Letter from Ha’aretz reporter Amira Hass

Amira Hass writes today:

Dear friends,

The rumors and and some inaccuracies concerning my work at
Haaretz, and the general interest and manifested alarm -
indeed require my comments. You two have asked me directly about
those rumors. So here is my answer:

1. I am on an upaid sabbatical (since March 2008). It was my
request to have this leave of absence. I needed it badly, after
almost 15 years of covering the Israeli occupation from within (and
for a great part of this time – working up to 15 – 18 hours per
day). For long periods the work was done in the stressful
circumstances of military invasions, bombings and shellings,
standing in front of tanks or edgy armed soldiers, curfews, strict
closures, PA mainfested malcontent with any critical reporting etc.
No less stressful has been life in the orwelian theater of a
“peace process” – trying – usually in vain – to make the
readers and my compatriots aware of the deception and the
explosiveness of the situation.

2. In November 2007 i was told by Haaretz that my contract and
terms of employment should be changed as i had been writing too
little over the past year.

3. In November i was too tired and dispirited to be able to
explain all that was obviously needed to be explained, and to
negotiate the terms of a new contract, and therefore we agreed to
postpone everything. . According to my agreement with Haaretz, i may
write free lance during my year leave of absence. As i have been
away most of the time, it hasn’t happened yet (except for two
op-eds). Also, according to the agreement, by the end of the
sabbatical i’ll return to work for a half year – within the same
terms. It is then that it will be decided how to proceed.

4. Alll this took place BEFORE haaretz nominated a new editor
in chief.

5. As for the dismissal of other colleagues (several editors, not
only reporters): It is of course sad to know that people
who have worked for years, and dedicated time, thoughts, energy
and professionalism – have to start looking for a new place.
I do find it extremely deplorable that Miron Rapoport will not be
writing for Haaretz. He is a very prolific reporter, who excells
at investigations, who writes well and for whom journalism is
clearly about “monitoring power” and
challenging authorities.

Since i placed myself in Gaza, at the beginning of the 90′s, i have
learned that in our society (where there is democracy for Jews) -
the right for freedom of thought, expression and information is
fairly guaranteed. But there is no OBLIGATION to excercise these
liberties.

This year i intend to complete the writing of a book on Israel’s
policy of closure (“the robbery of time and space” – as i term
it).

thank you for your concern -

amira

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