Glenn Greenwald on Reporting in Gaza

An unusual conversation took place the other day on the Hugh Hewitt show: Hugh and his guest, Glenn Greenwald, got to talking about reporting from Gaza, and, among other things, my name was invoked as an example of a Jewish journalist who reported from Gaza and lived to tell the tale:

Hugh Hewitt: You think you could file for Salon from Gaza and go about your work for say six, eight, ten weeks? I don't. I think they'd kill you.

Glenn Greenwald: It depends. I mean, it's probably, you're probably right that especially now, Western journalists, Jewish journalists, would not be welcome in Gaza for reasons that aren't that difficult to understand. But there have been plenty of Western journalists and Jewish journalists. I mean, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic's spent lots and lots of time in Gaza safely.

HH: Written a good book about it, too.

GG: Yeah, exactly. So I think my view of the Palestinians and the Gazans is not all that dissimilar to my view of most societies that are involved in really ugly, long term, entrenched warfare, which is most of the people in this society overwhelmingly are decent people who want peace and to raise their children in a safe and prosperous environment, and there are extremists within this society who are dangerous and violent, and who are bad and need to be marginalized.

This undoubtedly marks the first time Hugh Hewitt has ever praised a book chosen by The Progressive as a favorite book of the year, but that's not the point: I want to address a couple of mistaken suppositions in the conversation. The first is Hugh's, the idea that Glenn Greenwald would get killed for reporting in Gaza. (The assumption built in to this, of course, is that bloggers like Greenwald report from the field.) I don't think he would be killed for reporting in Gaza. It's a dangerous place, yes, and reporters have been kidnapped from time to time. I was kidnapped in Gaza, though not by Hamas, and the editor of this fine magazine, when he was reporting from Gaza for the Times, was once almost kidnapped in Gaza, and only broke free of his would-be captors because of his kung fu fighting skills.

If Greenwald told the whole truth -- say, he reported the fact that Hamas places rocket launchers in schoolyards and mosques -- he might get his ass kicked out of Gaza, but Hamas wouldn't hurt him. It's a more sophisticated organization than that. So Greenwald is also wrong to assume that Hamas would take its anger out on Jewish reporters. This is not to say that Hamas isn't an anti-Semitic organization. It is. But it sees Jewish reporters, just as it sees other reporters, as capable of delivering its message to the West.

On Greenwald's larger point, I would say that I have to agree (surprise). Gaza is in the grip of a suicide cult, but most of the people I know in Gaza want their children to live, not to die.