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June 30, 2006

How not to be John Humphreys

Jon Snow's giving a perfect demonstration of how to defeat your interviewee without resorting to Humphreys–style incredulation. The interview went something like this:

Jon Snow: How does blowing up a Palestinian power station help you get back the Israeli soldier?
Israeli spokesman: (Answers a different question)
Jon Snow: It's a simple question - what's to be gained from blowing up the power station?
Israeli spokesman: Well it's easier for us to capture him if there's darkness.
Jon Snow: Surely it's easier to smuggle someone around if there's darkness?
Israeli spokesman: Er… umm… (Answers a different question again)


Besides which destroying a power station (Gaza's only power source) which will take six months to rebuild (not that the Palestininans can afford it) is perhaps going to cause considerable damage to the Palestinian people (no power = no clean water) when one soldier's life (paid to potentially sacrifice his life) is at stake.

Also today, there's been a bit of a debate over whether the BBC should say the solider was 'captured' or 'kidnapped'. Personally if it's a soldier, then it's sort of an 'act of war', so capture sounds appropriate. I prefer kidnapping to be used solely in relation to civilians, as using it in relation to soldiers would slightly diminish the power of the word. But then it's a bit of a non–debate – I don't care which is used and am sure the same term would be used if it was a British, American or an Israeli soldier.

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