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Byline: JOHN IRVINE John Irvine may refer to:
  • John Irvine (journalist), Northern Irish ITN journalist
  • John Irving, American novelist

The question is always the same, whether it's an Israeli or Palestinian checkpoint.

"Where are you from?" Like most journalists operating on the West Bank and Gaza Strip For the West Bank and Gaza Strip please see one of the following:
  • Judea and Samaria
  • West Bank
  • Gaza Strip
  • Yesha
  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • Israel
  • Palestinian territories
  • Gush Katif
 we have 'TV' emblazoned in huge letters on the sides of our bullet-proof vehicles and when the policemen or soldiers pose the question, they want to know what television station and which country.

When I was new to this place, two years ago, the reply was, "ITN ITN n abbr (Brit) (= Independent Television News) → chaîne de télévision commerciale

ITN (Brit) n abbr (TV) (= Independent Television News) →
, British television British television broadcasting has a range of different broadcasters, broadcasting multiple channels over a variety of distribution media. Major broadcasters
There are six major broadcasters: Free-to-air analogue terrestrial networks
". Often the British bit didn't go down that well, so now my stock answer is always, "Ireland... from Belfast actually".

The reaction is first a smile, then either an incredulous, "And you chose to come here?" or a nodding, "Ah, so you understand what's going on What's Going On is a record by American soul singer Marvin Gaye. Released on May 21, 1971 (see 1971 in music), What's Going On reflected the beginning of a new trend in soul music. ."

"Yes, I suppose. Same story, better weather."

We usually get waved through the roadblocks where other news crews are often stopped.

Both sides here feel an empathy with Northern Ireland Northern Ireland: see Ireland, Northern.
Northern Ireland

Part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland occupying the northeastern portion of the island of Ireland. Area: 5,461 sq mi (14,144 sq km). Population (2001): 1,685,267.
 - Israeli journalists in particular use the Belfast of the seventies and eighties as the nadir that Jerusalem and Tel Aviv Tel Aviv (tĕl əvēv`), city (1994 pop. 355,200), W central Israel, on the Mediterranean Sea. Oficially named Tel Aviv–Jaffa, it is Israel's commercial, financial, communications, and cultural center and the core of its largest  must avoid at all costs.

There's no doubt there are similarities between the two conflicts. During the mid nineties, the Middle East and Northern Ireland peace processes both seemed to be heading in the right direction, but not now.

The Belfast I returned to over the New Year was very different from the one I left in August 2000. Vast swathes of the city that I remember as derelict have been regenerated with flash office buildings, bars and restaurants.

Belfast even has an ice hockey ice hockey: see hockey, ice.
ice hockey

Game played on an ice rink by two teams of six players on skates. The object is to drive a puck (a small, hard rubber disk) into the opponents' goal with a hockey stick, thus scoring one point.
 team with its own home rink, the Odyssey. The Giants have no historical religious baggage and as such are a wonderfully neutral, as well as popular phenomenon.

Attitudes have also changed. There's optimism in the air. How quickly people have shrugged off the gloom that was part and parcel of their lives for so long.

PROBLEMS remain, of course. Recent events in North Belfast, in particular, show there's not yet clear blue water ahead.

Looking back, things sure are much improved on a decade ago. A political accommodation of sorts has been found, a complicated arrangement, scratch-built to suit the Province's peculiarities.

But it has shown itself to be more durable - some would say malleable - than many had feared. It has also allowed people to set aside the national question for the time being.

Both sides now have the chance to be stakeholders, with the best interests of Northern Ireland at heart, regardless of whether they see it as part of the UK or a united Ireland The of this article or section may be compromised by "weasel words".
You can help Wikipedia by removing weasel words.

How different the perspective is in Jerusalem. The peace process that had appeared to be developing in tandem Adv. 1. in tandem - one behind the other; "ride tandem on a bicycle built for two"; "riding horses down the path in tandem"
 with Northern Ireland's is now all but defunct.

My own career began almost a generation ago as a reporter at the Tyrone Constitution The Tyrone Constitution is a newspaper based in Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It is published by the Alpha Newspaper Group. ITN journalist John Irvine started his career at the paper.

It's affectionately referred to by locals as "the Con".
 in Omagh.

I covered Belfast for the next 17 years, first for the paper, then for Ulster Television and subsequently as ITN's Ireland correspondent. And in covering stories from the Shankill Road
For the district of Dublin, see Shankill, Dublin. For the 1918–1922 UK Parliament constituency, see Belfast Shankill (UK Parliament constituency)

The Shankill Road (Irish: Bóthar na Seanchille
, Enniskillen and Drumcree I felt that I had become fairly hardened.

I believe I was better equipped, in that sense, to come out here than many other journalists would be.

But the truth is that nothing can really prepare you for the shock of how cheaply human life is valued here. There are so many violent deaths, at such short intervals, that no one killing can be mused upon for too long.

As one of my US colleagues noted, the lead story can change every 30 minutes.

The fact that my wife and child have come with me only reinforces that feeling. In one case, the head of a suicide bomber Noun 1. suicide bomber - a terrorist who blows himself up in order to kill or injure other people
act of terrorism, terrorism, terrorist act - the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political
 ended up in my child's school playground.

In Belfast I covered riots and stone-throwing which could sometimes be very tense and frightening. But even that couldn't prepare me for the West Bank, where 200 stone throwers have been shot dead in the past four months.

AND in Belfast, the days of no-warning attacks and of the deliberate slaughter of civilians have - with the tragic exception of Omagh - largely become a thing of the past. Not here.

The difference is that, in Jerusalem, what divides still dominates.

What kind of hatred compels a young Palestinian man to become a suicide bomber?

Many of them are university graduates who suddenly become gripped by a desire to kill as many Israelis as possible - the ending of their own lives being a necessity to that end.

The Israeli reaction is always predictable, often understandable, but never a resolution. Experience suggests heavy-handedness is a great recruiting sergeant A recruiting sergeant Is a British or American soldier of the rank of sergeant who is tasked to enlist recruits. The term originated in the British army of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  for more suicide bombers.

For the moment, there is no political solution in sight. Both the Israelis and Palestinians are led by old men with neither the inclination or the ability to prepare their peoples for the compromises necessary for peace.

The Israeli prime minister must take much of the blame for sparking the Palestinian uprising in September 2000.

Protected by hundreds of armed soldiers he walked onto the Temple Mount, Jerusalem's most contested holy site, and proclaimed it an integral part of Israel.

It was taken by the Israelis during the Six-Day War Six-Day War: see Arab-Israeli Wars.
Six-Day War
 or Arab-Israeli War of 1967

War between Israel and the Arab countries of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.
, but it is also the third-holiest site in Islam.

It's rather like Ian Paisley walking through Derry's Bogside and declaring it British. Technically he's right, but Yassir Arafat is still talking about the Palestinian "right-of-return" to Israel.

If that's not acknowledged, he says, there'll be no deal. Well, if Israel allows four million Palestinian refugees inside its borders then the Jews will be outnumbered. There would be no more Israel, so it won't happen.

The Middle East peace process is all but defunct and a commentator has observed, "Belfast is already a generation ahead of Jerusalem.

In Northern Ireland, the Good Friday agreement is a complicated marriage contract. Both parties married for money and power. Instead of tearing strips off each other, the politicians find themselves in control of a huge budget that must be shared.

The situation in the Holy Land is different.

What's required here is a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences The existence of significant differences between a married couple that are so great and beyond resolution as to make the marriage unworkable, and for which the law permits a Divorce. .


HOLY LAND: A wounded Palestinian is carried to safety; HOLY CROSS: Children go to school in divided North Belfast
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 15, 2002
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