Read through archived FRONTLINE/World
conversations around this story.
Claire O'Connor - Chicago, Illinois
When I heard the news that Mazen Dana had been killed in
Iraq I was devastated. I was very moved by the first broadcast
of this documentary. It gave me hope that the world hadn't
gone completely insane. The bravery of Dana and Naylor,
to report such a censored story, inspired me. Mazen's murder
seems to enforce Naylor's assertion that information is
indeed a target in the new way of war. If the intent was
to silence Mazen, I think the powers that be just made a
Anonymous - Houston, Texas
I was saddened to learn of the death of Mazan Dana today,
the Reuters' photojournalist filming in Iraq and shot dead
by American soldiers. I recognized his face immediately
on the nightly news (8/17/03) from your Frontline World
story just this past Thursday night. Journalism is a dangerous
calling in a war zone, but without these brave people, we'd
never know the 'story.' A photograph is indeed worth ten
thousand words. We owe them a debt of gratitude beyond measure.
Condolences to his family.
Cheryl Bukoff - Detroit, Michigan
The documentary, aired again tonight, highlighted in a very disturbing way the necessity of freedom of the press and the need to maintain journalist in such difficult and dangerous areas. The film was made before the two most recent deaths of journalist seemingly caused by the Israeli Army. We need to know what is happening. I appreciate your keeping us informed.
Anonymous - New Jersey
One of the most revealing television productions I have
seen in a long time. It unveils the intentions of the state
of Israel to keep impartial observers out of the scenes
of the conflict, which prevents the world from having an
unbiased view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With
this attitude, even if the Israeli Army's actions are in
fact justifiable, they are ruling out any possibility for
us to believe that it is the case.
Ms. Gross [see Sylvia Gross, March 2003 conversation, below],
you forget the underlying fact that it is against all international
conventions, laws and democracy rules to shoot at journalist.
You can accuse Ms Naylor, PBS or whoever you want of trying
to show this fact, that the reality is that the Israeli
military is shooting at journalists. THERE IS NO WAY TO
JUSTIFY THAT. You seem to be against the Palestinians, no
matter who they are or what they do. Turn the mirror around
and look at yourself.
Jack Garbuz - Queens, New York
I support the unofficial policy and sub-rosa policy of the
IDF to target so-called journalists, because journalists
are supposed to REPORT news, and not create it. When the
PLO and journalists collude to create incidents for the
edification of a new-hungry TV audience which thereby puts
the lives of Israeli soldiers in danger, then their lives
should be put in danger as well. A news organization and
its journalists should REPORT the news, and not help to
manufacture it, especially when they are willing to jeopardize
the lives of OTHERS to do so. In such cases they should
be prepared to participate in the hazards they create (not
Maria Schneider - Haverford, Pennsylvania
I thank you for having the courage to report this story
on American TV. I cheer the courage of all those journalists
that put their lives on the line to give us the real facts
on the ground -- and not the story that the established
powers want us to hear. Seeing the truth will perhaps change
the view of many.
Sathi Gupta - New York, New York
Perhaps there would be an overall more varied response,
if the individuals who have responded were from different
racial and religious backgrounds. This is just a thought.
Anonymous - New York, New York
My thanks for your courage and dedication to broadcasting
how things really are in this conflict. This program was
so different from the usual Charlie Rose type presentation.
Simply put, sometimes the truth hurts. Perhaps, that is
why some of the viewers have responded negatively.
Anonymous - Livingston, New Jersey
I am a student but I think that anyone who chooses to work in a war zone (and I think that the West Bank and Gaza during this Intifada is in fact a war zone) has to accept the physical risks of violence. Even our servicemen understand the potential loss of life that has occurred and continues to occur from "friendly fire." I would expect that the risks of getting caught in a cross fire are self evident especially when covering a rioting crowd or a stone throwing incident.
I am concerned that Ms. Naylor and PBS have not chosen
to provide a broader and more current perspective on the
problem. There is no reference to the 4/30/03 suicide bombing
at Mike's Place in Tel Aviv where an Italian journalist
was an unwitting accomplice to the terrorists. That a journalist's
credentials facilitated the passage of the terrorists through
Israeli checkpoints and resulted in the civilian carnage
can only serve to strengthen the argument to limit the freedom
of the press. What also is lacking is a presentation regarding
the intimidation and abuse of journalists by the Palestinian
Authority and the organizations that support terror including
Hamas and Fatah (i.e. the case of Radio TV Luxembourg producer
Jean Pierre Martin and his production crew or RAI correspondent
Riccardo Cristiano). When dealing with such a sensitive
situation in a violent environment I do not think you should
be in any way perceived as lacking balance. The spotlight
needs to shine on all.
Art Altman - San Carlos, California
After decades of financially supporting public television and radio, I quit. We need solid, honest, fair, unbiased public television and radio. Instead we get subtle and not-so-subtle anti-Semitism.
The Israeli army is doing an extremely hard job. They have to defend against killers who hide behind civilians and even, as we have seen recently, use reporter vehicles as cover to transport them to murder opportunities (Mike's Place).
A Frontline report on how difficult is the job of the Israeli soldier, facing the cult of hate of the Militant Islam and brainwashed suicide bombers -- THAT would be a useful report. How about a report on the constraints placed on western reporters in Palestinian areas? The treatment of Italian reporter who provided film of Palestinians with blood on their hands -- literally -- celebrating their murder of an Israeli. (That Italian reporter was forced to apologize. Don't report this on Frontline of course..).
PBS has become a vehicle of distortion and hate.
Adam Varsano - New York, New York
Not only do Western new agencies employ Palestinian cameramen
but most of their crew's are made up of Palestinians as
well. In addition saying ABC, Reuters and Associated Press
would not use them if their personal view distorted their
work is like saying that these three News organization are
unbiased themselves. All three have proven that they clearly
are not unbiased. Instead of offering objective and balanced
reporting they, as Frontline has, have taken the Palestinian
side on this issue.
The following conversation took
place in response to the first broadcast and launch of "In
the Line of Fire" in March 2003.
Michelle Stowell - Sacramento,
Thanks so much for running this story. Too often the human
rights abuses that Israel commits, not only to Palestinians,
but to journalists of all nationalities, are ignored. Programs
like this are necessary if we Americans are going to be
well informed! Thanks for bringing some balance to US journalism!
St. Louis, Missouri
I strongly disapprove of the hard-line of the Israeli Government
and the brutality they inflict on other human beings in
the name of justice.
I think it most important to remember that this story is
not about Palestinians, nor is it about Israelis. This story
is about journalists - the people that we rely on to inform
our conscience. The fact that ANY branch of ANY state knowingly
and willingly endangers the lives of journalists is intolerable.
Sylvia Gross - Oakland, California
A question not even raised by Patricia Naylor but which
seems so basic and inescapable as to be unavoidable is why
international western news services such as Reuters use
Palestinian cameramen as their eyes and ears when the Palestinians
are the least likely people on earth to furnish anything
remotely resembling an objective point of view, being themselves
so deeply embroiled in the conflict. Perhaps Israeli resentment
at international news coverage of their problems and their
less than friendly attitude to the foreign press arises
from the fact that that coverage is so uniformly biased
against them, an not unjustifiable response and not surprising
given the role of Palestinians as reporters for that press.
Remember the hysterical accusations of genocide and massacre
in Jenin reflexively leveled against Israel by the press,
accusations which proved groundless upon subsequent careful
If journalists want to be protected why don't they make
arrangements with the IDF; why don't they "embed" themselves
in the Israeli Army the way the press is doing in the current
war in Iraq? If, on the other hand, journalists take it
upon themselves to independently interpose themselves in
the battle between Arab and Israeli, isn't it reasonable
to expect that they should accept the risks inherent in
such a position? In other words, isn't your program nothing
but self-serving, irresponsible whining, first, because
you side with the Palestinians but complain when you are
dealt with in a less than hospitable way by the Israeli's;
and second, because you intentionally put yourself in high
risk situations and then complain when you get hurt?
The foreign press takes full advantage of Israel's robust
thriving democracy with nary a "thank you." It moves in
like a freeloading in-law and shows its gratitude to its
host by allowing itself to be used as the mouthpiece for
the Palestinian propaganda machine. As far as I'm concerned,
you have been up till now more than tolerated by Israel,
you have been pampered to the point of being spoiled. Your
sense of entitlement is downright petulant and offensive.
If you don't like the way Israel treats you, why don't you
move your news headquarters to Gaza, or Syria, Lebanon,
Egypt, or Jordan? You bite the hand that feeds you yet complain
when you get slapped...
We appreciate the press freedoms that do exist in Israel.
But we are concerned whenever journalists are threatened
or targeted. In a previous episode of FRONTLINE/World,
we reported the dangers that foreign reporters face in
Iraq under Saddam Hussein. We will continue to report
these abuses wherever they occur.
You raise a legitimate question
about why western news agencies like Reuters employ Palestinian
cameramen. We asked our reporter Patricia Naylor the same
thing. You can read her reply on this Web site (go to
Palestinian cameramen may well have their biases, but
if their personal views distorted their work - if they
weren't reporting the news accurately - agencies like
Reuters, ABC and the Associated Press would no longer
Allan Marcus - El Cerrito, California
Concerning your piece on journalists under fire from the
You played over and over a segment
showing a Palestinian journalist lying on the ground being
hit twice by IDF rubber bullets. I know this was meant to
serve as your Rodney-King video, but I wasn't impressed.
Neither of the two bullets which hit his torso even penetrated
the cloth of his jacket. The flesh wound he suffered to
his temple was only superficial; it apparently healed without
permanent disability or even a scar; the rubber bullet certainly
did not fracture or penetrate his skull, or cause a concussion
to the brain. Also, he did not carry a camera and thus could
not be distinguished from a combatant. Yet you played this
video over and over as if it were your Rodney-King prize,
showing once more just how journalists go for shock value
and sensationalism over substance. All the popular polls
of the various professions I have ever seen uniformly rank
journalists at the bottom in terms of integrity and in terms
of the respect with which they are regarded by the general
public. Ever wonder why?
All but one of incidents you depicted
of the IDF supposedly abusing journalists involved Palestinians
working as journalists. Palestinians are parties to this
conflict. They are not disinterested bystanders, outsiders,
or professionals. With or without a camera, they are rightly
perceived as a threat by Israeli soldiers. How is a soldier
to know a Palestinian claiming to be a journalist, even
carrying what looks like a camera, isn't in fact a terrorist?
Palestinian terrorists have even been known to dress up
as Israeli soldiers. Everyone on the wrong side of a battlefield
is suspect, is liable to be shot, even the Israeli journalist
you showed. This is a condition of war. War is messy and
wild, chaos unleashed. That you think that somehow you are
different, separate, that you are somehow protected by an
aura of sanctity, is the height of presumption and arrogance.
Israeli soldiers in the line of
fire have enough to do without worrying about the safety
of journalists. Their lives are in danger. They have been
put in harm's way not by choice but by necessity. You journalists,
on the other hand, are there strictly from choice, electively.
You play no practical role in the conflicts you cover. You
neither defend nor help anyone. People die around you and
you film them dying. You merely serve your own self-defined
purposes, living off the adrenaline rush of battle as if
it were some kind of high, chasing after one good scoop
after another to beat the competition. As far as I'm concerned,
because you willfully put yourself in harm's way for no
one's benefit but your own, you should be prepared to accept
the risks involved. Ultimately, the soldier needs to consider
your safety and welfare last, if at all. You are superfluous...
We aired the video of the shooting of Nael Shyouki because
it appears to be a case of a journalist shot without cause.
The shooting prompted protests from Israeli and Palestinian
journalists. The footage, incidentally, was broadcast
on Israeli television.
We decided to air "In the Line
of Fire" because the Nael Shyouki shooting was not an
isolated incident. Patricia Naylor's report showed a variety
of cases, including an Israeli photographer shot by an
Israeli soldier, a French television correspondent who
was shot while he was doing a report, and a BBC crew and
an NBC crew who were shot at by Israeli forces. Many other
cases have been documented by groups like the Committee
to Protect Journalists. On this Web site (go to http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/israel.palestine/levy.html),
we have an interview with a prominent Israeli journalist,
Gideon Levy, who says Israeli soldiers opened fire on
him last summer.
Ocky Milkman - Plainfield, New Jersey
Dear Ms. Patricia Naylor,
So, let me get this straight, Ms. Naylor, please correct
me if I'm wrong, but I'm supposed to get all concerned about
rubber bullets bouncing off Palestinian cameramen while
Palestinian gunmen are breaking into Israeli homes to kill
whomever they find, including five year-old girls hiding
under their beds and couples asleep in theirs, while Palestinian
terrorists are blowing Israeli women and children to bits?
I'm supposed to get upset about a Palestinian cameraman
beaten unconscious after he viciously kicked a small young
Israeli girl who was trying to stop him from filming? I'm
supposed to get all concerned about journalists being treated
as less than royalty when people, both Palestinians and
Israelis, are dying or getting seriously wounded daily?
I'm supposed to hate Israeli soldiers who instead of focusing
their attentions on ensuring the safety of journalists are
focusing them on not getting killed and not killing innocent
civilians? I'm supposed to weep tears for journalists who
voluntarily put themselves "in the line of fire" while those
with no choice in the matter are trapped in the violence?
Could it be this is just one more liberal's distortion of
facts to make Israel look bad, one more self-righteous outsiders'
attempt to drag Jews through the mud? And what the hell
are Palestinians doing reporting the news in the first place?
Since when are they objective observers? Or doesn't it matter,
since the press is already on their side?
Jan Bauman - Mill Valley, California
This is one of the rare instances when a television documentary
has shown the truth about the brutality of the Israeli army.
It is more than obvious that Israel would like the cameras
to go away so that the world will not see the way they abuse
the Palestinians. Israel likes to present itself as a wonderful
democracy but being an occupier cannot be compatible with
As a Jew I find Gideon Levy, whose
compassionate articles in Haaretz have documented the terrible
oppression of the Palestinians under occupation, to reflect
the true meaning of the Judaism which I embrace. As for
the arrogant Mr. Seaman, I think that everything he said
is just bovine feces.
Brendan Gallagher - Novato, California
Without great stories like these, I would truly be among
the uneducated in this country. I am a soldier in the US
Army Reserve, and I feel it's my duty to maintain a certain
level of knowledge. These journalists, who risk their lives,
are also soldiers in the war to expose the truth that the
Israelis don't want the rest of the world to see. I salute
St. Louis, Missouri
I strongly disapprove of attacks on journalists, but the
purpose of this program was to put the Israelis in the worst
possible light. It showed, inadvertently, why so many Israelis
are so deeply angry at the international news media.
David - Van Nuys, California
The times I watch news coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict
are the times I get overwhelmed with the abundant anti-Semitic
propaganda that the media constantly spews. In my opinion,
"abusing" a journalist is like defending oneself against
an Arab - it is for Israel's national security, something
that Israel has every right to do. I, personally wish more
journalists would be harassed - preferably killed. It would
be good for Israel.
A.S. - New York, New York
Once again the obsessively liberal media shows its ugly
face, today on PBS. How about mentioning that the 'intimidated'
journalists are hiding out with murderers of women and children
or the mass murderers who organize such mass killing. How
about mentioning that the journalists dare not prepare such
a program about Palestinian offenses, for fear of being
murdered by their Palestinian hosts.
Ken Green - New York, New York
Israeli dislike of foreign media is not surprising given
the well known photos indicating Palestinians rioting for
the sake of the photographers (with photographers kneeling
with cameras right behind the rioters) and the "romantic"
photos of youths with sling shots (note that there are say
100 of them there at the same time or the bloody faces of
the handful of young soldiers their attacking or the photo
at the start of the intifada by the NY Times of an Israeli
soldier with a raised baton and a bloodied youth with the
caption 'Israeli soldier beating Palestinian' when it was
later revealed it was an Israeli soldier holding back Palestinians
from that bloodied Jewish yeshiva student they beat). And
it needs to be remembered when soldiers are being attacked
and photographers mix with the rioters it's hard to avoid
them when responding. Something the journalists should have
Abe Klein - Palo Alto, California
You have selected a few unfortunate incidents and have wrongly
presented them as the norm, which they are not. This is
a "war zone" and in a war zone calamitous events occur.
There is more press freedom in Israel then perhaps anywhere
else under similar circumstances. Can you imagine how an
Israeli reporter would fare in a Hamas or EL Fatah war environment?
Mammoth Lakes, California
This was an excellent & important documentary related to
the situation in the occupied territories that is rarely
told in the US. I know of no journalist covering the situation
in Iraq that have been shot intentionally for filming the
events unfolding there. I'm sure you will face criticism
for being anti-Semitic for airing this program as are most
who question the policies of Israel. This is most unfortunate
and will harm Israel security in the long term.