One year after 9/11, I visited Israel as a guest of the Jerusalem Post. In the midst of the intifadah, the hard-line newspaper arranged for me to broadcast my daily radio show from Jerusalem. At the time, I was also filing one-minute commentaries for KYW-AM (1060). One of them caused some consternation at home. Here is what I said:
“Yesterday, an Israeli guide was anxious to show me the community called Gilo.
“‘Look,’ he said, ‘at the sandbags that these people have to place in their windows to shield them from sniper fire from a neighboring village called Beit Jala.’
“Sure enough, there were sandbags in windows and bullet holes in walls. Thinking of my kids, I said, ‘That’s no place to raise a family.’
“Today, I had a different guide with a different perspective. He wanted me to tour an Arab neighborhood in the West Bank.
“‘Look at where Israeli tank fire has destroyed these homes,’ he said to me. I looked. The devastation was terrible. ‘This is no place to live,’ I said to myself.
“‘Where are we?’ I asked.
“‘This is the village called Beit Jala,’ he told me, ‘and the tank fired from over there, in Gilo’ – where I had been the day before.”
I ended the commentary by saying: “And so it goes.”
My intention was only to present a form of geopolitical glass half empty/half full, not to assert any moral equivalency. But that didn’t spare me an onslaught of e-mail from Jewish listeners disappointed in what I had said, or what they thought I was implying. Some told me my “comparison” was anti-Semitic, which stunned me, given that my entire trip had a palpable, pro-Israeli tone. (MORE)