Dear Martin Woker


In response to the Media Comment column Eli Pollak and I published in this paper on the NZZ, this has been published in the Letters to the Editor section:-


Criticism unwarranted

Sir, – With regard to “Swiss media ethics” (Media Comment, July 5) by Yisrael Medad and Eli Pollak, I would like to state the following: The authors of the article accuse the Neue Zürcher Zeitung in general and our correspondent to Israel in particular of unprofessional and biased reporting. As an example, some parts of an article by our correspondent on the situation in Susya were cited.We have been carefully reviewing all of the NZZ’s reporting on the West Bank during the past six months. Our conclusion, which is shared by trusted professionals, is that solid and unbiased reporting of a high standard has been assured.In the last paragraph Medad and Pollak issue a warning regarding further contact with our correspondent. This comes near to a call for a boycott, particularly as our correspondent is cited with her full name.I am astonished to see that your highly prestigious and honorable paper gave clear approval to such a practice, which we consider to be in contradiction with the principle of a free media.MARTIN WOKER Zurich The writer is foreign editor of Neue Zürcher Zeitung


Well, dear Mr. Woker,


First of all, I am glad Israel has a free press and that the Jerusalem Post exlemplifies that tradition (btw, would you publish a letter from me on this issue?).

Second, in no way did we call for a boycott nor even come near.  Spokespersons of politicians, institutions, organizations and businesses all over the world, including communities in Judea and Samaria, occasionally make it clear to journalists who engage in either unethical or unprofessional practices that they can be cut off from contact.  That is a very acceptable relationship in the media world.  As a journalist, the least one could expect from Mr. Woker is to quote in a proper fashion what we did write:


We would strongly urge all those who are approached by Bolliger and others in the future to be very careful in what they say to her and at the very least provide responses only after obtaining assurances of fair play.


In fact, there is no boycott threat or even an implication of such.  Moreover, by writing "in what they say", we actually imply clearly that people should speak to her, despite the insufficient professionalism of Monika Bolliger.  Just be careful.  And if she doesn''t include your words or misquotes you,


then you have every professional media justification not to talk to her again.


But, thirdly, Mr. Woker chooses an easy way out - he doesn''t reply to our main point which was: why did Bolliger''s article not include a reaction from a Sussia rep or a statement that one refused to respond?  To borrow from Shakespeare, that is the question which Woker avoided.  Here, let me repeat:


One of us (EP) wrote a letter to Mr. Markus Spillmann, chief editor of the NZZ, pointing out that the article does not give any right of response to anyone on the Israeli side that is attacked in the article. The testimony of one “Samih Nawaja” is described in detail, but his accusations both against Israeli citizens and the IDF remain unanswered.  The right of response is arguably one of the most important elements in journalism codes worldwide.


Fourthly, while we mentioned the Sussia story and one on Battir, here is Ms. Bolliger on Bet El from June 21:


Zweierlei Mass

Die Unzufriedenheit der Siedler Ulpanas irritiert, wenn man ihre Konditionen mit denjenigen der Palästinenser vergleicht. Wenn diese ohne, da für sie kaum erhältliche Bewilligung in den von Israel kontrollierten Gebieten Cisjordaniens bauen, erhalten sie in der Regel eine Rechnung statt einer Kompensation für den Abriss ihrer Häuser. Dies, obwohl sie üblicherweise auf ihrem eigenen Land wohnen, wie etwa im Fall des derzeit vom Abriss bedrohten Dorfes Susya.


That reads:


Double Standard

The discontent of the settlers at the Ulpana neighborhood is irritable when you compare their conditions with those of the Palestinians. This is because building permits are rarely available to them in the Israeli-controlled areas of Cisjordanien [West Bank - although she wouldn''t call Jordan, TransJordan, would she? - YM], as they generally receive an invoice rather than a compensation for the demolition of their homes. This, even though they usually live on their own land, as in the case of Susya village currently threatened with demolition.


If you still think Ms. Bolliger is professional, well, there may be a job as an editor for you at the NZZ.