May 2, 2006

Correction

I need to post a correction. I would have done so as an update to the original post, but I didn’t realize I erred until it was too late. So I’m putting it right here at the top of the main page where it won’t be buried.

I quoted Lisa Goldman:
I have Palestinian friends who say things I don’t like at all. They say they want to destroy Israel, that it has no right to exist.
Except that’s not what she said. She and I were hanging out socially in a bar. I was not formally interviewing her, as I formally interviewed these guys. So I wrote down a few key things she said after I got back to my hotel room.

What she actually said is that (some of) her Palestinian friends wish Israel would disappear, not that they want to destroy it.

The distinction seems subtle. The first version is active, the second is passive. That seemingly subtle distinction, though, puts her friends dramatically at odds with Hamas. She explained it to me in an email:
I told you that I have Palestinian friends who are angry at Israel, who wish it would disappear (and we all wish things in our hearts, while knowing they won't happen; I'm sure lots of Israelis wish the Palestinians would just disappear, too) and who long for a one-state solution. Sometimes they say ignorant things against Israel, and once a Palestinian cameraman told me that he wished I could express some empathy for the suicide bombers (I couldn't). That does not mean he supports the suicide bombers. He doesn't, and he told me so explicitly. I do not have any Palestinian friends who wish actively for Israel's destruction. All of them condemn the suicide bombers. They might not like that Israel exists, but they have come to terms with its existence. What they want is an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and a sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

Oh, and when I told you that those friends love me, I also told you that I love them. ;) These are friends who call me to express sympathy when there's a suicide bombing in Israel, or who have gone to a lot of trouble to help me get interviews with Palestinian politicians. They never let me pay for my meals when I meet them at cafes in Ramallah, they take time off work to drive me around and introduce me to people and they invite me freely into their homes. They are almost all journalists.

On the other hand, I have met and spoke to Hamas activists - which is a very weird experience, especially because they know I'm Israeli and they speak to me in Hebrew. I mean, they're supposed to want to destroy me, but they are always courteous - even hospitable. That's the cognitive dissonance that makes me differentiate between rhetoric and reality. I don't trust Hamas, of course, and they are not my friends. I never forget about the suicide bombings for which they are responsible. But I know some of those people. I know it's weird, but I do. And so do lots of other Israeli journalists, by the way.
She got piled on in my comments section, surely in part because I misquoted her. I apologize to everyone.

Lisa is a friend, so I'm doubly sorry and hereby apologize to her twice.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at May 2, 2006 11:25 AM
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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