Editor’s Notes: Walking into the war

By David Horovitz September 22, 2006

A few words of appreciation for our journalists

On Day 16 of the war, our news editor came up to me and said: ”Anshel and Ariel have just walked into Lebanon.”

Indeed they had. I don’t know quite how dangerous it was. It was certainly a war zone. I’m not sure exactly how they far they walked. But reporter Anshel Pfeffer and photographer Ariel Jerozolimski crossed the border along a route they had seen the IDF take before them and walked over to the nearest UNIFIL position, which happened to be staffed by troops from Ghana. So it was that, on the morning of July 28, readers of The Jerusalem Post picked up a newspaper with the fruits of the duo’s brief Lebanon foray — a front-page headline that read: “Hizbullah? Here? That’s news to UNIFIL’s Position 6-52.”

Their story didn’t change the world at a stroke. Of course it didn’t. But it may have had some kind of incremental impact. It brought home to the Post’s domestic print and worldwide Internet readership just how ineffectual and out of touch the UNIFIL troops were with the reality unfolding literally on their doorstep. “I have never seen one of them,” said a Ghanaian soldier ofthe Hizbullah gunmen, who were facing off against the IDF right there, at adjacent Maroun a-Ras.

Maybe, as one element of the information flow, the article slightly affected thinking among one or many international officials or politicians. Just maybe. Certainly it was good journalism: first-hand reporting, a reality conveyed, an inaccessible arena illuminated.

We’re not perfect at the Post. Boy, are we not perfect. We have a passionate and growing readership in Israel, and an immense, soaring readership around the world scrutinizing our every comma. And no we don’t, get them all in, the right places. But as Rosh Hashana happens to mark the completion of my second year as editor here, I wanted to take a paragraph or seven to put in print my respect and appreciation for the staff and contributors here.

Not all of them walked into the war, but neither were Pfeffer and Jerozolimski the only two who did. When the conflict broke out and locals headed south or into the shelters, many of our writers traveled north, to frontline towns and villages, to hospitals and to funerals, to document the developing conflict and enable the rest of us to understand how it was playing out. A young staff member, asked last-minute whether he was prepared to go into battle as an “embedded” reporter with an artillery unit, immediately canceled his weekend plans and started driving north, barely pausing for his notepad.

War and individual risks aside, it’s a phenomenally hard-working, generous-spirited team of colleagues here, doing their jobs under circumstances that are always strained — too much to get done, too little time, all the time. And if many of you are thinking that much of this sounds no different from your place of work, whatever your walk of life, well, then go ahead and tell your colleagues what I’d like to tell mine: Thank you for getting us through an extraordinarily challenging year, and may the next one be healthy, fulfilling… and safe.

The same wishes, of course, go to all of you, our readers. Shana Tova, to all of Israel and to the Jewish nation.

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