In Saddam Hussein's spider-hole

In Saddam Hussein's spider-hole

My name is Orly Halpern. I’m a journalist who has been traveling across the Middle East (and occasionally beyond) for many years to discover and share untold stories. During the first year of the Iraq War I lived and reported from Iraq. Before that and since then I have been based in Jerusalem.

I have discovered from my reporting in the Muslim world that many of my perceptions about Arabs and Muslims, be they fighters, farmers or leaders of movements on the West’s terror lists, were wrong. (Ask me some time to tell you about my first interview with a Hamas leader in my car on the day of the 2006 Palestinian Legislative elections.) They were based on stereotypes or on what I was fed by my governments and – yes – by the media.

It’s our job as journalists to get past the rhetoric and the preconceived ideas. But doing that means taking risks. We may become targets of lobby groups or governments who want to stifle the truth in order to perpetuate their ideologies or their rule. Sometimes we even risk our lives, entering warzones or territory where we are perceived as the enemy, in order to discover and reveal what the Other wants, thinks, believes.

I take those risks because I believe that it can save lives. There is no with only one side and unless we know the other side conflicts continue.

So I aim with this blog to reveal the small stories of the occupation (which add up to so much pain – and eventually violence) and I will share my analysis of the moves of governments involved directly and indirectly with the region, but in particular the occupying government: Israel.

I assure/warn you that you will not be getting a rewrite of the the Israeli Foreign Ministry press releases.

I will also share the occasional frustration in my quest to find my B’shert, my Nasib, my Prince. He seems as elusive as peace in the Middle East.  We’ll see who or what comes first…

Feel free to comment, discuss, yell, cry, laugh. In fact, I encourage it. But please be thoughtful and respectful. No knee-jerk responses, no name-calling.  I look forward to sharing with and hearing from you!

I can also be reached for interviews and lectures via my email address: orly at orlyhalpern dot com.

6 responses to “About

  1. As someone also interested in exposing the small stories of occupation (in my case the absolute disregard for Israeli law in the West Bank as experienced by non settler Israelis) but without nearly the credentials that you have, I say good luck and I am looking forward to reading your stories.

    The barriers, by physical and societal, that are encountered by Israelis that want to create relationships, on the ground friendships and partnerships, are so strong and intense that it simply must be written about. Sometimes I feel like it is already too late. It is nice to find new voices out there especially ones that have mainstream journalistic experience.

  2. Orly: Thanks for yr comment at my blog & welcome to blogging! I see your brand, spanking new. Where are you based now? I ask because we’re starting to do some cool Jewish blogging activity here if you’re in the U.S.

  3. Dear Ms. Halpern – I enjoy reading your tweets so much – I am one of your many “followers” . I thank you for your hard work and keeping us informed – You are a greeat resource, talent and shining star of honesty so sorely missing in the M.E. Keep it up!

    Ps. Your posting of the ” Silwan” assault by settlers reminds me of a Village Voice article “Next Year in East Jerusalem” Micheal Emery – Jan. 7 1992 – Silwan was a theme then too.

  4. The Palestinian Arabs seem far more interested in destroying Israel than having a state. It’s not about freedom, or Israel making political concessions – it’s about not being able to accept threat there is even one square inch of the Middle East that Islam doesn’t rule. If Palestinians really wanted a state of their own – and were willing to accept reality (‘their’ land is also the unquestionable / original homeland of the Jewish people also, the Holocaust happened, an equal or greater number of Jewish REFUGEES were forced from Arab lands in the 40’s/50s/60s and had no where else to go but Israel) – they would have one — with FULL Israel, Islamic and international support – in a matter of months. And they have rejected all serious offers several times before.

    Every time Israel has made a concession of land for “peace” – it turns into “land for death” – like when it turned the Gazan strip over to the Arabs – who elected brutal, racist regime who turned their homes and hospitals into stockades and launching pads for Iranian rockets.

    There may be some aspects of denial in Israel society, but it pales in comparison to the extreme denial of history/reality , hatred, racism and desire for destruction of Israel that many Palis harbor.

    It seems that you think that many of the problems in the Middle East revolve around the fact that there is a tiny sliver of Jewish state surrounded by enemies who refuse to reason or co-exist peacefully – and that America is in Iraq – which you call “occupation.”

    I think the so-called “occupation” is a scapegoat and a distraction for the many real problems in the region. The “occupation” is a reaction to wholesale hostility and violation of human rights and civilized humanity (live and let live) in the region – not the cause of it.

    Why don’t you tell any painful truths about all the griefs the Arabs and Palestinians have created for THEMSELVES – with their hard-line, extremist philosophies and blaming external parties for their own suffering?

    Israel is a country of refugees. Refugees who were ethnically cleansed out of the Middle East and Europe by people very hostile to them. Refugees who treat their bretheren very differently than Arab countries – who have stripped fellow Arab refugees of their rights and refused to help them – except to use them as pawns to make war on Israel.

    In 60 years Israeli refugees have been so resourceful and cooperative with each other, and transcended the terrible situations they weer forced into – that most of the world can’t think of them as refugees or even remember the huge crises that existed. Israelis accept whatever cards life deals us, and we never allow ourselves to suffer for decades while crying and blaming everyone but ourselves.

    Why don’t you tell the “painful truths” about how Arab war mongering, infighting and extremists politics have been thing main thing has squandered the chances of peace, prosperity and statehood for the Palestinian Arabs and many other minorities in the Middle East?

    Here’s a “painful truth” about one of the major causes of Palestinian suffering – wanton corruption:


  5. Clarence Puckett

    Orly: am I understanding you right to say Israel is the occupiers ? Or could we put it another way like: defenders of their soverign land and people from a never ending attempt to destroy her by Arab armies or terriosts ? Israel should have never given any of the land back after three major wars on them and even now over 6000 missiles fired at them this past year; how about the Arab Charter to destroy them ?That would have to be burned before any kind of peace talks
    occur; I don’t know of a single time an Israeli wore a bomb vest and blew up innocent civilians
    including children, but I can’t count the years and times before the wall went up, buses and restaurants were blown all to hell by fanatical
    arabs. Let us deal with facts and not fantasy.

  6. Ms. Halpern, I am glad you realize that “the West needs to understand the untold stories about OCCUPATION.”

    And I am sure you will start at the right point, that is in 1920, rather than the usual timeline which ignores everything that happened before 1967.