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Did a Lebanese reporter go to jail for talking to me?

19 1 4
26.10.2020

The setting was the 1991 Middle East peace conference in Madrid.

It was before the Oslo process between Israel and the PLO – the Palestine Liberation Organization headed by Yasser Arafat – would be launched in 1993.

Israel’s prime minister was Yitzhak Shamir. The U.S. president was George H.W. Bush. Both were present at the Madrid conference.

Much of what came out of the conference was ceremonial. The headlines which emerged were often who had shaken hands with whom.

Israel was at the conference surrounded by adversaries. There were delegations representing Syria and Lebanon. Shamir objected to recognizing the Palestinians as their own identity and instead there was a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation.

Only Egypt already had a peace treaty with Israel among the Jewish state’s neighbors.

Among those Israelis shaking hands with participants from enemy countries were reporters and I was determined to be one of them. Making my ambitions perhaps more complicated was that I stood out like a sore thumb because I wore a kippah.

Still, I had become friendly with a Palestinian journalist, Maher Shalabi, through my work with Visnews, which would later become known as Reuters TV, at its Jerusalem bureau.

When I walked into the Jordanian-Palestinian media booth at the Madrid conference and peered in cautiously, I was suddenly greeted by Shalabi, who patted me firmly on the........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)


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