The Forward reports that the French broadcasting authority has had to go to court to request that the Hizbullah station's broadcasting license be removed just two weeks after it was granted. Apparently, the paper's "Calls seeking comments from Al Manar in Beirut were unsuccessful."
Back when I was reporting for the Jerusalem Post, I also tried phoning Hizbullah for a comment on something or other after I noticed their number on a contact list belonging to one of my colleagues, sitting freely on their desk, and got curious. My colleague told me that the best way to reach them was not to let on that you were an Israeli or from an Israeli/Jewish publication. He recommended I said I was from 'The Post,' and that if they pushed, I say I was calling from East Jerusalem.
Now, maybe I was silly for giving up the opportunity to get a quote, but I felt very strongly that I wasn't going to lie: if they wanted to speak to me as a Jerusalem Post reporter, fine, but if not, their quote was just an afterthought anyway. I phoned up, and some guy answered the phone perfectly politely -- until he asked what publication I was working for and hung up on me.
For a moment, I actually felt offended. One reason was because as Israeli journalists, we had absolutely no problem phoning up Palestinians from every part of the political map and speaking to them freely. Contacts with Hamas are (or perhaps were?) routine; every Israeli reporter has numbers of key Hamas spokespeople, and I daresay some of them even have 'working' relationships. On one occasion, I was looking for a cellphone number for some woman with the last name 'Barghouti,' and when I phoned the number another colleague gave me, was surprised to hear a man answer. It was, of course, Marwan -- my colleague had mistakenly read off the wrong number.....
This situation has come to feel so natural that no one really thinks how strange it really is under current conditions.
The difference between the Palestinians' and Hizbullah's attitude to Israeli reporters shows a couple of things. Firstly, that there is a degree of intimacy between the Palestinian and Israeli people which comes from having been in each other's homes, workplaces and cities for so long, and which actually allows some kind of cooperation when necessary. Perhaps that can be turned (back) into something positive in the future. Secondly, that the Palestinians realize the importance of Israeli public opinion and how easily they can influence it, and are pragmatically willing to talk to enemy reporters to do so. Hizbullah -- supposedly the media whizzes -- do not care how they are portrayed in Israel, and are not willing to talk to the Israeli press even if this would result in a strategic gain. That's how much they hate us.