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Response to Dan Cohen’s Gaza article from a ‘Forward’ editor

on 22 Comments

Yesterday we published “A Jewish reporter in Gaza responds to Jane Eisner,” Dan Cohen’s response to a piece by Forward editor Eisner called “Why the Forward Sent a Brave Reporter to Gaza,” in which she described the decision to send their Middle East correspondent, Naomi Zeveloff, to Gaza for a three day reporting trip. Larry Cohler-Esses, an assistant managing editor at the newspaper, had this response:

I think Dan Cohen is missing some important points:

1) Naomi is Jewish and a female, which is often a different experience.

Larry Cohler-Esses (Photo: Jewish Daily Forward)

Larry Cohler-Esses (Photo: Jewish Daily Forward)

2) Dan Cohen goes in as a pro-Palestinian individual free-lance journalist who is Jewish. Naomi goes in representing an explicitly Jewish, pro-Zionist news organization. That is something with very different implications from POV of potential security issues.

3) Hamas is currently in the midst of an intense conflict w/ militants who declare their loyalty to the Islamic State.

4) Some reporters have, in fact, been kidnapped in Gaza and have remained in captivity for months, sometimes in very scary circumstances.,7340,L-4623164,00.html

This is a risk Dan Cohen can evaluate on his own as an individual. The calculations for a pro-Zionist publication w/ significant resources that might be of interest to a group that declares its fealty to IS and presumably, IS’s tactics of kidnap and ransom, are totally, profoundly different.

Meanwhile, it’s a shame the conversation has been diverted to this from Naomi’s actual story, which is what counts.

Larry Cohler-Esses
Assistant managing editor, News
The Forward

Editor’s addendum: One thing that was evidently not clear to all readers: Dan is in Gaza in part on assignment/at the behest of our site,

Mondoweiss Editors

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22 Responses

  1. pabelmont on June 10, 2015, 4:00 pm

    If reporters have actually been kidnapped. if there really are dangers, then who are we (at MW) to pooh-pooh Forward’s fear of the same? What we should do is to read the resulting article, see who Forward’s reporter talked to, see what she experienced socially, etc. If she manages to return from her (was it 3 day?) visit w/o getting a solid information about physical damage, psychological damage, deaths and injuries, the history of Gaza since 1947, then shat was she there for? But if she does get this stuff and reports it, then what’s there to complain of (except the too-short visit and perhaps her list of people to visit).

  2. just on June 10, 2015, 4:16 pm

    Was Naomi wearing a shirt identifying herself as a “Jewish female, representing an explicitly Jewish, pro-Zionist news organization.”?

    pffffft, Larry Cohler-Esses. Why no mention of Eisner, Larry?

    (why does this remind me of Rudoren & Blitzer and their “terror tunnel” adventures?)

    • Waterbuoy on June 12, 2015, 11:00 am

      This is a nonsequitur but your ‘shirt identifying’ reminds me of Jason Jones’ “Behind the Veil” feature on his tour of Iran a couple of years back for “The Daily Show”.
      In one shot he and his producer are seen walking away from the camera through a Tehran bazaar…. with Jason wearing a t-shirt saying “I’m with Jew” … arrow pointing at producer, while the commentary remarked on their attention to their safety.

  3. a blah chick on June 10, 2015, 4:31 pm

    Wow, that response emitted so much snootiness I had to turn on the fan just to see the computer screen.

    “The calculations for a pro-Zionist publication w/ significant resources that might be of interest to a group that declares its fealty to IS and presumably, IS’s tactics of kidnap and ransom, are totally, profoundly different. ”

    Excuse me but when did Hamas do “fealty” to Isis, that’s just pure Israeli propaganda that Larry Cohler-Esses (what did Wodehouse say about people with three names?) repeats though it has been thoroughly disproved. Then he kinda disrespects Mondoweiss as being low hanging fruit that no self respecting terrorist would ever think about attacking. No, they would rather go after the Forward with its deep pockets.

    Phil, as we say down south, he’s treating you like a red-headed step-child.

    • annie on June 10, 2015, 4:47 pm

      Excuse me but when did Hamas do “fealty” to Isis

      a blah chick, i didn’t read “a group” (in “might be of interest to a group that declares its fealty to IS” ) as meaning hamas. he also wrote:

      “Hamas is currently in the midst of an intense conflict w/ militants who declare their loyalty to the Islamic State.

      hamas is in conflict w/other militias inside gaza, and when i was there in 2009 when we were in large groups we were continually protected (guarded) by hamas who likely anticipated we could be targeted. actors who want to escalate the conflict w/israel are many and there are rival groups in gaza.

      however, i felt very safe there always. i felt protected by people everywhere. and i went downtown to buy presents for some friends i met there and took taxis crammed with people and never felt unsafe. the only time i was worried was when we were near the border and the bus driver wouldn’t take us on a road because he thought it was unsafe wrt israeli soldiers.

      • annie on June 10, 2015, 4:53 pm

        i liked gaza, i will go back, the people there are wonderful.

      • a blah chick on June 10, 2015, 5:12 pm

        “a blah chick, i didn’t read “a group” (in “might be of interest to a group that declares its fealty to IS” ) as meaning hamas.”

        Okay, I’ll let him slide on that, but I still think he’s a bone head. Also if he cares so much about the safety of journalists why doesn’t he mention all the ones Israel has killed. As you point out the truly dangerous people there are not in Gaza but the ones who control it.

        I’m glad you were able to come away with good memories.

  4. annie on June 10, 2015, 4:58 pm

    i wonder what Larry Cohler-Esses thinks of israel’s administrative detention policies. it’s much more likely someone would be kidnapped and tortured by the israeli military than by hamas.

    • just on June 10, 2015, 5:20 pm

      +1, Annie!

      “i liked gaza, i will go back, the people there are wonderful.”

      No doubt you will. So will I.


    • Stephen Shenfield on June 11, 2015, 7:54 am

      Annie: “Someone” might be, but not “a representative of an explicitly pro-Zionist news organization.”

  5. wondering jew on June 10, 2015, 7:42 pm

    The original piece by Dan Cohen was ridiculous and reflected the preaching to the choir prevalent here at mw. now it is a topic for whataboutery by the denizens and moderators of this web site.

    but back to the fact: the original post by dan cohen was ridiculous.

    • James North on June 10, 2015, 7:50 pm

      Yonah: Really, “ridiculous?” Most people in the outside world believe that a Jew in Gaza would have his head cut off, like someone who strayed into ISIS territory, not be treated warmly like Dan Cohen is. Dan simply set the record straight, based on his first-hand experience. What’s “ridiculous” about that?

      • wondering jew on June 10, 2015, 8:12 pm


        Okay. I’ll retract “ridiculous”.

        But here’s my take away.

        Look at me taking pictures of a Palestinian with a submachine gun. I’m safe. And you’ll be safe too. And if you think you won’t be safe, you must be a racist. (i’d call it juvenile rather than ridiculous.)

        It’s preaching to the choir. It’s self satisfied, let me use the Forward as a foil and call them racists. Not nearly an attempt to communicate. Certainly not useful.

        Communication with Zionists is really frowned upon here at mw, or haven’t you noticed? This is in keeping with mw’s tendency to scoff at Zionists and call them racists. Never communication. Always scorn.

      • marv on June 11, 2015, 1:32 am

        what I think yona fredman is really missing here is that at a time when thousands of Palestinians are being killed, the idea that Eisner should be worried for her safety is preposterous. Maybe Dan didn’t develop this point enough, but to focus on the fear of white, Jewish, journalists who are opting to enter into a war zone, is to completely miss the point…
        Was Eisner, or Cohen, brave for entering that space? Sure! Gaza was being carpet bombed, and anyone who goes there of their own accord could be called brave (if that’s the word for it). But then to imagine that she could be a victim in this situation, that ‘anti-zionism’ or ‘antisemism’ are reigning supreme in Gaza is to intentionally obfuscate the actual goings on. The difference between her, Cohen or any other white journalist and the Palestinians who live there? They decided to come, and if they decide it’s too dangerous? They leave. That surely can’t be said for 2200 dead.
        And to the point that “communications with zionists is really frowned upon” – if this is true, what is she doing there in the first place? What contribution can she make to information coming out of Gaza at that time? When thousands are dying, should are focus or worry be on those who target Zionists IN GAZA? Can we reasonably argue that Gazans are ‘anti-zionist’ or even ‘anti-semitic’? What is more dehumanizing (and enabling) than calling victims of mass-murder ‘racists’? What sort of materials are you using for your blinders to make that observation?? It’s damn effective… you might be up for an Israel prize for it.

      • eljay on June 11, 2015, 8:11 am

        || y.f.: Communication with Zionists is really frowned upon here at mw, or haven’t you noticed? This is in keeping with mw’s tendency to scoff at Zionists and call them racists. Never communication. Always scorn. ||

        Poor Zio-supremacists, always the victims! :-(

        They come to MW to advocate, justify and defend Jewish supremacism in/and a supremacist “Jewish State”, and to justify and defend Israel’s decades-long record of past and on-going (war) crimes.

        And they accuse the people who are communicating with them – people who advocate justice, accountability and equality – of anti-Semitism and Jew-hatred and wanting to annihilate Israel and/or “the Jews”.

        And these people dare to scoff at them! :-(

      • Kris on June 11, 2015, 11:06 am

        @yonah fredman:

        Communication with Zionists is really frowned upon here at mw, or haven’t you noticed? This is in keeping with mw’s tendency to scoff at Zionists and call them racists. Never communication. Always scorn.

        Yonah, given that you often do not reply when you are asked questions, how is it that you are seeking “communication”? Are you here to discuss, or just to make accusations and run? For example, yesterday I asked you this, but, as usual, you haven’t replied:

        yonah, could you please explain what is self-absorbed about the post you’re commenting on? Do you mean it’s self-absorption to be concerned about the glaring differences between Judaism and Zionism? Could you explain what makes someone a “Jew”?

        RobertHenryEller wrote:

        I recommend to my fellow Jews that, rather than worrying about anti-Semitism, they worry about how un-Jewish, even anti-Jewish, so much of manifest Zionism is. Specifically, how can so-called Jews remain Jews if they abandon 30% of the Ten Commandments (Thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not steel, thou shalt not kill.) as well as abandoning Rabbi Hillel’s Golden Rule.
        – See more at:

      • echinococcus on June 11, 2015, 7:43 pm

        tendency to scoff at Zionists and call them racists.

        Justifiedly. So why not?

        Never communication. Always scorn.

        What’s the point of any communication? What is wrong with scorn?

      • Mooser on June 12, 2015, 1:36 pm

        “Look at me taking pictures of a Palestinian with a submachine gun. I’m safe.”

        Who’s got the sub-machine gun? The Palestinian kids or Dan Cohen?

        – Yonah, I think you’ve pulled a couple too many pills from the bottle, buddy.

  6. Stephen Shenfield on June 11, 2015, 7:58 am

    Yonah: There have been many attempts on MW to communicate with Zionists — I have made some of them myself — but at a certain point the dialogue is broken off. And it is always the Zionist who breaks it off.

  7. dianeshammas on June 11, 2015, 12:44 pm

    Larry, I beg to differ with you on a few points coming from a woman who spent 3 months at a time in Gaza (renting an apartment) for 3 years 2010-2012, and in 2013, spent two weeks. I have a PhD in international education and urban higher education from the University of Southern California, because of my topics of interest, I taught at USC and Al Azhar University in the department of American Ethnic Studies and American Cultural Studies, at American Corner where my viewpoint is of historical revisionism a la Howard Zinn. I also volunteered my time as a research analyst working on 2008-2009 war on Gaza SPSS data and testimonies from Palestinian civilians at Gaza Community Mental Health Programme. I am fluent in French and Spanish, and also I can read, write, and speak Arabic at an intermediate level.
    Basically, my experience is a testimony and in dispute of your points 1 and 2. I am a woman, and pro-Palestinian but the citizens can view me as a traitor based on the history of Lebanese-Palestinian relations where Palestinians have been treated as second class citizens. I also am American so that is branded across my face when I enter Gaza. If I wear a headscarf I look more like Turkish and can pass as an Arab.

    1) Naomi is a woman and pro-Zionist. I am a woman too and academic/activist and my background differs from hers, but we both have the same dangers, on my paternal side I am a Lebanese American Christian (quasi federal classification, Arab American) . Depending on the criteria applied to determine second or third generation, I fall into both as my father was born in the U.S.
    If you know anything about the relations between Lebanese and Palestinians during the 1974-1990 civil war, there were bitter disputes, based on the Cairo Accords allowing Palestinians to establish their own militias without the Lebanese Forces’ intervention. This carried over to all sects, Shia, Sunni, and Christian where we had battles with the Palestinians that led to severe discrimination against them. The Palestinians are keenly sensitive to how little civil rights that they have in Lebanon, despite committees formed at the Grand Serail to redress socio-economic inequalities.
    So my presence in Palestine, American and Lebanese did not help me at all. Even though my father’s first cousin, served as a third secretary to the UN on Lebanon in the 1960s, ambassador to Iraq, Greece, and Germany, and led the 1992 Madrid Talks covering Israel’s 20 year occupation of Lebanon and at that time 44 year occupation of Palestine, those present were Martin Indyk, and Haidar Abdel Shafi, whose monument is graced in the center of Gaza City.
    In addition, I had to deal with COGAT, blessing my application to enter Gaza, with always comments from Israeli majors in charge of entry into Gaza– well you have an Arab surname and will take longer to process your application (on one application they mistook me for a Palestinian student seeking study abroad and had to hire an Israeli attorney to settle the misunderstanding).
    So on both sides I am met with racism from Israel and trepidation from my so called Arab compatriots.

    3) ISIS (Da3sh) in Gaza. By reliable media sources, this is an American and Israeli scare tactic. Hamas are such egomaniacs and want total control of Gaza, apart from defectors that might travel to the ISIS side, that this is not as much a threat as in my ancestral country of Lebanon where it is a genuine concern.

    4) Reporter kidnappings in Gaza. Some have been kidnapped. The “genuine” kidnappings were Johnston when the corrupt Fatah government was in power, which Hamas successfully freed him. The second was my comrade/friend Vittorio Arrigoni, who was an ISM solidarity activist who also wrote for the Manifesto newspaper in Italy. I was in Gaza when he was kidnapped and it was a harrowing experience for those of us who were fighting for his release. As for your links of the yellow journalism of Fox News, these reporters were detained not kidnapped similar to what Israeli government does daily to Palestinian activists and children. So this link is irrelevant. By the way my own relatives were kidnapped by Iraqi “insurgents” and threatened with beheadings so detainment described in Fox News and YNET do not count.

    5) As Dan Cohen will tell you, the Palestinian people, especially my students, who btw do not support Hamas or Fatah, but want a democratic life for themselves, are a welcoming people. At this point in time Iraq and Syria and the Sinai (where I had an experience) are far greater danger zones than Gaza.

    6) I have lived through Israeli airstrikes AS A WOMAN and I learned to be stoic. My students, many of whom lived in refugee camps and also the third whose families were born in Gaza and happen to live in Toufah (Apple) community are the most likely to be bombarded. Every time I heard three bombs in succession meaning that Israel meant “business” I learned to be calm and not disturb my students and relate how scared I was. In Gaza you have distinctions between refugees and those whose families are not refugees but born in Gaza.

    7) Larry, Gaza (like Syria and Lebanon) is complex, you cannot paint Palestinians/Gaza with a single brush.

    • MHughes976 on June 11, 2015, 3:52 pm

      It’s very helpful to have information from someone with so much experience of the reality. I recently encountered someone who had worked as a doctor in Gaza – he remarked that you can’t be there and not see the truth. So I wonder what the impact on Naomi’s consciousness will be.

  8. sherban on June 11, 2015, 1:00 pm

    The answer is stupid.I,m sure no one in Gaza make a danger for Zionist but fair reporting from Gaza,for sur Avnery,Gidon Levi,Amira Has and so on doesn,t feel thretened there.I don,t reed Forward but probably is a tool of Israel propaganda and this is the reason of its insecurity feeling

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