Reporters on the Job

Signs of Change: Correspondent Fred Weir lived for five years in the USSR, so he remembers cold war-era summits. "I covered several between then-President Mikhail Gorbachev and then-President Ronald Reagan, and between Mr. Gorbachev and George H.W. Bush. The run-up to most of those was usually punctuated by elevated rhetoric, mostly about human rights and military provocations, that sounded like what we hear today."

Fred says that as he listened to warnings that a new cold war may be looming (see story), he wondered if it could be true. "Then I strolled around the Moscow suburb where I've lived for the past seven years. I'm a citizen of a NATO country, living with his Russian family in a private house, surrounded by affluent Russian businesspeople and professionals, most of whom commute to jobs that didn't exist here two decades ago. What this place calls routine life today was entirely impossible under communism."

Fred says it was a very localized reality check. "I think, nah, a new cold war isn't conceivable. Is it?"

Six-Day War: Staff writer Ilene R. Prusher says that she could have gone to the Palestinian community of Sinjil and the Israeli community of Shilo, both in the West Bank, in one day, but chose to go on separate days (see story). "It's good to separate the experiences or it becomes overwhelming – and also, you don't want to say, 'Hey, I was just in one or the other,' as people will see you as having just come from the enemy."

Ilene says there's a lot of black-and-white thinking in each locale. "When you're there, you can understand their feelings," Ilene says. "But when you see it from a bird's eye view, it feels sad – these are beautiful places, and people are just not as different as they think they are. But there's been a change since the Oslo [peace accord] years. There's less empathy."

– Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World editor

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