Reporters on the Job

Follow-Up Question: Correspondent Ben Lynfield says that today's reporting trip to Sderot, Israel, after a rocket attack (page 7), impressed upon him the importance of the follow-up question. "I interviewed at length Ida Levy, an immigrant from Russia whose beauty parlor overlooks one of the sites hit by a Kassam rocket," says Ben. "She stressed to me that the rocket attacks would not intimidate her into leaving the town. This was her 'last station' in life after leaving Russia, and Israel is the only place where she feels at home.

"What I thought would be my last question to her was: 'What should Israel do about the Kassams?' She replied, 'They should leave Gaza.'

"I thought she meant the Israeli settlers, but just to be sure I asked her, 'You mean Israel should leave Gaza?'

"But she had something very different in mind: 'Not Israel. The Arabs should leave Gaza. They should all go to Egypt and leave us in peace.' "

Shades of Morality: Saudi correspondent Faiza Saleh Ambah says that Abdullah al-Juaid is the most conservative Saudi she has ever met. "He's a devout Muslim who believes women should cover their faces and not mingle with men who are not related to them. But he made an exception to talk to Faiza in order to publicize his brother's case of detention in Guantanamo Bay (this page).

He told Faiza: "The Saudi press is not free. And I wanted a chance to speak freely to the US press and address US public opinion. That's why I drove 200 kilometers from Tayef to see you and am committing the sin of sitting three hours with you, with your face uncovered, without a male relative, in this restaurant where they play music, where women are wearing makeup and smoking shisha."

Faiza says she struggled with feeling offended but understood where he was coming from. "I told him both of us were there for work, and we were in a public place so I didn't consider it sinful. Initially, he was tense, but finally he made peace with me. I'd like to think that I changed his impression of women who work but don't wear a veil. "

David Clark Scott
World editor

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