Friday, February 17, 2012

Anthony Shadid: in remembrance

I was quite sad about the passing of Anthony Shadid.  I never met Shadid although we have been in contact first via phone and then on email since his days in the Boston Globe.  He was a nice, modest, open-minded, persistent, courageous, and thoughtful reporter.  Comrade Talal after reading one of his long pieces on the Arab uprisings wrote to me that he was pleased that there is Anthony Shadid to cover the uprisings.  I sent the comment to Shadid who reacted with his typical modesty.  Shadid very often reacted to my critcicisms of things in his articles but always did that kindly and nicely and modestly.  Yet, he communicated with me but always insisted that it not be revealed that he is in contact with me (I guess being in contact with Angry Arab is bad for one's career in US journalism, even for someone of his stature).  He was clearly unhappy how Bahrain was not covered enough and took the initiative to cover it.  I was critical (mildly for me) of some of the early reporting of his on Syria because there was reliance on two US-based Syrians, and he wrote me that he would not cite them again, and never did (one of them was the Cicero of Syria).  Now that he is no more with us, I can cite from a message he wrote to me in response to a critical post I had:  "i don't want this on your blog, asad, but are you really calling me a zionist stooge? for fuck sake. how many times have i risked my life covering israeli atrocities. i'm exhausting myself trying to get some kind of balance into these syria stories and no one will go on the record about the awful stuff that happened in jisr know, as'ad, i love what you do. but i think your take on people like nada and me trying to change the way journalism is done is naive. do you really think we're sitting like schoolchildren before our editors? we have a different take on activism".  Shadid was shot during his coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict by Israeli terrorists (he believed he was shot by Israelis) and yet this is how the New York Time obituary covered that "incident":  "He was no stranger to injury, harassment and arrest. In 2002, while working for The Globe, he was shot and wounded in the shoulder as he walked on a street in Ramallah".   Shadid was by far the best reporter covering the Middle East in the Western press and he knew how to fill in the blanks and to situate any and every story in a larger political perspective.  While I never met him, the impression I developed him was reinforced by the impressions of people who knew him.  He was a decent and critical and anti-Zionist--we can say that now--correspondent working for a lousy Zionist publication.  Yet, he was not the type to compromise his beliefs and principles and it showed in his fine coverage of the region.  He never ever inserted annoying and obnoxious lines in favor of Israel--which is a staple of US journalism.