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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 28, 2011 / 24 Adar I, 5771

At long last, a reporter gets an unfiltered look at Libya

By Hannah Allam





Startling, moving scenes after half-decade wait


JewishWorldReview.com |

cAIRO — (MCT) For the past five years, I've had a standing visa application with the Libyan government of Moammar Gadhafi.

Unlike in other dictatorships, where the rejection of journalists is immediate and nonnegotiable, my Libya application simply languished until the message was clear: Don't even bother working official channels to gain entrance to a nation that's been shut off to most foreigners for four decades.

Once in a while, the government would approve press junkets that involved strictly controlled visits to oil facilities and ancient ruins, but almost no chance for unfettered conversations with ordinary Libyans.

Or, we'd glimpse Gadhafi at the annual Arab summits, such as the 2008 gathering in Syria, where the flamboyant colonel warned other leaders, "Your turn is next," a reference to the U.S.-led ouster of Saddam Hussein. Only exiled dissidents and anonymous bloggers provided any real window into the lives of Libya's 6 million citizens.

So it was with a perhaps juvenile glee ("Ha! So much for visas!") that I walked across the Egyptian-Libyan border and into the opposition-controlled eastern territory last week without anyone on the Libyan side even glancing at my passport.

The border guards who'd defected from Gadhafi's regime embraced the group of American and Japanese reporters I entered with, urging us to take pictures of graffiti that read, "Welcome to free Libya!" Soon, dozens of other journalists would make the same trek, exhilarated by this first opportunity for independent reporting in the closed-off North African country.


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I wasn't prepared for the sheer beauty and variety of the vistas: the impossibly blue Mediterranean, glittery deserts, verdant mountains and bush-dotted plains. Eastern Libya's urban centers, in contrast, were dingy and neglected. We soon learned that one of the main frustrations was the lack of infrastructure development in a country awash with petrodollars. In Bayda — the third-largest city — there's just one hospital.

When Gadhafi's government took note of the influx of foreign reporters, Libyan officials warned that any journalist who'd sneaked into the country would be prosecuted as an al-Qaida collaborator.

Why would we be considered operatives for a terrorist group? Because Gadhafi paints the hundreds of thousands of protesters as drug-addled followers of Osama bin Laden — a tactic to scare the West into backing his bloody operations against what began last week as peaceful anti-government demonstrations.

In my four days of reporting among hundreds of Libyans, I didn't meet a single person who expressed anything but disdain for extremism. Unlike conflict zones where Western reporters are viewed with hostility, Libyans welcomed us as long-lost friends and joked that, under Gadhafi, the only time they'd opened their mouths was at the dentist's office.

I met a driver who preferred Abba over the Beatles. I saw bands of teenage boys with their baseball caps cocked hip hop-style, and with Converse sneakers on their feet. Professors, attorneys, engineers and opposition-allied military commanders spoke flawless English as they introduced themselves.

A teacher who hadn't received a raise in 24 years welcomed us into her home for a lunch of lamb and pasta. I heard stories from the families of political prisoners kept incommunicado for years, from local journalists who had intelligence agents supervising their every report, from neighbors of a 10-year-old girl who was shot and killed while watching clashes from her balcony.

Some scenes were startling — a 13-year-old manning a checkpoint, for example, or adolescent boys taking a captured army tank for a joyride. Tribal elders and prominent intellectuals are calling for the return of the heavy weapons seized during battles with Gadhafi's mercenary-backed security forces.

The free flow of arms in such a fragile, divided nation raises fears of a catastrophic civil war. Libyans, like the Iraqis in 2003, vow to stand together, to work as "one hand." Reporters have little opportunity to examine such claims of national unity. The capital, Tripoli, and other government-held territories to the west remain off-limits to all but the most foolhardy independent reporters or the handful of journalists invited by the government.

Certainly, there are Gadhafi supporters. We saw them on TV Friday as they filled Tripoli's Green Square, waving flags as Gadhafi appeared in the flesh to rally his loyalists. Without being able to interview the pro-government groups, we can't ask their motivations for supporting a man who's being denounced by a growing number of his own diplomats, Cabinet members and military brass.

The restricted movement isn't even the biggest obstacle. Gadhafi's government has severed Internet service and international cell-phone calls in order to prevent opposition organizing and newsgathering. Without the Internet to double-check facts and history, we have to rely on the local consensus of events. Most days, we can't reach hospitals to gather casualty figures, so there are no firm tallies of the dead and wounded. Have hundreds died by now? Thousands?

After reporting all day, I'd dictate my stories over a fuzzy landline to Washington, a laborious process ("Yes, that's B as in Benghazi"). Videos and photos that backed protesters' claims of the regime's use of deadly force and African mercenaries couldn't be sent for days.

Still, even this limited media presence offers an unprecedented platform for Libyans in the east to voice their long-simmering fury against a leader who's clung to his seat for 42 years. They consider Gadhafi a violent egomaniac and call for international action to prevent him from causing further bloodshed.

Now if we could only get the same uncensored access to Tripoli and western parts of the country, we'd know whether residents there agree.

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© 2011, Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.