Taghreed El-Khodary, formerly the New York Times correspondent in Gaza, spoke recently at an event organized by the Palestine Center (6/23/10). She shared some interesting observations–the first being that her revelation that she left Gaza after the controversy erupted over Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner’s son joining the Israeli Defense Forces:
I’m sorry that I left Gaza, but my bureau chief’s son joined the Israeli army and I felt like it’s not wise of me. I don’t want to risk losing my sources that I have been establishing for many, many years. It’s a very sensitive issue, as you all know; not only that, but it’s also risky, and you have many small groups who would like revenge and I can be a great person to get a hold of. It’s very sensitive, and I was really disappointed that they took this decision, but they understand why I left.
Elsewhere she indicates that Israeli restrictions on Palestinian journalistsposed other difficulties:
Imagine you are a Gazan journalist and you are just based in Gaza and you cannot see the other story that is the West Bank. And of course the Israelis don’t let someone like me, who worked for the New York Times, [to] even work. They gave me a hard time and that’s also another challenge.Being a Palestinian journalist, even if you work for Reuters or AP or the New York Times, Israel will never give you access to the West Bank or to Israel.
She also discussed the need for a certain type of “balance” in every story out of Gaza:
The issue is even if you write a feature, if you write anything; you need the Israeli narrative in the story. You need to balance and that’s why you need the space. That’s the story here. You have to be politically correct. You have to have the Israeli narrative, even if you are working in a feature. So that’s how it goes, and I think you need to understand also how the Israelis are looking at things. What’s disturbing here is watching your TV. I cannot watch CNN domestic. They treat me like a stupid person, like a stupid audience. I really stopped watching it, because it’s so different from the CNN International. I’m here and I’m really not watching your Fox [News] or your CNN. It’s scary.
Whenasked to evaluate the Times‘ reporting on Israel/Palestine,she does not exactly give a ringing endorsement:
I think the New York Times is doing a good job, if I compare it to others–if you want me to compare it to CNN or Fox. I’m sorry, but when it comes to European media, it’s completely different, I would say.