Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Obligatory Post on the Jerusalem Bus Bombing

Terrible morning. We wish a full recovery to those who were wounded, and offer condolences to the friends and relatives of those who were killed.

Aside from the fact that a bomb exploded killing at least 1 person, and seriously wounding several others, here are a few things I find distasteful about this morning's events in Jerusalem:

:: That I'm required by some blogger law to post about it. I'm not saying I don't want to post about the attack, or that I think its beneath my notice, just that I don't always have something new, or interesting, or satisfying to say, and I resent being expected to just make something up for the sake of the judgmental masses. Can't we just agree that not posting about a terrorist attack is okay, and that it doesn't necessarily mean something? Can't we just agree you're not going to email me demanding to know when my post about the attack is going to appear, or expressing bewilderment that a whole half of the morning has gone by without a comment from DovBear? Do I really have to keep saying that I think attacks on civilians are despicable, and impossible to justify? OK: This morning's attack on civilians was despicable and impossible to justify. Happy?

:: The knee-jerk attacks on the New York Time, which this morning at 10:00 a.m. had an article about Liz Taylor's death in the top spot on its website. At least 5 of my Twitter friends thought this was inexcusable. A few things you have to understand:

(1)  Obituaries about famous people are written well in advance, so that they can be posted in the top spot on your website the very instant a celebrity dies. The Taylor obituary has been ready to go for weeks, if not months. When the announcement of Taylor's death came across the wire at the same time as the news from Jerusalem, an editor didn't say, "We think the Taylor story is more important. Screw Israel." What he said was, "The Taylor story is already written and ready to go. Post it -- and let's make some calls and find out what the story is in Jerusalem."

(2) Sorry in advance if you find this painful, but a terrorist attack in Jerusalem that doesn't kill too many people is not a big news story in the United States. Bombs go off in places like Pakistan fairly often and the Times hardly ever mentions it. In fact, three rocket attacks and a bomb struck parts of western Pakistan TODAY (this morning Pakistan time) killing 5 people. That story is STILL not on the front page of And on March 9, a suicide bomber killed 37 people in northwestern Pakistan, a day after a car-bomb left more than 20 people dead. Did you know about either of those attacks? I don't recall seeing either of those stories on the Times website. Did you? So instead of asking why the Jerusalem attack wasn't covered more extensively, perhaps you really should be asking why the Times covered it at all.

(3) The Times is not an "if it bleeds it leads" sort of paper. They aren't in the business of providing generic news. They know you can go to USA Today or Washington Post for that. Also, the Times is simply not going to lead their paper or website with an AP story. As I explained by way of analogy, some restaurants will serve store-bought mayonnaise. The Times has to make their own. If they haven't written their own article, they aren't going to give the story top play. (Anecdotal backup: The Times first piece on the Jerusalem attack was four paragraphs long, and relied heavily on Haaretz and the A.P. It was available at about 10 am, but wasn't on the home page. About 35 minutes ago, the Times posted a much longer story, containing some original reporting. This one is on the home page, currently in the #2 spot.)

:: The people who, upon hearing the news of the attack, immediately said something like "Let's see if the world condemns this." What does this even mean? Has the world ever condemned an attack on a Jerusalem bus? Did it condemn the three recent attacks in Pakistan? Is that really the sort of thing the world does? So why would you even expect an international outcry about what happened this morning? Manage your expectations, please.  ...also, whenever I hear someone complain about the world's uneven treatment of Israel, it reminds me of how my kids scream when they perceive an injustice on the part of their parents: "You love him more!" "You never punish him!" "What about what he did?!" Its immature when my kids do this, and its immature when Jews and Israelis do it.

Look: The world isn't a fair place. The world is going to make mistakes. Sometimes, the world is going to behave maliciously and unfairly and treat you badly; sometimes the world is going to make a legitimate choice that you don't like. That's how it goes. Whining doesn't help. ...and you know what? In this case, I'm even willing to concede that its possible "the world" loves the Arabs best. If you want the world to love you more, make the changes the world wants to see. If you're not willing to make the changes, stop expecting the world to love you best. I'm not saying there is anything fair or just about this --there isn't: its completely unfair -- but you can't have it both ways.

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