ODD HOBBY: While reporting today's story on Palestinian living conditions in the West Bank (this page), Ben Lynfield renewed an acquaintance with a Palestinian family in the Beit Jubrin refugee camp. Ben talked by phone with two brothers who once had a curious pastime before the current intifada: they followed Israeli politics like most people follow soccer or football. Because the brothers lacked the necessary permits to travel to Israel, and the disconnect between their everyday lives and Israeli politics was so great, they took a spectator's pleasure in Israel's democratic process. One time, they even invited Ben over to watch a Labor Party convention.
The last time he visited the brothers, almost four months ago, the situation was less light-hearted; the inside walls of their father's house were pockmarked with bullet holes, and the top floor was incinerated. "Even though they couldn't come to Israel," Ben says, "Israel at least its army came to them."
A SECURITY DETAIL: The Monitor's Scott Peterson had just left northern Iraq when he heard about the assassination attempt last week on Barham Salih, a pro-Western Kurdish leader (page 1). Just days before, Scott rode with Mr. Salih to an outdoor political rally. "There were bodyguards in the cars in front and behind. As we drew close to the event and slowed down, several of the guards trotted alongside the car, with one hand on it similar to what the US Secret Service does," he says. "There have been multiple assassination attempts on Kurdish leaders by Iraqi agents during the past two decades from poisoned food, to bombs disguised as tape recorders," he says.
Last week as Scott rode with Mr. Salih, he turned to him with a smile, and said: "It was kind of you to arrange all this security just for me." Barham laughed. "But the events of this past week show that it's a necessity," says Scott.
David Clark Scott