THUMBS UP to USA Today Jerusalem correspondent Matthew Kalman for his trenchant coverage of otherwise unreported stories concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict. On Dec. 8, 2000, for example, in an article entitled “Let our kids alone, Arafat told,” he reported that a group of Palestinian women, the Tulkarm Women’s Union, sent a letter to Yasser Arafat demanding that the Palestinian Authority stop using children in the clashes against Israel.
His interview with a Palestinian women named Aisheh disclosed that “When school finishes, Palestinian Authority security cars go around collecting children from the streets and sending them to the killing fields.”
Kalman noted that Aisheh would not give her last name for fear of being condemned as a traitor.
While many news reports have focused on youthful Palestinian casualties in clashes with Israelis, few have made clear the calculated PA efforts to place children in the line of fire.
In another example of original coverage, Kalman’s Feb. 3, 2000 story titled “Some East Jerusalem Arabs are choosing Israel over Arafat” revealed that in response to press reports of possible transfer of Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem into Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s hands, Arabs applied for Israeli citizenship in unprecedented numbers.
Although “Palestinians have long demanded an Israeli withdrawal from East Jerusalem,” Kalman writes, “. . . many of the city’s 180,000 Palestinians say they would prefer to live under Israel’s democracy than under Arafat’s rule. They accuse his Palestinian Authority, a quasi-governmental entity, of being arbitrary and often corrupt.”
While Kalman is certainly not the first to report on Palestinian Authority corruption and abuses, he is among the very few to emphasize that some Palestinians actually favor life under Israeli rule as opposed to PA governance.