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March 24, 2003

Selective Outrage

I get annoyed when journalists act as if they're some sort of special breed, deserving of deferential treatment. Yes, I know, many of them put themselves in danger, and several of them paid the ultimate price. But there's this story from the Washington Post complaining that several Arab countries haven't allowed embedded journalists in to attach to American army units.
... in recent days reporters from CNN, U.S. News & World Report, NBC and The Washington Post have been unable to gain direct access to U.S. forces stationed in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Turkey has prevented some journalists from crossing its border into northern Iraq, according to media sources. Air bases in Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates have also been deemed off-limits to the media by those countries.
this has led to an outraged response:
"I think it proves that in the Coalition of the Willing, willingness is a very subjective thing," said Phil Bennett, The Post's assistant managing editor for foreign news. Saudi Arabia's denial, he said, was particularly "schizophrenic" because the Saudi government has issued numerous visas to journalists in recent months, but still won't allow access to military installations. "It's a false openness," he said.
The Saudis, however, have a ready response:
A spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, Nail Al-Jubeir, characterized his government's policy as "a logistical issue. We got an enormous amount of requests from journalists. It got to the point where the government said, 'Let's put a hold on this and study it.' "
I may not have paid much mind to that article, except then I saw Caroline Glick's account of her experiences trying to get to an embedded unit in Kuwait:
I never felt any strong emotion towards Kuwait or towards the Kuwaiti people until I arrived in the country on Sunday, March 9, only to be greeted by blistering, virulent hatred accompanied by a reign of quiet, relentless discrimination.

From the moment I arrived, the Kuwaiti government sought to silence me as a writer, a journalist and an Israeli even as I was traveling as a US citizen on a valid visa.

A few hours before I was set to depart for Kuwait on a flight from Washington, DC, I began to realize that I would be in for a rough ride. I read on the Internet that the Kuwaitis issued a statement telling the international press corps in Kuwait that anyone transmitting reports to the Israeli media would face criminal prosecution.
Pretty strong stuff. If the Post didn't know about this Kuwaiti selectivity why not? Did any American newspaper (other than the Chicago Sun Times) note Glick's difficulties? It's hard to feel much sympathy for the journalists who are excluded because Arab countries don't want to advertise their participation in the war, if they, in turn, don't manage to scare up a little bit of outrage about over this outright discrimination.

There's an irony here. After the Gulf War, Time magazine quoted a Kuwaiti official who said that now he understood why Israel chased war criminals, and that the Kuwaitis felt about Saddam the way he imagined the Jewish state would have felt about Hitler. (I don't remember the exact words, but you get the picture.) The reporter, I think, even noted the apparent softening of the Kuwaiti's attitude toward Israel. Apparently it was temporary. As was the appreciation for freedom the Kuwaitis gained from America's rescue of their country from the tyrant Saddam.

While your at it, read how Glick celebrated Purim. I bet the Saudis will have conniptions about some of this too!

Cross Posted on IsraPundit and David's Israel Blog.