August 17, 2007

An Israeli in Lebanon

While I'm working on my next report from Iraq, don't miss Lisa Goldman's superb essay about her sometimes wonderful and sometimes frightening experience as an Israeli in Lebanon.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 17, 2007 04:21 PM
Comments

It's an interesting story. The controversy surrounding it was totally overblown. This whole thing about her endangering the lives of Lebanese, making journalists' jobs harder, etc., was nonsense.

That said, there was very little journalistic value to the trip. I suspect that the Israelis in question went because it was thrilling to visit an enemy country (the only "fun" enemy country, too, of course).

Writing about how Lebanese are normal people and Beirut is a great city that's somewhat like Tel Aviv is not news to most educated Israelis.

This was pretty much a joyride, not a real story. But it's still fun to read.

Posted by: Edgar at August 17, 2007 04:35 PM

How funny, I just was reading Lisa's Blog before I came over here, and you have linked to it!
I would like to suggest to others to go back to the beginning of her series of posts about the whole experience. The Archives starting on July 3rd is a good place to begin the whole saga. It was quite a trip, especially some of the blowback she got after her TV appearances. She really pissed off all of the right people with her undercover work, and her responses to very ugly rhetoric are great.

Posted by: lindsey at August 17, 2007 04:59 PM

if you google her you can watch her on tel aviv channel 10 with footage from beirut. always nice to see pictures move.

Posted by: Todd Grimson at August 17, 2007 06:45 PM

It was not a joy ride. It put Fisk, who has been living in Leb. for ages, and his like to shame. One major military-political point that comes up strongly and clearly is the way in which the Leb. establishment, with a lot of help from others,even this journalist LG, have created two separate enteties - "good" Lebanon, "bad" Hizb. And accordingly when "bad" Hizb. bomb Israel Israel is not allowed to hit "good" Leb. This is also the point of LG article which describes with love and affection the "good" that should be never be bombed or attacked otherwise, why? they are such nice people, realy. All this time Hizb. with billions from Iran is turning south Leb. into a formidable military missile base. The Hizb. loud and often make it supper clear that these missles are aimed at every thing and all things in Israel. In such game Israel will always lose and pay dearly. Israel must say clearly and often that this is unacceptable. Hizb. is Lebanon and Lebanon is Hizb. The people of Leb. must know that this is totally unacceptable and decide what to do about it.

Posted by: Hazbani at August 18, 2007 02:33 AM

Hazbani,

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make. Are you saying that Israel was wrong to target "good" Lebanon, or are you saying that when they do, it's the fault of the Lebanese?

Posted by: Edgar at August 18, 2007 07:03 AM

Kind of poignant that Lisa couldn't find a publisher for it.

Posted by: Yafawi at August 18, 2007 01:31 PM

Lebanese are normal people and Beirut is a great city that's somewhat like Tel Aviv is not news to most educated Israelis.

you know? i used to think so as well. but then I read at Lisa's blog that she says that she got many reactions saying that they (Israeli's) didn't know - and I was soooooo surprised _ I also always assumed everybody (slightly exaggerated) knew that Beirut is a modern and fun city.

(and to be honest I'm still not convinced that people thought otherwise: hell, even my senior citizen neighbors knew)

But, the individual interviews and the experiences are very nice to read and Lisa has a natural talent (well, I assume it's natural) for writing the most fascinating and attention-catching stories.

Posted by: tsedek at August 18, 2007 01:54 PM

Michael - Many thanks for the link. You're a fantastic friend.

A few clarifications:

Tsedek is right - a lot of educated Israelis were very surprised by my descriptions of Beirut.

Yafawi got it wrong - I did have a publisher for the piece. I just didn't like the terms (not to be disclosed). I didn't want to delay publication any longer because: a lot of people were waiting for it (a); I wanted to coincide publication of the English version with the Hebrew version that was published in Time Out Tel Aviv (b); and I needed to move on to new projects that are not about Lebanon.

Hazbani - It wasn't my intention to paint a picture of good v. bad Lebanese. I don't see life in black and white terms.

Cheers,

Lisa

Posted by: Lisa at August 18, 2007 02:05 PM

It is illegal for Israeli citizens to visit countries that are at war with Israel. Lisa should be sent to prison.

Before Israelis and others get overly misty-eyed about the Lebanese people, they should remember the result of a recent public opinion poll taken there. "If the military balance shifted in favour of the Arabs", one question ran, "should the Arabs attack Israel?" 95% said yes.

Posted by: Moshe at August 18, 2007 06:58 PM

Moshe: Lisa should be sent to prison.

She's a dear friend of mine, so you can imagine what I think of you for saying that.

95% said yes

We should "remember" that poll? What's to remember? Where did it appear? Hezbollah TV?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 18, 2007 08:31 PM

Michael: "She's a dear friend of mine..."

That doesn't put her above the law. At a time when Lebanese and other organizations are holding Israelis hostage, it is particularly reckless for her to go: if she were harmed, I'm sure she'd expect the Israeli Government to bail her out.

Do you dispute the poll I quoted? Why? Does it contradict your assessment of Lebanese opinion? Why don't you ask people that very question the next time you are there?

Posted by: moshe at August 18, 2007 09:33 PM

Moshe, the Lebanese Forces all on their own make up more than the 5 percent of Lebanese you claim don't want to destroy Israel. Everyone knows the LF is pro-Israel. And we're excluding those who aren't LF and are also pro-Israel, and also those who don't care much for Israel and yet don't wish to attack.

I'm not saying the majority of Lebanese are pro-Israel. I know they are not. But your unproven and uncited assertion that 95 percent of Lebanese want to attack Israel is absurd. Lebanon is by far the least anti-Israel Arab country in the world.

At a time when Lebanese and other organizations are holding Israelis hostage, it is particularly reckless for her to go

Yeah, well, Americans get kidnapped in Iraq. But I went to Iraq. Some of us have a job to do, and we do it hazards be damned.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 18, 2007 09:44 PM

Michael, the poll I quote was published a while ago. I have no reason to doubt its veracity; it may have been a poll of Beirut University students alone, which makes it even more significant. Note the contingent portion of the question "...if the balance of forces were to change in favour of the Arabs...". The point is that in a strategically transformed situation different from today's, with a credible Arab war option, the Lebanese will revert to support for war.

Israelis have a long and sad history of going to enemy countries to show off, and then getting killed, or getting taken hostage. This doesn't just harm the individuals concerned , but also the entire country. That's why there are laws against it.

The dangers faced by someone such as yourself in Iraq, are very different from the dangers facing an Israeli Jew in Lebanon. You must realize that.

Posted by: Moshe at August 18, 2007 10:31 PM

Moshe - I wasn't the first Israeli reporter to visit Lebanon over the past few years, and it's common knowledge that Israeli reporters with dual citizenship travel frequently to "enemy" states. Your blustering about prison is just silly.

Posted by: Lisa at August 18, 2007 10:51 PM

Lisa: You are in breach of the law. The fact that others are too doesn't mitigate your actions.

Taking Israelis hostage, and then demanding and obtaining the release of convicted Arab murderers has become a recurring Arab strategem. Over the years, it has weakened Israeli security and has come close to destroying the deterrent effect of the Israeli judicial system. You are not living in a vacuum, and are not entitled to ignore the general public interest as expressed by the law.

Posted by: Moshe at August 18, 2007 11:31 PM

Moshe:

You do have a point, but consider the fact that Lisa and her colleague have dual citizenship. I very much doubt that Hizballah would kidnap Canadian or Brazilian citizens and use them as bargaining chips.

Ultimately I think you're right, though. The risk of having an Israeli taken captive in a hostile state outweighs any possible benefit a news story could have.

Posted by: Edgar at August 18, 2007 11:43 PM

Moshe, if you can't back up such hysterical claims about Lebanon, post it elsewhere. Don't just shovel bullshit statistics at me that don't even remotely pass the smell test.

I have seen many many polls of Lebanese public opinion about Israel that show only 10 percent want war. The rest either want peace now or peace after the minor outstanding issues have been resolved.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 19, 2007 12:30 AM

Michael, I don't think Moshe is too open to debate. He seems to have his mind well made up on this matter.

As for the accusation that I have broken the law, or endangered Israeli security (the hostage issue) I just don't have patience for that argument. If journalists stayed at home because they were afraid to run risks, we'd never know anything about anyplace.

As I wrote earlier in this thread, I am not the only Israeli journalist who reported from Lebanon over the past year: Ron Ben Yishai reported from Beirut for Yedioth Ahronoth one day after the ceasefire, and Rinat Malkes did an extensive report from southern Lebanon for Ynet last month.

Posted by: Lisa at August 19, 2007 02:06 AM

I have to (partially) agree with Edgar here: there's nothing new or interesting in the report. Those who claim that there isn't coverage out there that shows us in a positive and truthful light must not know how to read. On the other hand, I've spoken to a couple of European reporters who have told me that it's harder for them to work now. That's anecdotal, so take it for what it's worth.

Michael: The LF isn't pro-Israel anymore, or at least not the rank and file (some of those that fought with the Israelis in the civil war even have swastika tattoos). I hate the organization but have some friends in it, and especially after last summer, all of them that I know hate Israel.

But going from hating Israel and wanting to be in a war is a big step that most people here don't want to take. That poll sounds suspiciously made up to me, because I can't think of any issue that 95% of us could agree on!

Posted by: Beiruti at August 19, 2007 04:56 AM

The controversy in this thread seems to be a recurring one. I took a considerable amount of similar heat from a post I did last week comparing the portrayal of Hezbollah's intimidation of journalists by two reporters in Lebanon (check out the comments). It seems to be the case -- and I think this is abhorrent -- that many people feel that Hezbollah's thuggery with journalists is actually the fault of people like Lisa and myself, rather than the fault of, well, the thugs in Hezbollah.

My view is that if Hezbollah becomes even more thuggish and paranoid toward journalists because people like Lisa have visited Lebanon, everyone who believes in free speech, a free press, and an open society should stand up and be counted as defenders of journalistic freedom, and indeed should declare their admiration for Lisa's bravery.

A lot of other people -- including, most disappointingly, some journalists -- seem to disagree.

Posted by: Noah Pollak at August 19, 2007 08:44 AM

Noah,

I think criticisms by the kinds of people you're talking about are worthless. If Lisa and her friend made anyone's life harder, it's the fault of Hizballah.

But there's another issue, that of Israeli citizens going to enemy countries. Sure, people have done it before, but it doesn't change the fact that it's dangerous and pretty irresponsible. Hizballah can and will kidnap Israelis, and the Israeli government will be forced to exchange jailed terrorists for their release.

Like I said, it was a bit different in this case because they had dual citizenship, but it still could have ended in tragedy, not just for the two journalists but for Israel as a whole.

Look, I've heard responses like "It's Hizballah's fault" and "I'm not the only one who did it."

What about a response to the argument that it was irreponsible because the journalists could have been taken hostage?

Posted by: Edgar at August 19, 2007 10:15 AM

Beiruti: The LF isn't pro-Israel anymore, or at least not the rank and file

Eh, I guess it depends on who you know. And anyway, saying you're pro-Israel in Lebanon is dangerous. Lebanese are more likely to "out" themselves as pro-Israel to me than they are to other Lebanese because it is safer for them to do so. Public opinion in Lebanon isn't as hard to read as public opinion in Iraq, but it is not an open book either.

I can't think of any issue that 95% of us could agree on

That's definitely true, too.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 19, 2007 10:16 AM

Beiruti: there's nothing new or interesting in the report.

Not if you're Lebanese. But the average American and Israeli have no idea what Beirut is really like.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 19, 2007 10:17 AM

Edgar: What about a response to the argument that it was irreponsible because the journalists could have been taken hostage?

I've been to Iraq, with and without military protection. I went to Kirkuk unembedded and could have been taken hostage, but no one accused me of being irresponsible for doing it.

Lots of journalists risk kidnapping to do their job. It's silly to call me "brave" and Lisa "irresponsible" for doing basically the same thing.

Some of my friends and family think I was irresponsible for going to Iraq. Oh well. It's my job. Not everyone understands.

And anyway, it has been many many years since any foreign civilian, Israeli, American, or otherwise, has been kidnapped anywhere by anybody in Lebanon.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 19, 2007 10:23 AM

Hizballah can and will kidnap Israelis, and the Israeli government will be forced to exchange jailed terrorists for their release.

Just wondering, how many Israeli journalists have recently been captured in Lebanon by Hizbollah and held for ransom?

How many non-Lebanese journalists have recently been captured in Lebanon by Hizbollah and held for ransom?

Posted by: mary at August 19, 2007 10:23 AM

Michael - thanks for simultaneously thinking of and answering my question as I posted it :-)

Posted by: mary at August 19, 2007 10:27 AM

MJT: I've been to Iraq, with and without military protection. I went to Kirkuk unembedded and could have been taken hostage

You had military protection in both cases; in Kurdistan from a pro-American militia and in Baghdad from the US Armed Forces.

Lisa and her friend had zero military protection and the fact that they were not kidnapped (or at least arrested and deported) was because they kept a low profile, not because they were left alone by the powers that be.

If you rented a car with, say, your friend Sean and drove to Kirkuk without any protection, wouldn't you consider that irresponsible?

It has been many many years since any foreign civilian, Israeli, American, or otherwise, has been kidnapped anywhere by anybody in Lebanon.

Two words: Elhanan Tannenbaum. Unless you consider seven years "many many years."

Posted by: Edgar at August 19, 2007 11:11 AM

Oooh, I was waiting for someone to bring up Monsieur Tannenbaum.

Elhanan Tannenbaum was a scummy little drug dealer who was lured to Lebanon by even scummier guys who promised Tannenbaum a get-rich quick deal but were in fact planning to kidnap him. Since Tannenbaum was formerly a career officer in the standing army who (incredibly, given his scuzzy ways) had access to classified information, one could assume that he would be a much tastier fish for HA kidnappers than a journalist.

Also, Tannnenbaum did not have a non-Israeli passport, so he clearly entered Lebanon using false documents.

Anyway, Mr. T. is now working as a taxi driver in Tel Aviv. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Posted by: Lisa at August 19, 2007 11:27 AM

The question in the poll was "If the military balance between Israel and the Arabs were to change, should the Arabs go to war against Israel?".

The item was included in an article that dealt, among other things, about the change in attitudes of the Christians in Lebanon towards Israel in recent years. The article's position was much in line with some of Beiruti's comments. In spite of Beiruti's assessment, though, it sounds reasonable to me that 95% would agree with the question. Given a realistic prospect of military victory, most Arabs would jump on the bandwagon. And the Lebanese being polled were not asked to actually participate in the war. Having others do your fighting for you always has an added appeal.

Posted by: Moshe at August 19, 2007 11:28 AM

Moshe: sounds reasonable to me

Sounds idiotic and propagandistic to me, and probably to anyone else who has spent time in Lebanon no matter their opinion of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

You have obviously never been there.

And you still haven't even told us who published this "poll," let alone provided a link to it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 19, 2007 11:41 AM

Lisa,

I wasn't comparing your trip to that of Tannenbaum. I brought him up because MJT claimed that nobody had been kidnapped for many years.

Israeli journalists visiting Lebanon is a new phenomenon. Personally, I think it's a very dangerous game, even if nothing has happened yet. If hundreds of Israelis had done it and gotten away with it scot-free, maybe I'd have a different opinion. But the fact is, only a handful have done it and got away with it by being very careful.

It's a matter of risk vs. return. If Israeli agents need to sneak into Lebanon to get crucial intelligence at the risk of losing their lives or being captured, fine. But is it really worth it to have journalists enter a hostile state, even if there's only a 1 in 10 chance of getting kidnapped, just to get a "man-on-the-street" interview?

Posted by: Edgar at August 19, 2007 11:41 AM

a 1 in 10 chance of getting kidnapped

It is nowhere near that dangerous, Edgar.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 19, 2007 11:43 AM

MJT: It is nowhere near that dangerous, Edgar.

Not that dangerous for Israelis? Reading the story, you'll see that some Lebanese knew she was Israeli.

I think it's fair to say there was a 10% chance one of these people could have told the wrong person.

I agree that there is very little danger for Western journalists. But Israelis are always the exception in the ME.

Posted by: Edgar at August 19, 2007 11:46 AM

Guys,

Its not your life. If Michael, Lisa and others want to take the risk and then report back so the rest of us know what is actually happening on the ground, then more power to them.

There is nothing that says a reporter's government has to negotiate for their release. Some will, some won't. Not knowing if your government will get you back is a risk some reporters are willing to take.

As a former reporter, I'm okay with their adventures.

If hundreds of Israelis had done it and gotten away with it scot-free, maybe I'd have a different opinion.

How do you get to "hundreds" without people like Lisa showing the way? It seems illogical to say that you're opposed to Lisa going to Beirut because not enough people have done it yet, but once a bunch of others have gone, then you'll be okay with Lisa going, too. Huh!?

Posted by: Dogwood at August 19, 2007 12:11 PM

Dogwood,

I think people have to look at the Israeli aspect of this. Like I said, Israel is an exception.

If Lisa was captured by Hizballah, Israel would DEFINITELY have negotiated for her release. No doubt about it whatsoever. And it's also absolutely certain that Israel would have had to release scores of terrorists, possibly with blood on their hands, to secure her release.

The government would have been under tremendous pressure from Lisa's family and friends, not to mention thousands of sympathizers, to get her out safely.

That's the kind of place Israel is. It's simply not the same as a country like the US.

Posted by: Edgar at August 19, 2007 12:22 PM

Edgar,

Perhaps you're right, but would Lisa expect the government to compromise its policies for the sake of her release?

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that reporters understand the risks they are taking and they also understand they may not be rescued by their government if things go awry.

Its a dangerous business, they know that, yet they take the risks anyway. They should be commended, not criticized.

Along those same lines, family members and friends should not expect any government to change its policies for the sake of one individual reporter who knowingly walked into danger to get the story.

Posted by: Dogwood at August 19, 2007 12:30 PM

Edgar -

I do think the risk was worth taking. I think that Israelis have the right to read about life in Lebanon in their own language (my original article was published in Hebrew), and from an Israeli perspective.

Posted by: Lisa at August 19, 2007 12:35 PM

If Lisa was captured by Hizballah, Israel would DEFINITELY have negotiated for her release. No doubt about it whatsoever.

If you don't agree with Israeli policy, or with the way these things are handled, then it would probably be best to concentrate efforts on criticizing and maybe changing those policies - instead of criticizing reporters for doing their jobs.

Posted by: mary at August 19, 2007 01:34 PM

Mary,

I have no problem with Israel's policy. If Lisa was taken hostage, I'd support the release of terrorists to get her back.

My point is this: when Israelis get taken captive by terrorists, they are usually held for a very long time. If and when they are released, it comes at an extremely high price.

I personally disagree that the trip was worth it. That doesn't mean I'm furious about it and think she is a bad reporter, or person for that matter. I understand her enthusiasm for going after stories like this, but IMO she acted irresponsibly to some degree because of the potential risks.

I know that journalists take risks. But I don't think they should take risks that might endager other people (I'm talking about Israelis here, not Lebanese). Again, E. Tanenbaum is a scumbag and I hate to compare him to Lisa, but his case showed that one Israeli captive can do a lot of damage to national security.

Posted by: Edgar at August 19, 2007 01:55 PM

It's disappointing to me that everyone here is focusing on Lisa's safety, and not a single person is asking whether the stories she did were worth endangering the people she interviewed under false pretenses. Her own safety is her concern and hers alone, but that of others is not.

And what about the Brazilian/Israeli girl? I imagine that she got a fixer in order to do her stories in the south. Did she tell her fixers that she was Israeli and that they could get in trouble (personally or professionally) for cooperating with her?

I agree that Israelis deserve to have news about Lebanon, but that news is readily available without putting people in danger. There are countless high quality written stories and TV/radio reports done by top notch reporters here that could be translated to Hebrew. This way they could get coverage by someone who really knows Lebanon and can give more balanced and informed coverage instead of sensationalism.

Posted by: Beiruti at August 19, 2007 02:36 PM

Beiruti (AKA Sean Lee, AK HP) -

Yes, Rinat's fixer was fully informed. You can read his response to the controversy in a letter he wrote to the Daily Star. I don't think the Star had the guts to publish the letter, but it's here on my blog.

There is nothing in my article that would endanger the lives of Lebanese. I disguised the identity of every person I spoke with. The people who were interviewed for my Channel 10 piece were either neutral or supportive of Hezbollah. Both knew I was a journalist.

As I have written and said several times, in various forums, I do not accept the assertion that Israelis should be content with secondhand reporting from Arab countries. Iranian television has reporters in Israel, as do Al Jazeera and Al Manar. If Arabic speakers have access to direct reporting in their own language from Israel, then Israelis should have the same access. Right now we have an unacceptable double standard. This is an issue of freedom of the press.

But the real issue is why I, or any journalist, should be held responsible for the actions of others. If Hezbollah is committing extreme acts (endangering lives, you said), then they should be held responsible for their own actions and the criticism should be directed at them. Which is exactly what I said when I was interviewed on International Correspondents.

Posted by: Lisa at August 19, 2007 03:22 PM

Correction to the above: Al Manar has a correspondent in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. All the Arab satellite TV stations have correspondents in both the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

Posted by: Lisa at August 19, 2007 03:24 PM

Lisa: Who are you responding to?

If the other girl told her fixers, then that's fair enough. As for other people interviewed, regardless of what they said or who they're with, the issue isn't whether they knew you were a journalist but that they knew you were an Israeli journalist, and they didn't.

Sub-question: Do you think that Lebanese journalists from al-Manar should be able to report from Tel Aviv? As it is, they cannot, and those that report from the West Bank are Palestinian, not Lebanese. Is that also a question of the freedom of the press?

Posted by: Beiruti at August 19, 2007 03:44 PM

"But the real issue is why I, or any journalist, should be held responsible for the actions of others."

Because it's never the fault of the Arabs, it's always the fault of the Jews.

"If Hezbollah is committing extreme acts (endangering lives, you said), then they should be held responsible for their own actions"

See above.

Posted by: Gary Rosen at August 19, 2007 04:03 PM

But the real issue is why I, or any journalist, should be held responsible for the actions of others. If Hezbollah is committing extreme acts (endangering lives, you said), then they should be held responsible for their own actions and the criticism should be directed at them. Which is exactly what I said when I was interviewed on International Correspondents.

In a perfect world, maybe, but in the real world, that's either incredibly naive or incredibly callous. As a journalist, you have a responsibility to not endanger the people you are interviewing. If you went to Myanmar or Turkmenistan and interviewed (under false pretenses) dissidents or even just people who didn't have government permission to talk to the media, of course the repressive regimes would be responsible for what happened to those people, but so would you. To pretend otherwise seems pretty myopic.

Posted by: Beiruti at August 19, 2007 04:05 PM

If Lisa was taken hostage, I'd support the release of terrorists to get her back.

If I was taken hostage, I wouldn't support the release of terrorists to get me back.

Maybe people who are going to travel to interesting yet risky places could sign a kind of living will - "do not appease in case of kidnapping"

As it is, they cannot, and those that report from the West Bank are Palestinian, not Lebanese.

Is it Israeli or Lebanese law that forbids Lebanese reporters from traveling to Israel?

Posted by: mary at August 19, 2007 04:15 PM

Beiruti,

Both of these "girls" (as you refer to them) are dual citizens. They didn't misrepresent themselves when they said they were Brazilian and Canadian.

Lebanon is also not a totalitarian state. Hizballah is powerful in their own backyard but it's very unlikely that they'd threaten or harm someone for unwittingly appearing on Israeli TV.

I find it ludicrous that Lebanese criticize Lisa for "endangering" people yet fail to note the underlying reason for this "danger": Hizballah.

As far as I'm concerned, Lisa endangered only herself. I understand her motives but in my opinion it was not worth it.

I think the issue can easily be resolved. Let Israeli journalists into Lebanon. We shouldn't even be having this argument.

Mary: If I was taken hostage, I wouldn't support the release of terrorists to get me back.

I guarantee you'd change your mind about that after a few hours in a Hizballah dungeon.

Posted by: Edgar at August 19, 2007 07:35 PM

references here in the comments to how Lisa "pissed off all the right people" seem to indicate that the fall-out to this piece may be more interesting than the piece itself.

yet this fall-out is not described. unless it is entirely represented by the comments from moshe.

journalists of course always desire to be "controversial." this is part of how one obtains money and fame within this field. i'm sure that i am just dense, but not living in israel or lebanon i don't understand what might be controversial about this piece.

Posted by: Todd Grimson at August 19, 2007 08:10 PM

Edgar: They didn't misrepresent themselves when they said they were Brazilian and Canadian.

Both of them did pieces for Israeli media. Neither of them told the people they interviewed that they would be appearing in Israeli media. This is misrepresentation, clear and simple. It doesn't seem to get much more clear cut than that.

I find it ludicrous that Lebanese criticize Lisa for "endangering" people yet fail to note the underlying reason for this "danger": Hizballah.

No one is saying that Hezbollah would be the enforcer for this. No one. We're just saying that for the time being, this is how things are, and knowing that, it's irresponsible to endanger people. I'd love to see restrictions in Hezbollah-controlled territory loosen. I'd love to see a day when not only could Israeli journalists come here and Lebanese journalist go there, but when I could go to Haifa for the day or Jerusalem for the weekend. But I'd also like to see an end to the occupation of Lebanese and Syrian land and a just solution for the Palestinians, not to mention a stop to Israeli flyovers and rockets from Gaza.

Until that day comes, however, things are going to be tense concerning Israeli citizens in Lebanon. It's unfortunate, but that's the case, and to not take that consideration is irresponsible at best.

Is it Israeli or Lebanese law that forbids Lebanese reporters from traveling to Israel?

To the best of my knowledge, it's both.

Posted by: Beiruti at August 19, 2007 10:25 PM

Mary: Is it Israeli or Lebanese law that forbids Lebanese reporters from traveling to Israel?

I know it is against Lebanese law. I don't know if Lebanese can travel to Israel on a Lebanese passport according to Israeli law, but I know they can travel to Israel under second passports even if the Israelis know the traveler is also Lebanese. I know a few Lebanese who have done this, and so does Lisa.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 19, 2007 11:42 PM

Scratch that, I know one Lebanese who has done this.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 19, 2007 11:43 PM

Dear Michael,

Thanks for opening this space to talk about Lisa's article. I have been trying to post my comments on Lisa's blog and she wouldn't validate my posts. It was really annoying for me because I really wanted to tell her a couple of things about her article as an ordinary Lebanese. But I guess freedom of expression is relative and should be censored especially if it comes from the wrong lebanese! (try to deny it Lisa)
I have a bunch Israeli friends from Telaviv that I met abroad and I am not ashamed of it. I work on peace and reconciliation in Lebanon and also in international exchanges. I would support any initiative that would bring the two peoples together to talk because I think exposure will help solving the problem. Nevertheless, I have seen Beirut burn infront of my eyes last summer and I found that Lisa's stunt in Beirut amazingly in-considerate. I felt like many Lebanese that what she has done was nothing but challenging the Lebanese authorities and people. She made me think of all those western 'rebels' who come to conflict areas just for the thrill and the rush. So, she came to Beirut to discover that we play yoga and are normal?! as the Lebanese hiphop band says "what do you think, we were born like this with kalashnikovs in our hands?" I would have forgiven her if she did a good story. But what Lisa did was just say what the main-stream Israeli media wants to hear and that is that Israel bombed only "Dahye". I was in Beirut and our country was destroyed to rubble not just Dahye. Also and just for the record, Dahye and the south are part of Lebanon as well. While I am against hezbollah ideologically because I am against conservative parties that use religion, I believe that the Zionist enterprise is worse by ten folds than Hezbollah. At least, Hizb is just defending their villages while the Zionist enterprise run a full ethnic cleansing and systematic active ethnic discrimination.

Lisa: so what's the scoop? Is it that we're normal people? Also, why do you refuse people who try to post on your blog? Do I have to agree with what you say first? I guess this is journalism these days!

Posted by: Jabali at August 20, 2007 01:10 AM

Jabali: I have been trying to post my comments on Lisa's blog and she wouldn't validate my posts

Outrageous! Let's get to the bottom of this!

the Zionist enterprise run a full ethnic cleansing and systematic active ethnic discrimination.

Wait. It looks like you had the answer the whole time. She's part of the Zionist enterprise.

Now here's my question: what made you think you could post comments on a Zionist blog that practiced ethnic cleansing in the comments? What did you expect to happen?

Come to think of it, Jabali, what the hell are you doing trying to make contact with a Zionist spy? Didn't you see the al-Manar report?

Posted by: Edgar at August 20, 2007 03:43 AM

I believe that the Zionist enterprise is worse by ten folds than Hezbollah. At least, Hizb is just defending their villages while the Zionist enterprise run a full ethnic cleansing and systematic active ethnic discrimination.

Lisa: so what's the scoop? Is it that we're normal people?

You, sir, are not a normal person. How can you say that Hezbollah "is just defending their villages" when Hezbollah started a war last summer by attacking Israel and abducting two of its soldiers? What are you smoking?

Lisa, I wouldn't have authorized this clown's posts either.

Posted by: Noah Pollak at August 20, 2007 03:45 AM

Jabali - You don't have to agree with me, but you do have to phrase your disagreement politely and intelligently. I don't publish comments that are rude, hateful or aggressively tendentious (see my comments policy for further info). I don't remember your comment, but if it contained phrases like "ethnic cleansing" or "Zionist enterprise" then you're right - I must have hit the delete button. Kudos to Michael for having the patience to deal with that kind of language.

Beiruti - I have no problem at all with Al Manar reporters in Tel Aviv. A couple of nights ago I met an Al Jazeera reporter who's based in Ramallah for drinks at a Tel Aviv bar. We're friends and we consider that normal. So what's your point?

It's perfectly true that the correspondents for the Arab media in Israel are Palestinians or Israelis (1948 Palestinians). So what? I was born in Canada and I entered Lebanon with my Canadian passport.

I also know that the Israel correspondent for a major European radio station is a Lebanese citizen who holds an EU passport in addition to her Lebanese passport. I met her during the war, when she was hanging out with Israeli colleagues, and everyone knew that she was Lebanese. Her mother was in Beirut throughout the war, too.

This past Saturday I also had breakfast in Tel Aviv with another Lebanese journalist who acquired EU citizenship as an adult. His passport states that he was born in Lebanon.

Lebanese citizens with second passports are not prevented from entering Israel or from reporting from Israel. They might be taken aside for extra questioning at the airport, which can be irksome and time consuming, but that's all. So no, it is not against Israeli law for Lebanese to enter Israel.

Posted by: Lisa at August 20, 2007 03:50 AM

The point, Lisa, is that I cannot come to Israel on a Lebanese passport. That's why it's worth mentioning that the correspondents for Arab news outlets are Palestinians and not Lebanese. You make it sound like it's a all a one-sided affair, perpetrated by the unreasonable Arabs, but like most international relations, it's reciprocal. If you think it's silly that Israeli reporters are not allowed to come to Lebanon (as do I), then you should also state that it's silly that Lebanese reporters (without the luxury of a second passport) can't come to Israel. That's just being even-handed.

As for not posting any comments that use the term ethnic cleansing, would you also not publish any comments by Ilan Pappé, Jimmy Carter, Benny Morris or Avraham Burg? Why is that description beyond the pale? What about apartheid, which simply means separation? Would you delete this comment by Desmond Tutu?

Posted by: Beiruti at August 20, 2007 06:09 AM

I guarantee you'd change your mind about that after a few hours in a Hizballah dungeon.

I'd guarantee that a life filled with news about terrorist atrocities that were committed as a result of my being 'freed' through an appeasement deal with terrorists would not be a life worth living.

But the point is, appeasing terrorists (and terrorist kidnappers) increases the incidence of terrorism. We've known this for decades. If it is Israeli policy to release known terrorists from jail in response to kidnappers demands, then this policy is misguided. Arguing against this policy, seeking ways to eliminate the appeal of the tactic of kidnapping (or eliminating the kidnappers) are effective ways of dealing with this problem.

Criticizing journalists for doing their job and restricting news about a neighboring country are not effective ways of dealing with the problem.

Posted by: mary at August 20, 2007 07:18 AM

MosheTaking Israelis hostage, and then demanding and obtaining the release of convicted Arab murderers has become a recurring Arab strategem.

maybe it has slipped your attention but the only israeli's - except for criminal tannenbaum - were kidnapped from ISRAELI soil.

besides the hizb doesn't kidnap civilians....

Posted by: tsedek at August 20, 2007 11:08 AM

Beirutiit's irresponsible to endanger people.

Did Lisa threaten to shoot her interviewees?? Knock them up?? Take away their money?? what???

This is getting sillier and sillier all the time. The ones that are threatening with violence are the ones endangering the lives of these people, not the people who give the stage to other people speaking their free mind!

Posted by: tsedek at August 20, 2007 11:31 AM

Beiruti ,i>The point, Lisa, is that I cannot come to Israel on a Lebanese passport.

and? israeli's can come to lebanon on an israeli passport?

Posted by: tsedek at August 20, 2007 11:44 AM

1) Any body in Israel, Lebanon, Turkemenistan, ect. who appears on a black and while screen in little student TV station in Nome Alaska or Hell Norway should know that at this very monent he appears on all TV screens in the whole univers or the milky way, surely on earth. I do not belive for a moment that there is an educated Leb. especially journalist who does not know it. So this thing "I talked to Canadian Reporter and I would not have talked to Israeli JOOOO" is bunk, but deeply under it all it is a racist bigot posittion.
2) In the last few years there were hundreds double passports vistors from Arab countries including lebanon to Israel including writers and photographers of all ranks, origins and professionality, after a day or two in Israel they will be telling it to any body and every body. For young people it is a good pic up starting story. It is totally and absolutely unlike Lebanon. Talking about memories, accounts, ethnic cleaning ect. in 1948-50 there were about 20.000 Jews in Lebanon and about that number of so called 1948 Palestinians inside the Green line. Now there are zero public Jews in Lebanon and more than a million Israeli Arabs, talk about ethnic cleaning. It is the same with all the Jews from the Arab countries. I am yet to see Israeli refugee from an Arab country expressing hate toward or endangering such double visa person, on the contrary.
2) As for Jabali and or Beiruty. Hizballa is a part of Lebanon ! when Hizb. goes to war all Lebanon will go to war. Just one fact, I know this and you two know it, because both of you seem to know many things. The Hizb. built the fuel supply to its missiles trucks on civilian gas stations, so its water and food supplies as well as electricity to the coastal Radars, what they did not get from the Leb. army [but that is another story]and so on and so forth. This artificial, and seemingly clever to some Leb., separation between civilian infrastructure and Hizb. military infrastructure is a lie it does not exist, the Hizb. on perpose and design [made in Teheran ] willed it to be so. No sane Isreali officer will let such gass station operate so that the nice people from the LP will be able to fill their cars on the way to the beach in Junia, no way. If, because of that, they hate Israel and tatoo swastica on their body, tough luck so be it. Sad as this fact is to sane Israelies and Leb. you, who were so clever in telling us how real and complex the world is, put this fact in your computers and tell it to your friends. By the way this Civilian-military mixture is totally illegal according to all the Geneva and Red Cross rulls regulations convensions ect.
More can be written but this is a blog not a book.

Posted by: Hazbani at August 20, 2007 12:03 PM

mary: If it is Israeli policy to release known terrorists from jail in response to kidnappers demands, then this policy is misguided.

Forget about policy. This is about values. Releasing hundreds of murderers is bad, but nothing is worse than abandoning one of your own citizens and leaving them at the mercy of vicious kidnappers.

Did you see what Alan Johnston looked like after a few months in captivity? Did you see how absolutely ecstatic he was to have been released?

And he was treated extremely well, relatively speaking.

Now imagine what it would be like to be kept in the trunk of a car for several MONTHS. Then imagine getting tortured for the next several YEARS and having zero contact with your family.

That's the kind of treatment Israeli captives get.

You do not abandon your own to prove a point. Kidnappings happen no matter what. The kidnap-murder is a terrorist trademark, in fact. Sometimes you're lucky to have the chance pay a ransom.

I have a suggestion for people advocating that Israel not negotiate for hostages:

Spend the next few months in the trunk of your car. That will give you a bit of perspective.

Posted by: Edgar at August 20, 2007 12:46 PM

>>"But I guess freedom of expression is relative and should be censored especially if it comes from the wrong lebanese! (try to deny it Lisa)"<<-Jabali

I had no idea privately owned/run websites were designed to guarantee one's 'freedom of expression' (whatever that means).

Apologies to all for the exercise in pedantry. Comments such as the above quote are common on the internet and have always annoyed me.

Posted by: anuts at August 20, 2007 02:16 PM

Spend the next few months in the trunk of your car. That will give you a bit of perspective.

I think it would be better to spend a few months in the trunk of a car, or even to die, than to spend an entire life watching people, maybe many people, be killed by murderers who were released on my behalf. But those are just my personal beliefs, and I have no ability to influence Israeli policy.

But if the Israeli government is so vulnerable to the threat of kidnapping, then I hope that they're coming up with solutions other than setting hundreds of murderers free. Kidnapping doesn't happen 'no matter what' - it's a crime of opportunity, committed by certain groups who to achieve certain goals. It's a crime committed by those who are fairly certain that they'll get away with it and be rewarded by it.

Posted by: mary at August 20, 2007 05:14 PM

tsedek wrote: Moshe: "maybe it has slipped your attention but the only israeli's - except for criminal tannenbaum - were kidnapped from ISRAELI soil.

besides the hizb doesn't kidnap civilians.... "

I wrote: "Taking Israelis hostage, and then demanding and obtaining the release of convicted Arab murderers has become a recurring Arab strategem."

Nothing in my post about whether the hostages were on Israeli soil or not when they were captured, or whether they were civilians or not. Over the many years of conflict, there have been all possible combinations and permutations.

Incidentally, capturing enemy soldiers in order to trade them is explicitly forbidden by the laws of war.

Posted by: Moshe at August 20, 2007 10:17 PM

Edgar, what argument is that? All what I was saying is that if Lisa wants to claim that her interview is a trying to give a different perspective to Lebanese middle class , maybe she should be honest enough to give both sides of the story. Other than that all of her actions are unethical!! Refusing to post comments that are just trying to give a different story and disagree with what she's saying is bunch of crap.

As for the zionist plot. There is no zionist plot but there is a fact that Israel was established on confiscated Palestinian lands and is still involved in occupation of west-bank and Gaza strip. Israel has a system of systematic discrimination against it’s non-jewish citizens. It's not just me that speaks about these, some interesting Israeli figures have been speaking for sometime now about the discriminatory nature of the state of Israel. One of them is Avraham Burgh who is a former chairman of the Jewish agency for Israel and a Knesset member from 1999-2003. I don't think you can get more Israeli than that and he's famous for saying that Israel should choose between racist oppression and liberal democracy. Also as Beiruti pointed out Benny Morris and others. Mean while you can accuse me of all this conspiracy crap if it makes you feel okay...but maybe it would do you good if you respond to the argument itself.

Posted by: jabali at August 21, 2007 12:59 AM

Edgar. What argument is that? My point is if Lisa is claiming to present Beirut's middle class to Israelis maybe she should give both sides of the story not just what is convenient to her. Don't you agree? By not doing this, I believe that she was being un-ethical.

As for a zionist plot, there is no zionist plot, but there is a fact that Israel was established on confiscated Palestinian lands and is still involved in occupation of west-bank and Gaza strip. Israel has a system of systematic discrimination against it’s non-jewish citizens. It's not just me that speaks about these, some interesting Israeli figures have been speaking for sometime now about the discrimanatory nature of the state of Israel. One of them is Avraham Burgh who is a former chairman of the Jewish agency for Israel and a Knesset member from 1999-2003. I don't think you can get more Israeli than that and he's famous for saying that Israel should choose between racist oppression and liberal democracy. Also as Beiruti pointed out Benny Morris is another example. Edgar, maybe it would be better if you responded to the argument instead of this entire crap you spoke.

Posted by: jjaballi at August 21, 2007 01:06 AM

Moshe I wrote that to compare the risk of being kidnapped is not bigger within then it is outside of israeli borders, if they manage to succeed even from within.....

(hehehehe)

Posted by: tsedek at August 21, 2007 03:04 AM

JabaliIsrael was established on confiscated Palestinian lands

in war there is no confiscation. there is winning or losing. get over it already after 60 odd years and so many wars in the meanwhile.

Posted by: tsedek at August 21, 2007 03:10 AM

Lisa, thanks for sharing your experiences in Beirut. While I enjoyed reading the narrative, you really needed someone on the ground to help you navigate the complexities of Lebanon. I think you had things reversed and took risks when you did not need to, and what you thought of as risks were not really risks at all. First off, most Western tourists know better than to take photos of anything Hizbollah (HB) or military-related. When you took the photo of the HB flag, you could have got not only yourself but the taxi-driver in serious trouble. Taking a picture of the tent city was also not a good idea.

One problem with the writing is that you focus on particularities instead of generalities. When you wrote that: "Several people – Lebanese and foreign reporters, mostly - had warned me strongly against entering the dahiyeh," this is misleading. It is recommended that NO foreigners (not just a cute Israeli journalist) visit the southern suburbs of Beirut or certain parts of southern Lebanon.

I was struck by your words: "And I did not like the knowledge that I was welcome as Lisa, the Canadian; but not as Lisa, the Israeli." What did you expect? For the Lebanese to roll out a red carpet for you, a citizen of the country that bombed Lebanon back to 1980? As an American I am aware of the role of my country in the Middle East, and although I hope most people make the distinction between a government and its citizens, but the US did not directly bomb Lebanon. Although some people reacted badly to you as an Israeli, that does not necessarily translate to danger and risk for you. I think the perceived danger of an Israeli in Lebanon was inaccurate as well--Elie Wiesel has been to Lebanon several times to give lectures and he had no issues there. As a woman you would have been protected and treated well despite your Israeli nationality. Your perceived threat characterizes the Lebanese as savages in a way and defeats the purpose of your visit to Lebanon.

As for the Lebanese Army they tend to be very professional--it is excellent that the Syrian troops are out of Lebanon. If they found out your status they might have deported you, but nothing bad would have happened to you.

Finally, as someone who has visited both Beirut and Tel Aviv it should come as no surprise that the two cities have a lot in common--as the modern State of Israel is only 59 years old. The Levant is a crossroads of Western and Eastern cultures predating the modern State of Israel and the Republic of Lebanon, so of course it is more cosmopolitan than neighboring kingdoms and republics.

Posted by: Lebanon Lover at August 21, 2007 04:26 PM

Lebanon Lover: As a woman you would have been protected and treated well despite your Israeli nationality.

By the average person, perhaps, but not by everybody.

The average person in Baghdad wouldn't harm me either, but a certain percentage would. Which is why I went with the Army.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 21, 2007 04:31 PM

Lisa: "Lebanese citizens with second passports are not prevented from entering Israel or from reporting from Israel. They might be taken aside for extra questioning at the airport, which can be irksome and time consuming, but that's all. So no, it is not against Israeli law for Lebanese to enter Israel."

Are you serious? Yes, it is illegal for a Lebanese traveling to Israel on a Lebanese passport to enter Israel. A Lebanese entering on a non-Lebanese passport (US, EU, Canada) is no longer seen as Lebanese according to international law but is under the protection of the nation(s) issuing the passport. So when you say: "So no, it is not against Israeli law for Lebanese to enter Israel," that is imprecise.

It is impossible to visit Israel with a passport from an Arab state other than Jordan and Egypt, and after the War last summer definitely impossible with a Lebanese passport. In fact even a Lebanese visa in your passport will cause problems upon entry to Israel. I am a non- Lebanese American and my visit to Lebanon last year was not appreciated by the Israeli border entry officials at all. I was made to wait for hours before they approved my entry.

Posted by: Lebanon Lover at August 21, 2007 04:45 PM

in war there is no confiscation. there is winning or losing. get over it already after 60 odd years and so many wars in the meanwhile.

I was talking to a friend of mine about this fairweather sentiment by many Americans and Israelis, and immediately, this is what he had to say about it: "Tell him, 'Next year in Jerusalem.'"

Posted by: Beiruti at August 23, 2007 04:20 AM

hehe...Beiruti...I know what you mean!! Moshe...I guess it's absurd to remember all of this history, isn't it?...but, I lift my glass: Next year in Jerusalem.

Posted by: Jabali at August 23, 2007 05:11 AM

Beiruti,

Next year in Jerusalem.

The longer it takes you to come to terms with Israel, the longer your country will stagnate and the more of your children will be denied the prosperous future they deserve.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at August 23, 2007 09:18 AM

Next year in Jerusalem.

What is that supposed to mean? A declaration of war?

How about you go blow yourself up and leave everyone else alone.

And get off my blog.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 23, 2007 09:40 AM

Do I have to spell it out for you? Moshe said that Palestinians should just "get over it already" after 60 years. But much of Diaspora Judaism, from the breaking of a glass at a wedding (symbolizing the destruction of the second temple) to the toast of "next year in Jerusalem" at Passover sedarim is specifically about not "getting over it already."

But if an Arab says it, it must be a declaration of war and you invite him to go blow himself up? I'm glad to see you're so open-minded, Michael. I guess I expected more from someone who claims to understand the Arab world. That last comment of yours seems blatantly racist. How disappointing.

Posted by: Beiruti at August 24, 2007 12:40 AM

Beiruti,

Eh, you're not an Arab. You're an unhappy British United Nations employee. I know you who are.

Ok, so "Next Year in Jerusalem" is a Jewish phrase. Cool. Didn't know that. Sorry for misreading you. I'm not an "expert" on anything, let alone Jews.

But I still know who you are so you can stop pretending to be somebody else. It's not true that no one on the Internet knows you're a dog.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 24, 2007 01:16 AM

OMG LOL
this is hilarious, hahahaa

Posted by: tsedek at August 24, 2007 04:16 AM

Wrong and wrong. You obviously don't have the faintest idea who I am, so I'm sorry you've mixed that one up. What, do you want to see my passport? Come to town, and I'd be happy to show it to you.

As for "see you in Jerusalem," I should have known that you wouldn't even get the reference. And I wholeheartedly agree that you obviously aren't an expert on anything, so far as I can see.

I'm a dog, eh? You really are infantile, aren't you? The more discerning of your readers can judge for themselves who's a dog based on who is resulting to crass name-calling and wishing violence upon others.

I thought maybe this thread could be used for civil dialogue, but apparently I was wrong. And in a very big way.

Posted by: Beiruti at August 24, 2007 06:00 AM

Beiruti,

I'm a dog, eh? You really are infantile, aren't you?

Now it's your turn to have missed a reference.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at August 24, 2007 06:52 AM

Resorting, even.

Posted by: Beiruti at August 24, 2007 07:14 AM

Beiruti,

I should have known you wouldn't get the dog reference. You aren't an expert on anything, near as I can tell. That's fine, neither am I.

Hey, I admit I'm guessing when I assume your name is Sean C. Lee. I have no proof, but your writing style and insults are identical to his. I do recognize intellectual architecture when I see it. One thing I do know well is writing. Perhaps you are accidentally similar. It happens, although I still think I'm right and that your name is Sean.

In any case, you are uncivil enough that my good friend Lisa Goldman, who is a very nice and tolerant person, can't tolerate a single comment of yours on her blog. When she tells me you are too nasty to be published, I believe her.

This was the first thing I learned about you. You got banned as a troll from her site, then came over and slagged her here instead.

If you wanted civility you got off to a very bad start.

And if your name isn't Sean, pray tell what is it?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 24, 2007 10:48 AM

And if your name isn't Sean, pray tell what is it?

Yankel.

Posted by: Edgar at August 24, 2007 12:35 PM

I should have known you wouldn't get the dog reference. You aren't an expert on anything, near as I can tell. That's fine, neither am I.

Hah! The difference, Michael, is that I don't have a blog, much less one in which I purport to know about cartoons that appeared in American magazines. You, on the other hand, have one on the Middle East. So there's that.

If you must know, my name is Houssam. (Again, let me know if you come to Beirut, and I'll be happy to show you my passport.) I've never posted anything on Goldman's site, although judging from what she and Jabali each said above, I imagine that she'd delete it if I did.

I did read one dissenting comment on her site, and she was accusing the person who left it of being the journalism prof she'd just finished debating because their arguments were similar. It sounds like Ms Goldman has some serious paranoia issues.

Finally, if my arguments sound familiar, it might be because other people share them. All of the Lebanese people I've spoken to about the incident (mostly friends and family) have felt more or less the same way that I do. But to hear her speak, all of the feedback from Lebanon has been super positive. Maybe only those with positive responses have written her, but I highly doubt it, especially since just in this comments thread, there's someone who said his remarks were deleted.

So just to recap, you're saying that I'm uncivil (presumably enough that you feel comfortable telling me to go blow myself up) based on a third party who says that I'm some old British guy whom she's banned from her blog. Are you serious? Here's a thought, why don't you judge my comments on their content rather than on who a friend of yours says she thinks is making them. That might be a good place to start and save you from sounding silly to boot.

For the record, I've got a hunch that Creamy Goodness's name might not actually be creamy or goodness, and my astute analytical skills tell me that his writing belongs to someone named crunchy, because believe you me, if there are two things I know well, they're crunch and writing!

Posted by: Beiruti at August 24, 2007 02:50 PM

Well, Beiruti, you may be who you say you are, but I still have my doubts. If I get bored I'll do some detective work in my server files and find out.

In the meantime, I have some real writing to do.

I don't mind people using anonymous handles (like Creamy Goodness) but if you are indeed Sean C. Lee you know damn well why I don't approve of you doing it after thrashing out identical arguments using identical language previously on my blog and via email.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 24, 2007 02:56 PM

Beiruti/Houssam -

I think we can summarize all your posts in this thread into a one-line statement: you are not happy with the fact that I went to Lebanon and reported on my visit for the Israeli media, as an Israeli citizen. Got it. I don't think there's anything I can do or say that would cause you to rethink your position, so let's just agree to disagree and move on.

BTW, I did not accuse the commenter you refer to of being Ramez Malouf. I said his arguments were exactly the same as the professor's, and that I disagreed.

Lebanon Lover - You addressed my point in a parallel line. You were held up at security before entering Israel, but after the checks were completed you were allowed to enter the country. Same thing goes for an Iranian-Canadian I hosted last year, my Lebanese friends who have dual citizenship and my Finnish friend who has never visited an Arab country in his life.

Security is tight at Israeli border controls. The point is that once you're in the country, you're in legally. No-one will stop you from moving around freely, and no-one will accuse you of breaking the law if you write about your trip for the Lebanese media after you leave the country. I would not have minded waiting for a security check at Rafik Hariri Airport if I could have then wandered Lebanon freely, openly telling people that I am reporting for the Israeli media.

But again, I suspect that your real problem with me is not what I wrote or did, but simply that I am an Israeli citizen. And I doubt there's anything I could say or do to influence your opinion.

Posted by: Lisa at August 24, 2007 11:41 PM

Lisa,

Having been to both Israel and Lebanon, I love both countries! Both are my favorite places to travel and so much fun! I love the Lebanese and Israelis the same, because both peoples do have so much in common. On a more personal note, I do have an affinity for Israeli women--very beautiful!

It is true that once I was inside Israel, no one ever asked to see my passport again, unlike Lebanon where uniformed personnel asked to see my passport everywhere I went. My point was that in entering Israel, I felt I was penalized for visiting Lebanon. I was the last person to be allowed into Israel at that border entry that day, AFTER all the Palestinians had been allowed to go through. I was traveling with a group of people from all over the world, some who had been to Syria even, and everyone else got into Israel with no problems.

Posted by: Lebanon Lover at August 27, 2007 11:27 AM
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