Notes From the Holy Land

E-mail Rick

I just got back from two weeks in the Holy Land, covering a slot in our Jerusalem Bureau for Jennifer Griffin, FNC's longtime Mideast correspondent. She was traveling in Afghanistan and Baghdad, preparing for her new assignment at the Pentagon.

Jennifer is being replaced in Israel by Reena Ninan, a correspondent most recently working out of our New York bureau, who has also done a number of tours in Iraq over the past year. Reena has some big shoes to fill, but she's talented, smart, motivated and excited about her move to the region.

While Jen was gone and Reena was moving, I split shifts in the office with Mike Tobin, but didn't get much face-time. Anna Nicole was dominating news coverage, and the twister in Alabama, as well as the bus crash in Georgia both happened while I was overseas. I filed stories for radio, but it wasn't until my last day that I did several live shots on Ali Rez Asgari, the former Iranian Deputy Defense Minister believed to have defected during a trip to Turkey.

Some say Israeli Intelligence helped his break to the West. Officially, the Israeli government denies it, but knowledgeable people I spoke with have little doubt that the Mossad (Israel's CIA)

My trip home was uneventful but lonnnnng. The flight from Tel Aviv to Newark is about 11.5 hours, but if you add in travel time to the airport, the check-in process, waiting in customs, waiting for your bag, and navigating tunnel traffic back into New York City … it took more than 17 hours door to door.

I was exhausted, but thrilled to watch college hoops when I landed on my couch.

Rick Leventhal has been a New York-based correspondent with the FOX News Channel since June 1997. You can read his bio here.