Monday, September 14, 2009

Journalists hassle last Jews of Baghdad

Reporters nowadays will stop at nothing for a story - even if people get killed in the process. By way of example, the blog Iraqpundit uncovers the harassment by a journalist of an elderly Jewish lady in Baghdad, one of eight Jews remaining. The lady in question is most probably this woman. (With thanks: Eliyahu)

"If anyone ever needed further proof that most reporters care little or nothing about the people they cover, NYT's Stephen Farrell just gave them more evidence than anyone could ask for. The reporter ignored advice and pursued a story into a dangerous area in Afghanistan. The reporter's lust for the story eventually led to the death of his interpreter, another civilian, and a British paratrooper. The Afghan and British people are furious. Why would he do such a thing? Perhaps because we live in a world that rewards selfish behavior.

"There was a time when reporters were the fly on the wall, quietly observing and reporting the story. Now we mistake risky behavior for courage and professionalism. I can see it here in Baghdad. Anything goes to get the story.

"An elderly Iraqi woman was recently harassed by a reporter. The woman said the pest, who knocked on the window from 9 until 1 O'Clock, works for the Guardian newspaper. The goal of the determined reporter presumably was to interview one of eight remaining Jews in Baghdad. Most people in the neighbourhood think the woman is Christian, and she wants to keep it that way. The reporter asked for the keys to the synagogue. The tiny woman tearfully begged the journalist to go away. The reporter threatened to bring the office of minority affairs to open the synagogue. The woman asked to be left alone. The small community says most people think the synagogue is a storage facility, and they want to keep it that way. They don't want to call attention to themselves. They lead very quiet lives.

"Of course the woman, who is in her 70s, could be exaggerating bits of the story. I was not at her house. Maybe the reporter tapped on her window for just an hour, but that would still qualify as harassment. Maybe the reporter asked nicely to see the synagogue, but the elderly woman was definitely frightened by the ordeal. Why didn't the journalist respect the wishes of the woman? Because she's irrelevant. And surely the paper's editor would say it was all fair in pursuit of a story."

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