Caught in the Middle

David Ignatius


still have the press credentials I gathered nearly three decades ago from the Middle East’s various combatants: one from the left-wing Druse militia in Lebanon, one from the right-wing Lebanese Christian militia known as the “Phalange,” one from the Palestine Liberation Organization, another from the Israeli government. The only common features are the photos of me in my early 30s: scruffy, glowering, determined to penetrate the veil of secrets.


The press cards remind me of a time when you could be in the middle of the Middle East conflict and imagine that you were covering all sides fairly. And when I say in the middle, I mean that almost literally. Back in the early 1980s, you could interview the PLO in West Beirut in the morning, sneak past the snipers along the “Green Line” at midday, and then interview the Israeli-backed Phalangists that afternoon in East Beirut, even as the two sides were shooting at each other.


Not long ago, I found myself wishing I had one of those old press passes, which carried the implicit message: “Don’t shoot; I’m a journalist!” I had just “moderated” a heated discussion of the Gaza war at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland…


Excerpt reproduced with permission from Foreign Policy, Copyright 2009 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive LLC. Read the full article at []  


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