On May 15, 2003, the Palestine-Israel Journal held a roundtable
discussion at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem on media and
the second Intifada. The participants were journalist and PIJ board
member, Khaled abu Aker, Haaretz military correspondent, Amos
Harel, Yediot Ahronot's correspondent for the Occupied Territories,
Ronni Shaked, and Radio France Internationale correspondent and TV
producer, Elias Zananiri. The moderator was Simon Wilson, senior
producer in the BBC's Middle East bureau.
Mr Wilson: My initial thoughts, as a journalist who has
covered conflicts in many areas of the world, is that this is
undoubtedly the most covered, or over-covered, story in the world -
but it's perhaps under-covered in crucial areas, like the question
of Yasser Arafat's possible links with terror, or what Ariel Sharon
is really up to. Has anyone come to grips with these questions in
either the domestic or international media?
Mr Shaked: On the first day of the second Intifada, I wrote
that it's not an Intifada, but a real war. Sharon on the Temple
Mount was a shock for me. I am an Israeli, but I made a great
effort to look for the truth and to make the people - my readers in
Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem - understand what happened, why this
war broke out and who the players are.
I wrote a lot about what the Palestinians think about the Israelis,
about what they want from this war. And that's what I am still
doing because, as I said, it's not going to be a short war. We are
now just at the beginning of a political process, I hope, but it's
going to take a long time.
It's not easy to be an Israeli journalist in this war and have your
office on Jaffa Street - a car bomb exploded under my window and I
covered that story in the paper. Nor is it easy to then go to
Nablus and see your Palestinian friend who was injured by an
Israeli tank. I do my best not to let my emotions affect the truth,
but it's not always easy. It's my country. I live under the threat
I know that my job is to show people everything that's happening
here, the ugly things and the good things, to give them tools to
use in elections so they will have the opportunity to vote, not
from their stomachs, but from their heads. If you ask me if I've
succeeded, I'd say no.
Mr Zananiri: I started in this business back in 1976 with
the al-Fajer daily, when it was considered the mouthpiece of the
PLO, an ultra-nationalist newspaper. Since 1988, I've been working
with foreign media organisations including WTN, MBC, Khalifa TV
News and Radio France Internationale. I have the luxury of being
sort of an outsider, in spite of the fact that I am Palestinian;
reading what the Palestinian newspapers write, listening to the
radio, and watching the BBC, while at the same time reading the
Israeli newspapers to get a view of how the Israeli press, and
other media, are handling the Intifada. When you spend enough years
in this business, you become capable of seeing where A and B made a
mistake and C was successful.
With regard to how the media in general address this Intifada, we
have a terminology problem. Intifada has become a euphemism for
suicide attacks, and that is a mistake that the Palestinian,
Israeli and the foreign media have fallen into. Most people, when
they hear the term Intifada, think only of suicide bombers in
Herzliya, Netanya or wherever. The real, limited sense of the word
Intifada - uprising - was what happened back in 1987, with mass
demonstrations and stone-throwing and so on - a popular uprising
against Israeli troops.
The second Intifada began a dark tunnel of mutual escalation. Even
so-called popular or passive acts of resistance began to disappear
and were replaced by the wave of suicide bombings. Some
Palestinians argued that suicide bombings are essential because
somebody has to send the message to the Israeli public that this is
what they'll get if they carry on with the occupation. I wasn't
convinced. My argument was that, if that's the message, it has
already been understood on the Israeli side. These attacks should
come to an end or they will boomerang and we will be shooting
ourselves, not in the foot, but in the head.
I wrote an article about this in a Palestinian daily in Ramallah
more than a year ago. There were very sensitive paragraphs
addressing the issue of how bad suicide bombings are, how the
Palestinians are repeating the same mistakes of 1970, when we
allowed extremists and radical left-wingers to hijack and blow up
planes. Today, we are making the same mistake in allowing these
kinds of activities to go on. The Palestinian dream of statehood
will disappear. Parts of what I wrote were deleted.
Mr Harel: I have been military correspondent for Haaretz for
the past five-and-a-half years. I think the Israeli public is bored
stiff with the Intifada. I'm not sure how aware the Palestinians
are of that, but if you talk to the average guy on the Israeli
street, he would like to talk about anything but the violence. The
same goes for most newspaper editors.
For the average Israeli, what's going on in the West Bank could be
happening on the other side of the moon. Soldiers, reservists,
settlers and peace activists all together comprise less than 10
percent of the Israeli population. My father hasn't been in the
territories for 20 years; my wife for 10 or 15; my daughter, never.
To them, it's something that happens on TV.
Three or four years ago, innocent Palestinian civilians shot by
Israeli troops was big news. Not anymore. You can have an incursion
in Gaza with 10 or 15 people killed, and it makes it to about page
15 in Yediot Ahronot - half a page, not more, on the bottom of the
The only time Israelis are interested in the conflict is when
terror strikes them. Apart from that, there's a very big gap
between Palestinians and Israelis. From what I hear about
Palestinian media, their whole life has to do with this and that's
why these are the major stories all the time. It's not like that
with the Israeli media, and the average Israeli reader would like
to hear about it even less than he already does today.
We are all emotionally involved - not only are you in danger
because of what you do, and of course, we know how many of our
Palestinian colleagues have either been killed or wounded - it's
part of your life, so we can't be detached. For Palestinians under
occupation all the time, it's impossible to sit back and watch it
as if you were in London. I think that many of us on the Israeli
side are now reaching the painful conclusion that this conflict is
actually almost impossible to resolve. The level of hate on both
sides is terrible.
There was an incident when 12 Israeli soldiers were killed in
Hebron in November, including the highest-ranking Israeli officer
killed in the Intifada, Commander Dror Weinberg of the Hebron area.
Dror was religious; the speeches at his funeral made by rabbis and
friends of the family were amazing. It was like a concentrated dose
of settler messianic Judaism. I left there with the feeling that,
no matter what happens, even if we reach some kind of solution with
the Palestinians, it will be almost impossible to tear these people
out of what they see as their land. For me, this was a wake-up
call. This was the greatest example I've seen of how hard this is
going to be to solve.
Mr Abu Aker: I've known Ronni since I worked for a daily
newspaper in East Jerusalem. Our relationship was the result of the
intense Israeli military censorship we were subjected to at that
time. In order to publish stories, we used to play a cat-and-mouse
game. By calling Ronni, or another Israeli journalist, and giving
them the story, it would be covered in the Israeli press, and then
translated into Arabic. Then the censorship authorities were told
that the source was Yediot or Ma'ariv, etc., so it could be
At that time, the relationship between journalists was very
important to avoid having the IDF spokesman as the sole source of
information. It allowed alternative information about what was
going on in the field to be transmitted from Palestinian
journalists to Israeli journalists.
That kind of relationship helped both sides learn from each other.
Those contacts with Israeli and foreign journalists helped me learn
what it really means to be a professional. But relationships
created before and during the first Intifada have nearly
disappeared in the second Intifada. Both sides have gone back to
their old positions, looking at the other as the enemy. The
priority is now to cover the suffering of your own people, full
stop, without getting the Israeli version.
This is a setback for Palestinian and Israeli media. There is no
readiness among the editors or the population to listen to the
point of view of the other side, or to listen to the voices of
reason, if they exist, on both sides.
My colleagues tell me that they follow the instructions of the
editors and that editors don't want any stories beyond Intifada
stories. It's frustrating for someone who has witnessed how the
Palestinian press covered stories before and after Oslo to see how
news is being covered now. It is very important, in my opinion, to
acknowledge that both sides are playing a destructive role by
inciting against each other. Palestinian journalists who work with
the foreign press prove that they are professionals, and not just a
group of people who only want to spread propaganda.
Mr Wilson: Ronni, I'll ask you bluntly: Haven't Israeli
journalists failed to explain what's happening to the Israeli
public? Isn't that proven by Israeli society's lack of interest in
what's happening in the territories, which allows a master
politician like Sharon to get away with policies that Israelis
wouldn't have approved of years ago?
Mr Shaked: No. I don't think we failed. I think it's the
failure of the public. They ignored what they were reading. In the
first year of the second Intifada, I wrote 42 articles, starting
with interviews with Marwan Barghouti, Sheikh Yassin and Arafat.
But the people who read them ignored them. They hated me. They
hated the newspaper. So it's not us. It's the people. It's the
situation. We tried.
I want to say something very important about what Khaled said. The
cooperation we have from everybody in this Intifada - from Hamas,
from Islamic Jihad, from wanted people - is surprisingly open and
easy. If I want to talk with the head of the Tanzim, there's no
problem. I have his telephone number. He calls me. Yesterday, I got
a telephone call from refugees inside the Ashkelon jail. There was
a lot of cooperation about getting to Arafat or [security chief
We even have very good cooperation with all the Palestinian
journalists working in the field: in Nablus, Jenin, Hebron, Gaza,
Rafah and Khan Yunis. I think I can reach every one of them, talk
with them freely and get everything I need with no problem. My
problem, as a journalist covering the territories, is how to
influence my editor to print all the news I bring him. Sometimes
not even 10 percent of what I write appears in the newspaper.
Mr Wilson: Censorship?
Mr Shaked: It's not censorship. It's just not sexy.
Palestinians are not selling the newspaper anymore. The owner of
Yediot wants one thing - money. He wants everybody to read the
newspaper. Therefore, if there's a love story between a Palestinian
girl and an Israeli soldier, that's going to be on the front
Mr Wilson: Why is it so different on the Palestinian
Mr Zananiri: Ronni just said that he wrote articles that
were never published simply because there was no interest.
Regardless of what Ronni writes or doesn't write, the Gaza
incursion was a half-page story on the bottom of page 15, while a
terror attack would be on the front page. The same thing applies on
the Palestinian side. When there's a bombing attack inside Israel,
you'd see that on the front page of the newspaper, sometimes a huge
banner headline. I was at the northern border long before the
Israelis withdrew from Lebanon, with Foreign Press Association
journalists. An Israeli colonel talking about Hizbollah referred to
them in Hebrew as fighters. I asked why he called Hizbollah
fighters when the Israelis refer to Palestinians as terrorists. He
replied, "That's a good question, but you will not get the answer
you want. We are in Lebanon." I was not referring to Palestinians
in Lebanon, but to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
Palestinians are branded terrorists by the Israeli media.
Mr Wilson: If you're down in Gaza and a Palestinian shoots
an Israeli soldier, is he a terrorist?
Mr Harel: The Haaretz term usually is Palestinian gunman.
And a soldier is never murdered, he is always killed. But when it's
a civilian, even Haaretz has changed. We used to say settlers were
killed. Now we say murdered. Because of the general shift in the
Israeli media, Haaretz has also moved more to the center. In a
confrontation strictly between armed gunmen and the IDF, Haaretz
would usually say gunmen.
Mr Wilson: A government spokesman is allowed to get away
with calling any Palestinian with a gun anywhere shooting anyone a
terrorist. Certainly in Yediot or on TV.
Mr Zananiri: There has been a change in the way the Israeli
media is covering these kinds of attacks. For example, the attack
in Hebron where the 12 soldiers were killed - right after it took
place everybody on the Israeli side was saying, "Terror attack in
Hebron, Israelis killed." I was yelling, "Are they crazy? Why did
they open fire at worshippers, even if they were settlers?" It took
around 20 minutes to find out what happened. We have seen the
Israeli media trend of misleading the public to make you think, at
least for the first 24 hours, that every shooting on the West Bank
is a terrorist incident involving civilians. Two days later, we
find out that, out of eight killed, seven were soldiers.
Mr Harel: I don't agree. Usually the truth is found out very
quickly. In 10 or 15 minutes, the reporters know who is a civilian
and who is a soldier. But for the first few hours, the military
censor doesn't allow you to say that these were soldiers killed.
You have to say Israelis - not civilians. This is because the
families of those who died should be informed of their deaths
before they hear about them on the radio. The public understands
that this means soldiers. I agree with my colleague about the
events in Hebron. There was an attempt by Israeli politicians, the
Foreign Ministry spokesperson and so on, to call it a massacre. It
took us exactly half an hour to know the truth.
The analysis I wrote on Sunday morning said there was no massacre
in Hebron. It was a confrontation between armed people on both
sides. What's sad for us is that the Palestinians won. Three armed
Palestinians managed to kill 12 soldiers. This was the analysis for
which I got the worst hate mail in the last two years. I was called
a PLO supporter, a Hamas supporter, by American Jews.
Mr Wilson: Join the club. I want to stay with the issue of
language. Khaled, you're reporting: Suicide bomber, martyr or
Mr Abu Aker: It depends. One of the arguments, for example,
is when to use martyrdom attack or military attack. Even the
official newspapers supported by the Palestinian Authority that are
officially against the suicide bombings use the phrase martyrdom
Mr Wilson: Isn't this part of the incitement that Israel
accuses the Palestinians of?
Mr Abu Aker: This is a situation where a society is involved
in a struggle against occupation.
The influence of the Palestinian press is minimal in comparison
with the influence of the Israeli press. I cannot say that more
than 10 percent of the population read the newspapers every
Mr Wilson: What does al-Jazeera use on this topic?
Mr Abu Aker: I think it's military attack, sometimes
martyrdom. It depends on the reporter or the editor.
Mr Zananiri: For me, it's simple. A martyr is whoever is
shot dead by the Israelis, by the Israeli army. Somebody who
commits a suicide attack inside Israel, I simply call him what he
is - a suicide bomber. Even when I wrote for newspapers in
Ramallah, I used to call it a suicide attack.
Mr Shaked: And your editor changed it.
Mr Zananiri: In my articles, no. The media has been pulled
into this process of radicalization. Patriotism, on some occasions,
becomes a higher priority - at the expense of professionalism. Let
me say one thing that I know will irritate many of my Palestinian
colleagues: If you compare Israeli newspapers and Palestinian
newspapers, there's a much greater chance of finding, in the
Israeli press, a human-interest story about a tragic incident on
the Palestinian side than there is of finding that kind of story in
a Palestinian newspaper. You'll never find one.
The Arab press still wants their audience to listen to them, and
sometimes ratings come at the expense of professionalism. But the
Palestinian media doesn't function in a full-fledged independent
state where they should be judged by the rules of the free press in
the free world.
Palestinians working for foreign outputs have the luxury of looking
in from the outside. There's no boss saying, "Why do you call them
suicide bombers. Write it differently."
There is a tendency of radicalization on both sides. In the first
months of the uprising, 68 percent of Israelis were in favor of it.
I remember an article A.B. Yehoshua published in Haaretz calling
for the settlers to leave the Occupied Territories and not to
impose their destiny on the rest of the Israelis. You hardly hear
this kind of opinion today. Why? Thanks to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and
some elements of Fateh, public opinion has switched. You can't find
Israelis who understand the Palestinians. For them, it's all
Mr Wilson: Amos, is there more journalists could do on the
Israeli side to make people more interested in what's
Mr Harel: I'm not sure. The public is exhausted by the
conflict. The hatred is tremendous on both sides. I don't think
it's ever been like this before. When you feel you are under siege,
there's not much you want to know about the other side's
Mr Wilson: What pressures are you under to put the army
point of view across?
Mr Harel: I am sick and tired of media critics inside
Israel, most of them from the left, asserting that all military
correspondents in Israel are just part of the army institution and
so on. It's not exactly true. Different reporters do different
Mr Wilson: Have you ever felt pressure, self-imposed or from
your paper, not to report something?
Mr Harel: Not from Haaretz. There are self-imposed
restrictions every now and then, I must admit. Sometimes you say,
"Okay, 10 soldiers were just killed. I don't want to deal today
with the fact two people were arrested and left without water for
five hours. I'll deal with it tomorrow." A lot of my stories put
the army in a very tough spot. I was the first Israeli reporter
covering the Israeli side of the conflict to publish stories about
Israeli soldiers looting during Defensive Shield. Amira Hass wrote
about it before from the Palestinian side. It made a lot of noise.
There were headlines, follow-ups and international coverage. When
the BBC called me, I said I didn't want to be interviewed. It was
two weeks into Defensive Shield and there were funerals of Israeli
civilians and soldiers almost every day. I thought it was my
professional obligation to publish the story, but I didn't want to
follow it up. I knew there were enough good journalists who were
going to use it.
Mr Abu Aker: Haaretz said they lost subscribers as a result
of the coverage of two people - Amira Hass and Gideon Levy. This is
a clear indication readers don't want to hear about Palestinian
Mr Wilson: We know that Ronni and Amira Hass come and go in
the territories. Are there Palestinian journalists who move around
Mr Abu Aker: Palestinians are aware of everything that is
going on in Israeli society. They follow the Israeli press and
watch Israeli TV. But professional journalists are treated by the
Israeli army as suspicious. I am one of the lucky few who can move
around. I am from Jerusalem and have an Israeli press card. I can
go from Ramallah to Bethlehem to Tulkarem.
For a short period of time, I was denied my Israeli press card.
Then, when my media outlet threatened to sue and hired an Israeli
lawyer, Gilad Sher, they reconsidered their position. Still, I was
summoned to the office of the director-general of the GPO
(Government Press Office), and he started questioning me as if I
was a meeting an Israeli intelligence officer.
I have colleagues in Hebron who have not been able to go to
Ramallah for two years. Those in Ramallah can't go to Nablus, etc.
Local reporters cover the story in each city, but still have
difficulty getting access to a village next to the city where there
was an incident. Coverage of the story becomes totally different.
Many reporters depend on the phone to cover the story, and not on
going into the field.
Mr Wilson: Some people reading these discussions might be
surprised that Israeli journalists move around in the territories
as Israeli citizens, in general, don't. How many journalists do
what you do, and how has that affected the coverage in Israel
Mr Shaked: I think not more than 10 Israeli journalists go
into the territories. Israeli television has to go with bodyguards
and so on. When I go to Nablus, first of all, I'm a Jew. I'm sorry
to say that one of my most terrible times was when I heard people
start yelling Yehudi, and then start chasing me. When I go to
Nablus, I have to take somebody from Hamas or Tanzim or the others
Mr Wilson: There are reports that people want to kidnap the
few Israelis who do go into the territories. Do you view that as a
Mr Shaked: Sometimes I am frightened to go. Sometimes I get
phone calls from Tanzim or Hamas telling me not to even try to come
to Gaza after I wrote an article against Hamas. But I go. I know
those people are talking from their emotions. Perhaps they're
prepared to do something, but I have to do my job to bring the
truth to the Israeli readers.
Sometimes I can't go by car. I have to take a Palestinian taxi or
go with other people. Because of insurance, when I go from
Jerusalem to Nablus, I have to go in an armored car or I'm not
allowed to go. Even though my car has TV on it in big letters,
sometimes that's not enough.
Mr Zananiri: Most of the Palestinian journalists who live in
the West Bank and Gaza have no permits to come to Jerusalem or
enter Israel. A whole generation of journalists on the Palestinian
side has only one side of events, either a follow-up from Arafat's
office or an Israeli army incursion, or whatever. They don't see
the story on the Israeli side.
If it were not for the articles that reach them through the media,
like the ones written by Ronni and others, they wouldn't have a
clue about what goes on inside Israel or behind the barbed wire.
This is a big problem. The Palestinians need to understand how
Israelis think. Once, when I was working with French television,
there was a suicide attack on a bus outside Haifa. I was 20 minutes
away. We arrived while they were literally still pulling bodies out
of the bus. That was the first time in my life that I saw this in
person. It was terrible. I had tears in my eyes. That same week, my
team was the first to get into Jenin camp on April 14. Again, the
same kind of thing, bodies here and there, destruction. As a human
being, you have to feel. Even as a Palestinian seeing Israeli
victims. As a journalist, when you have the chance to go to both
sides, you also have the privilege of understanding the agony of
the other side. Once you understand that, it becomes easier for you
to present the case. The morning after a suicide attack in Tel
Aviv, I stood in front of the camera, reporting in Arabic. People
around me started yelling. They couldn't even understand what I was
saying. Had they understood, maybe they would have shut up and
listened. I was saying that this kind of attack is only detrimental
to the Palestinians. It will boomerang. Many people believe that,
but sometimes it's difficult to make the point clear.
Mr Wilson: Let's talk about the changes in technology
between the two Intifadas. The Internet has arrived, and on the
Palestinian side, there's been a complete revolution in terms of
satellite television coverage. How have these changes affected the
Mr Zananiri: You have reactions in real time. That's the
main change. During the first Intifada, there were no Arab
satellite stations. The first one, MBC, started in 1991. Today, you
have loads of Arab satellite stations and the minute something
happens, they go live. The day the Israeli army besieged Arafat's
compound and there were live pictures, we saw people taking to the
streets after midnight in Ramallah because they saw what was
happening in Arafat's compound.
Mr Abu Aker: It's very important to understand that the
Palestinian press, I am sad to say, doesn't influence the
population. Even Israeli television is more influential than
Palestinian media. People are more influenced by Arab satellites
than by local Palestinian media. Of course, people are pushing
journalists to cover the story the way they want it. They want to
hear more about their own suffering. They don't want to hear about
what is actually going on. It's very important to be a professional
journalist, but how do you force people to respect your coverage?
Palestinian journalists lost respect and credibility when they
failed to make the PA accountable. It's impossible now to come and
ask them to play a role.
The failure of the Palestinian press to play the role of watchdog
helped spread rumors and created a gap between Palestinian
newspapers, journalists and society. I can understand that
Palestinian journalists don't feel protected. They have no union.
If they get into trouble with the Palestinian security apparatus,
nobody will defend them. Their editor asks them to follow the story
from this angle and not from that one. Therefore, the alternative
is the Arab satellite channels, which present different points of
view. Palestinian journalists need to rebuild their media
Mr Wilson: Amos, I have had personal experience of being
allowed by the Israeli army to get my camera closer to get shots of
what they're doing to Arafat's headquarters. What sort of political
pressure is there on the military to come up with media-friendly
Mr Harel: It's quite an issue, and was even more of an issue
before Defensive Shield. Some of the media spin tactics were pretty
primitive. There was a time when, at eight o'clock sharp, just for
the eight o'clock news, they would bomb Gaza after a suicide
attack. Incursions into the West Bank, before Defensive Shield,
would always start about 12 o'clock. We'd get phone calls from
officers saying, "You should know for tomorrow's front page
headline, that we are entering Nablus. Top secret." Five minutes
later, I'd get a call from someone at al-Jazeera saying, "There's
all kinds of tank movement around Nablus. Do you know what's going
on?" For a week at the beginning of Defensive Shield, we were
unable to join the soldiers in the field. There was a great
struggle behind the scenes and now the army admits it was a
mistake. I interviewed one of the top generals a month ago. He
said, "If I knew then what I know now, I would have let news teams,
even foreign teams, in on every incursion inside Jenin in the first
days of Defensive Shield."
The Israeli army spokespeople are no great professionals. Sometimes
the way they deal with the international press is a joke. The new
spokesperson is a more experienced media advisor, and she is trying
to bring about a change. But all you have to do is look at the
ridiculous number of officers who can speak English and who deal
with the foreign press and you'll see how absurd it is. This is one
of the reasons why the IDF spokesperson's credibility among foreign
journalists is so low. One more point: The Internet has changed
things a lot. Haaretz's English web site is now considered the most
important news source. The change has been amazing. People know a
lot more. I am told by Western diplomats who work here in Tel Aviv
that a lot of what they report is already known in the State
Department or in the Foreign Office in London because they all
check the Internet, and read Haaretz.
Every now and then I check how my articles are used on the Internet
by running a name check on Google. Some are used by foreign media
organizations that are objective. But 50 percent of my pieces are
used by pro-Palestinian or Palestinian organizations trying to show
how bad Israel looks in the territories, IDF misconduct, etc.,
while the other 50 percent is used by Jewish and pro-Israeli
organizations taking other parts of what I report, trying to show
how bad Palestinian terrorism is and how involved the PA is in
what's going on.
Mr Zananiri: Three years ago, I lectured at Bir Zeit
University on television journalism. I spent the first five days
talking about what objectivity means. Give me the facts. I make up
my own opinion, as a leader or as somebody who watches television.
Don't try to impose your point of view on me. If the Israelis kill
one Palestinian, say they shot one Palestinian dead. Don't say they
killed a number of Palestinians, and only a week later we find out
they only killed one. Report events as they are. Foreign occupation
is a fact. It doesn't need any exaggeration because it's totally
appalling anywhere in the world. Nobody needs to sensationalize the
occupation of another nation.
Mr Wilson: I'd like each of you to summarize the media's
influence on the second Intifada.
Mr Shaked: I think people on both sides are much better
informed about what happens in this Intifada. Israelis focus on
what happens to Israelis, but they know the suffering of the
Palestinians. I'm sorry to say that hasn't made them change their
minds. The conflict is going to continue. Therefore, the much more
important part of our job is to put into the hearts, minds and
consciences of the new generation that there is another people
Mr Harel: I am pessimistic. Part of that relates to media
coverage. When you come to editors here, there is an attitude of
cynicism about everything going on. How many people killed? Four.
Even if people from your side are killed, you don't get that
emotional. It's not new. And part of news, of course, is reporting
a new phenomenon.
Mr Abu Aker: I think many Palestinian journalists have
succeeded in demonstrating their professionalism. They have worked
on many stories in a balanced way. I also believe that the Israelis
have pushed many Palestinian reporters and journalists into a
corner and made them part of the conflict through the way they were
treated, by prohibiting them access not only to Jerusalem, Gaza or
the West Bank, but even from one city or village to another. These
are things that need to be looked at.
Mr Wilson: As an international journalist here, the bravery
on both sides of people being prepared to go out there and say
things is a constant source of inspiration. I think your
overwhelming feeling is a pessimistic one, but the spirit of
journalism is alive, at least in this room. Let's hope more people
out there try to push it forward in the years ahead.