The letter from Texas had taken a couple of months to find its way to my desk in Cairo. Inside was a $100 bill and a brief note.
Every so often in journalism, something you write touches readers, and they feel moved to help. Usually, I was delighted when that happened, but this time my reaction was weary and ungenerous.
Getting the money to the intended recipient wasn’t going to be easy. It meant another trip into violence and danger. For a minute or two, I thought about sending the money back to Texas.
In December of 1987, a Palestinian teenager stoned my car as I drove alone through the West Bank. I was new in my job as The Wall Street Journal’s Mideast correspondent, and my editor had asked me to get an interview with one of the youths involved in the uprising that had suddenly erupted in Israel’s occupied territories. So I jumped from my damaged car and chased after the boy, whose face was wrapped in a red-checked headscarf. We ended up spending the afternoon together in the crumbling four-room, raw-concrete hovel he shared with 12 younger siblings, and I subsequently wrote an article about an intelligent 15-year-old named Raed who wanted to be a doctor but knew there was no hope of such a future for a boy in his circumstances. Instead, he was willing to die, fighting with stones.