While both the mainstream media and the blogosphere have been buzzing about the interrogation of three Israeli journalists following visits to countries defined by Israel as being "enemy" countries, I have remained silent. I chose to remain silent, as anyone who reads this blog is aware of my close friendship with one of them, and while she is certainly aware of my unwavering support, I wasn't sure that I'd be able to write a post that would sound supportive, yet unbiased. Now, following days of frustration and disgust over some of the pieces that have been written as well as some of the comments I've seen, I find that I just can't keep quiet any longer. I'm horrified by the (usually incorrect) assumptions that people have made, involving everything from her journalistic ethics to her motives, and shocked by the number of individuals who seem to think that Lisa Goldman and her colleagues simply woke up one day, tossed a change of underwear and a toothbrush into their laptop bags, and popped across the border to visit with "the enemy", without thinking of the possible ramifications.
While I can't personally vouch for Lisa's colleagues, I'm going to make an educated guess and assume that these are intelligent, knowledgeable individuals who were well aware of where they were going and took necessary precautions – just like Lisa. And, as opposed to being unable to vouch for her colleagues, I CAN personally vouch for Lisa. I know how much thought went into her trips, how much preparation. I know how she was feeling and what she was thinking, her excitement and her concerns, her expectations. Going to Lebanon was not something she took lightly – if anything, I'd say it was quite the opposite.
There are those who complain about her selfishness, about endangering national security by her actions, and so on, just so that she could do a non-newsworthy "fluff" piece. What these individuals are overlooking is that it was not Lisa's intention to file some hard-hitting scoop. Anyone who reads either her blog or any of the other articles that she's either written or been interviewed for knows that Lisa is drawn to human interest stories, and this is precisely what she reported on for both Channel 10 and Time Out Tel Aviv. Whenever people ask me about living in Israel, talking about how dangerous it is or how scary it must be, I've always responded by saying that daily life here is different from what they show on the news, because you don't see reporters filing stories about regular life, and if nothing is happening, there's not going to be a story about it. Until now. Until Lisa went to Lebanon, and returned to share her impressions, to provide Israelis with a picture of "normal" life in Beirut. Not every story needs to be earth shattering, and frankly, I found these scenes from Beirut – a city just a few hours to the north, one that I will probably never have a chance to visit – to be invaluable.
I am both saddened and distressed as I watch this entire episode unfold. As I've been writing this post, I've learned that Daniel Sharon will soon be indicted for his recent trip to Lebanon, and who knows how many other journalists (and politicians) may soon be caught up in the same web as Lisa and her colleagues. Why is there a witch hunt, and why is it happening now, when these kinds of trips have been made for years? As an Israeli, I am worried about our country's current state of affairs, our misplaced priorities. As a person, I am worried about my friend. I want this to go away. Lisa has said that had she realized that what she was doing was against the law, she never would have done it. I believe her. I'm sure there are those of you who will belittle my stance because I'm biased. And you're right. I am biased. Lisa and I wouldn't be such close friends if I didn't admire her so much as an individual – her intelligence, her warmth, her sense of humor. I'm impressed by her innate ability to connect with people, and how she will always go out of her way to do so. One of her primary reasons for visiting Lebanon had to do with her constant desire to build bridges – to learn about her neighbors and to, in turn, share her newfound knowledge with her countrymen. Yes, a law was unknowingly broken, but the intent was neither criminal nor malicious, and if anything, it was the opposite. The police have made their point by publicizing the interrogation, and unless they are planning to go after every other person who's ever made such a trip, I cannot help but question their motives in making an example of these three individuals, and I cannot help but wonder about the direction in which our society is going.
See Lisa's post on the subject here.