ease!?)

Macdara's comment reminds me of when we drove to Canada many years ago -- the border guy refused to believe that, being from Arizona, we didn't have a gun with us. It's called stereotyping, and it's a common indicator of bias and ignorance.

btw, MJT -- Olmert is insisting the Airport Security people become less offensive and rude when screening Israeli Arab citizens -- not less thorough, just less rude -- so maybe it'll trickle down to the press eventually.

Posted by: Pam at February 25, 2007 10:16 AM

I also expect to be treated with civility when I use an American passport to visit an American allied country.

Better visit your fellow American Hezzbbollah in Dearborn, Michigan. And better hang on to that American passport of yours. It might come in handy there.

Posted by: redaktor at February 25, 2007 10:35 AM

Gary,

MacDara as just a visitor has no clue about what life in Israel is. Neither does he have a sense of hisotry and what being a jew has been like. He reads the newspapers and sees TV (mostly biased to the hilt) and about the only thing his ignorance enables him to do is compare Israelis and Nazis. Because he knows zilch about either.

That's why the arab/muslim propaganda is so effective in the west: it exploits ignorance and the self-perception of of westerners that they want to be "fair".

Posted by: fp at February 25, 2007 12:15 PM

Alon,

It's actually worse than you think.

Even if it were true that you carry weapons, look at the conclusion he drew: it is THAT which is offputting, not the murderous activities in which the palestinians embark continuously.

That's what happens when you live in Europe without a clue and subject to propaganda. But there is poetic justice: sharia law is coming to a city near them soon.

Posted by: fp at February 25, 2007 12:20 PM

Pam,

Yeah, right, particularly now that the israeli arabs, who relative to their counterparts in the arab countries and under PA live so much better than them, want a bi-national state. lack of politeness is about the only problem.

I have nothing against politeness, but matters are well beyond that now. Stop focusing on irrelevant, superficial issues.

Posted by: fp at February 25, 2007 12:25 PM

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009711

Incidentally, one of the core factors the western public does not understand is that any positive act in the ME is interpreted as weakness, which triggers contempt. To survive you don't look for popularity, but for respect. And respect is not earned by being nice. Not pretty, but fact of life.

The israelis used to know this which is how they survived, but their current leaders now fall in the same western appeasement trap. And we see the consequences.

Posted by: fp at February 25, 2007 12:59 PM

Stop focusing on irrelevant, superficial issues.

Ah, I see the sense of irony is fully engaged today.

Posted by: Pam at February 25, 2007 01:15 PM

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/829440.html

Irony indeed. I guess if the israeli police is polite with them, the perpetrators of such atrocities will stop.

But I would guess that european tourists are too busy being put off by israelis carrying arms to apy attention to what's going on in arab/muslim societies. And LGF is "too shrill".

Posted by: fp at February 25, 2007 04:44 PM

(Sarcasm alert) The irony was that Israeli Arabs (despite all the concerns you so ably catalogued) will get more courteous treatment than journalists.

I understand Arabic has no word for irony, but I was pretty sure English did. Actually, I gather Hebrew had to borrow it from English, but it has seemed to me the sense of humor is pretty well-honed in Israel.

Posted by: Pam at February 25, 2007 05:35 PM

Noted.

DK how courteous are israelis to the israeli arabs now. When I was there, they were. Did not help much, did it?

Because the root of the problems is not lack of courtesy and, as I explained, courtesy would be interpreted as weakness anyway.

And with the press 100:1 anti-israel, neither would courtesy help there.

You must realize that making nice won't make much of a difference either with the arab/muslim world, neither with much of the west.

I know it's hard to accept that, as it was for me, because we believe in civilization, but reality is what it is and denial in the face of barbarism is suicidal.

Posted by: fp at February 25, 2007 07:42 PM

I think we can all agree to put on a smile and be courteous while applying the knife. The French and Arabs made it an art. No reason why the Jooos can't be just as skilled in this art, and just as universally beloved.

Posted by: redaktor at February 25, 2007 08:42 PM

Unfortunately the french and the italians are now applying the knife to the wrong people (and, without realizing it, to themselves).

I can't say that applying the knife is a desirable option, but I sure am for it in self-defense.

Israelis tend to be straight, don't like fakery, while the opposite is true of the other side. Yet the world has this backwards and upside down. Fate of the jews, i guess.

Posted by: fp at February 25, 2007 10:14 PM

Michael,

I just wanted to add my experience to the discussion on the airport treatment. I am used to traveling to both Israel and to Arab countries including Lebanon. Since I am traveling solo I am often interrogated by the airport officials in Israel. Usually I reckon with 45 minutes, but I really can't be bothered by it. I can understand their paranoia and I know that in the end I will always be allowed in (it helps that I have family there).
On the other hand, when I travel to countries like Lebanon or Syria I am always a little nervous. They usually don't ask questions but I am always wondering what would happen if they would find out that I also visit Israel and even have family who lives there.
I guess this is the big difference between Israel and, say, Syria. In order to get into Syria I need to lie in the visa application form (at least when I went there there was a question whether I had ever been to, or was planning to go to "Occupied Palestine", which is their code word for Israel). When I go to Israel, the treatment may be a little rude, but there is nothing I need to be nervous about and I can just tell the truth.

As to Googling passengers... haven't you ever been concerned that e.g. the Lebanese airport officials might enter your name into Google and then find out that you are a regular traveler to Israel and as a result deny you access to Lebanon?

Posted by: Outsider at February 26, 2007 02:29 PM
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