August 2005

Until last weekend, Israel’s one million Palestinian citizens had stayed well out of the debate about the country’s imminent disengagement from Gaza. “It’s not our story,” they would say when pressed. “This is an entirely Jewish conversation.” While for months Jewish car drivers have been flying blue and orange ribbons – showing respectively support for and opposition to the disengagement – car aerials in Israel’s Arab towns and villages remained bare. That is no longer the case. At the weekend, Arab drivers in the Galilee could be seen flying black ribbons to commemorate the deaths of four Arabs shot dead on a bus last Thursday afternoon by a Jewish extremist with his Israeli Army-issued rifle. Now Israel’s Palestinian citizens are part of the conversation, whether they like it or not.

The letter one reporter in Israel wishes he could send news editors who ask him to cover the disengagement:

Dear Editor,

Many thanks for your email asking me to cover the Gaza disengagement for your publication. I was surprised to hear that you needed someone “already on the ground in Israel”, as you put it, and will not be among the publications sending a correspondent to cover the disengagement from Gaza. I know that some 3,000 foreign journalists are expected to descend on Israel in the coming days.