A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

bangs and whimpers: Katyusha rockets & Israeli journalists

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on July 13, 2007

Today began with a literal bang here, at least for some Lebanese, with five Katyusha rockets fired two two and one at a time in the north, presumably in some connection with Fatah al-Islam. Why are these rockets so popular here? They don’t seem to work particularly well- I don’t get the sense that one can aim with them, and surely today’s militants have access to much more effective options.

For Tayyar and the rest of the opposition media, the day seems to have been newsworthy for another reason: the revelation that yet another Israeli journalist has been in Lebanon in recent days. This story was originally from Manar:

مرة جديدة.. مراسلة إسرائيلية ثانية في بنت جبيل

Surprise, surprise: its a political thing. Two days ago, Tayyar published a Sawt al-Ghad piece on Israeli journalist Lisa Goldman that ended with the following critique:

وثمة سؤال آخر هل يستطيع فريق من تبقى من حكومة السنيورة الإجابة عن السؤال: أين هي هذه المراسلة الآن داخل الأراضي اللبنانية ام خارجها؟ فهل من يجيب … ام أن لا حياة لمن تنادي؟

And then a final question: Can a group of what remains of the Siniora government answer the question: where is she now, this correspondent, inside the Lebanese land or outside it? followed by a further little dig.

Personally, I have no problem with Israeli journalists coming here to cover Lebanon, as long as they cover the news fairly. But then of course I’m not Lebanese – and I do recognize that their coming here violates both the letter and the spirit of Lebanese law.

No one with an Israeli passport or Israeli stamps on his/her passport is allowed to enter Lebanon. (The first prohibition is because the two countries are at war; the second also supports the Arab economic boycott of things Israeli and corporations that do business there.) I have a sinking suspicion that these journalists are all American, and enter Lebanon under false pretenses as tourists or, as in the case of the one today, as journalists for non-Israeli papers. Hence those who do come in are neither honest nor legal.

Meanwhile, we’ve found another one, whose latest article we were just reading this afternoon, and who makes what I consider the unforgivable error of citing interviewees by first and last name. Journalists can leave the country; Lebanese citizens whose loyalty is thrown under suspicion because their names appear in an Israeli news outlet are much more vulnerable.

Despite the rich array of more substantive news events, both new and ongoing, Tayyar and the rest of the opposition media appear determined to twist their knickers over the fifth column potential of Israeli journalists infiltrating the south, so I’m sure they’ll find this third one soon. Happy hunting, murasileen al-muqawama, and bravo for keeping your priorities so straight.

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6 Responses to “bangs and whimpers: Katyusha rockets & Israeli journalists”

  1. The thing that upsets me about so many of the critiques of Lisa’s visit is that the critics always cite Lebanese law. Since when has Lebanese law ever been enforced? The most important thing is whether or not she knew someone above the law who smoothed the way for her. That’s why I prefer the sinister Sawt al Ghad/Manar analysis that claim the government subsidised her way. Although those charges are ridiculous, at least they’re culturally/legally relevant.

  2. Mmm I assume she entered on a tourist visa, using a North American passport – she doesn’t appear to have entered as a journalist, so the fault is hers for lying rather than the government’s for not catching her.

    I think the anger here is not at the violation of Lebanese law but comes from the widespread (i.e., not only Lebanese) fear that journalists may also be spies.

    If these two were men, rather than women, I think the story would be much bigger news and the issue treated more gravely. And it is growing: Tayyar has posed an article from today’s issue of al-Akhbar, with Minister of Information Aridi himself explaining the situation: http://www.tayyar.org/tayyar/articles.php?type=press_news&article_id=30785.

  3. MacDara said

    The fact is she has been here twice , the first time as a tourist using her Canadian passport the second time as a freelance journalist using her Lebanese passport. Personally I don’t see what the issue is , who cares what country she is from? So what if she reports from here/ there are many Pro bloggers coming here freely with out mentioning they are journalists? Also there are many Lebanese in Israel using foreign passports so who cares?

    Anyway the immigration in Lebanon is run predominantly by Shiites so its not a political conspiracy on behalf of the Government. If they start reporting the things that are not true then let other reporters contradict them as in all free societies.

  4. Lisa said

    Er, do you speak Hebrew? If you did, you would know that I did not make the “unforgivable error” of quoting people by their first and last names. In fact, I deliberately avoided asking interviewees for their surnames. Since I didn’t know what their surnames were, I certainly could not have used them.

    Raees, since you know me personally, and since you know very well that I had absolutely no help from anyone in entering Beirut or moving around the city, I would have expected you to offer a more spirited defense than the anodyne, innuendo-influenced comment you left on this thread.

  5. Lisa said

    Oh, one more thing. My report was not political and does not include any interviews with public figures. I entered the country with my Canadian passport (which has no Israeli visa stamps in it), and I used a small handheld camera to film street scenes – just like any tourist. I did not broadcast live from Lebanon, either.

    In Israel there are many Arab journalists – most recently a reporter for Syrian television who did a report from the Golan Heights – who make non-political, pre-recorded TV reports without government press accreditation. Accreditation is needed only for entering the Knesset or closed military areas. Otherwise, no-one can stop a person from walking the streets and taking photographs in a democratic state. I suspect the policy is much the same in Lebanon.

  6. Hey Lisa,

    Are you referring to “Meanwhile, we’ve found another one, whose latest article we were just reading this afternoon, and who makes what I consider the unforgivable error of citing interviewees by first and last name”? I think its quite clear that I am not referring to you but to a third, print journalist. As long as you identifed yourself and the television station you were reporting for clearly to those you spoke to in a professional, rather than tourist, capacity, I think you have met the requirements for ethical journalism.

    As for Raees’ comment, I think he assumed that you had to declare yourself a journalist when you entered. I don’t think he was intending to attack you.

    In Lebanon one can be stopped from ‘walking the streets and taking photographs’ – after all, its not really a democracy. For example, the early morning bread photographs I took aroused the concern of a nearby shopkeeper, who called the derek over. To be fair, the derek was totally uninterested in the security issue of a foreign woman taking pictures of Arabic bread, but … sometimes they are interested, and about equally innocuous things.

    Anyway. I found your photos on flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/38128614@N00/sets/72157600580098696/ is the link to the longer album) while looking for something on Gemmayze, and not only are they lovely, but they are also quite respectful of Lebanese citizens’ safety. I notice you have beautiful street and interior shots, but almost no faces, which I found very considerate.

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