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Sampling Life in Palestine

September 01, 1988

I am the "U.S. Jew" referred to in Dan Fisher's article "U.S. Jew Samples Life With Palestinians" (Part I, Aug. 8). Fisher painted an inaccurate picture of my trip to the West Bank, and distorted statements that I made to him. He implied, for instance, that I changed my story and gave conflicting information when I recounted a violent incident I witnessed during my trip: soldiers attacking a high school in Hebron. He used my story as an example of "the danger of exaggeration that even trained observers face in reporting violence." I remember my conversation with Fisher clearly: I told him that from where I stood, facing one side of the school, I saw approximately 100 soldiers, but that accounts I gathered later (from medical personnel and students who had been in the school) indicated that soldiers had been on all sides of the school, and that 300-400 may actually have been involved. I do not think I could have been more responsible in giving these details to Fisher.

Fisher claims I said I did not "see any of the youths who were reportedly treated in hospitals or clinics." What he asked me, was if I had been inside the clinic or hospitals to see the wounded. I was not. Soldiers blocked the roads.I did visit some of those who were injured the following day, in their homes.

Fisher also said that my delegation's final report was "particularly flawed in that they do not clearly differentiate between those events that the participants actually witnessed and those which they are reporting based on hearsay." Again, he is simply wrong.

I did not go to the West Bank to file stories. I went as an American citizen and as a Jew, tremendously concerned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, about the situation in the Occupied Territories, and particularly, about the brutal policies employed by the Israeli government and military against the Palestinian civilian population. I went to get a glimpse of daily life under the occupation; I went to be an "eyewitness" because complete information is not always available.

Fisher knows full-well the difficulties reporters have recently had in covering activities in the Israeli Occupied Territories--difficulties caused by censorship, by the beating of journalists by soldiers, and by the recent Israeli ploy to create fear-of-the-press by sending agents into Palestinian communities dressed as ABC camera crews. I applaud the many reporters, Fisher among them, who have tried to get the real stories; but in this case, Fisher has missed the real story altogether.

ALICE WINKLER

Washington, D.C.

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