<strong>Denver Post Editor Greg Moore visited Israel, Feb. 7-17, on an ADL mission. It was his first visit to Israel. Upon his return he sat for an interview.
It was hard to put his thoughts into coherent focus because he was bubbling over with excitement.
“Our guide was just really really terrific. He told us so many stories, like about the battles and the ‘73 war and all this stuff. I felt like I learned a lot about the history.
“I was moved when I went to Golan Heights and heard stories about the battles up there in the Yom Kippur War, about the tanks and the truckers.
“I was moved by the biography of Jonathan Netanyahu, who played a role in the Yom Kippur war and was the hero at Entebbe.
“I was fascinated by stories of military strategies.
“I think it’s great that Israelis revere their heroes. It’s real time. These battles are fairly fresh.
“I’m anxious to learn as much as I can about that part of the world.”
And learn he did.
Q. What were your impressions of Israel?
The most striking thing is the people themselves. Israeli people in particular are just very strong and resolute folk. It really impressed me.
It didn’t matter whether I was talking to older or younger people. They really have confidence. An iron constitution. They’re not going to be pushed around, not going to be cowed.
Everyone serves in the military, so they all have a stake in the survival of the nation in a way that people here don’t. To serve in the military makes them tough, makes them understand what’s at stake.
I was impressed by the Israeli Arabs I met — one foot in two different worlds. The Israeli Jewish world and the Palestinian world — I’m sure it’s difficult to negotiate. But I didn’t detect any simmering anger. They wouldn’t leave Israel. It’s their home, too. I found that amazing.
The religious spots mean something to Jews, Arabs, Christians. I never really fully understood that, and it makes everything so complicated.
We went to Masada, one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. What they did to build this community on the top of the mountain, and got water to run up hill. Amazing. It was an incredible engineering feat.
We went to Nazareth and got a chance to go through the huge church with all the frescoes from all over the world.
Q. What did the trip teach you politically?
It taught me that if you really want to have any influence you have to be more engaged than we are. You really have to be a force to bring those two sides together. Israel is working very hard with Abbas to keep things together — but things happening in Gaza make it hard to keep this on track.
I realized just how complicated things are. There was the deal years ago [at Camp David, 2000] that seemed to give Palestinians everything they wanted, but it went nowhere.
We’ve got to get more involved. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Democrat or Republican — both political parties realize the importance of Israel as an ally. You’ve got to do something about the Palestinian issue.
Q. Will this trip affect the Denver Post’s coverage of Israel?
I think so. Yes. Now I read almost every story that comes out of Israel and have a much deeper understanding of it. Now I have a physical place in my head and have faces to go with it.
I’m going to be even more cognizant of the images we use, and more skeptical of things that come out of there in print and in photos. Now I understand how it works.
Q. Did you feel propaganzied on the trip?
A little bit.
We couldn’t go into the West Bank or go into Gaza, so we really couldn’t talk to Palestinians. We got a heavy dose of the Israeli government’s point of view. We spent a lot of time with the police, who took us to sites of bombings in Netanya — the ballroom where the [Passover, 2002] bombing occurred.
We spent a lot of time talking about suicide bombers and how they work. I realize I was only getting one part of the story, which makes me reluctant to make a whole lot of prouncements.
So I am doing a lot of reading.
Q. Is there a human moment that stands out in your mind?
When we went to the Negev we met with Bedouin women who go to Ben Gurion University, which has educated about 500 of them.
They talked about centuries-old traditions and male-dominated culture and how the educated women are now transforming the Bedouin community with more exposure to the world.
They were just really impressive. This could have been any college in the US. They were well spoken, articulate, thoughtful. I wanted to bring them back to the US!
That was the emotional moment for all of us. Someone said: Just hold on, change will come. One of the Bedouin women said: I’m impatient, I want a cell phone, I want to be part of the world.
Education and exposure were activating their minds. It was a really really good moment.
Q. Any regrets?
We were going to take a helicopter ride over the Wall and land two kilometers away from the Gaza Strip. This was the one day it rained. We couldn’t go up.
But we met a lot of people from the Jerusalem Post, the New York Times, and the guy who traveled the country and went to mosques — Yossi Klein Halevi.
He was very impressive, one of the guys who told us early on that the Israeli military was going to go into Gaza.
It was a really, really great trip. I really enjoyed Jerusalem and the Negev.
We were tired.
This was work!