The other day, a politically-minded e-mail correspondent forwarded me an article about ultra-orhodox Jews in Jerusalem trashing busses which held advertisements supporting the right of women to pray at the Wailing Wall. When I stated my people still seemed to have a better-behaved class of religious lunatics than those in it simmediate surround, he suggested my reply lacked ample sense of the gravity of the situation.
The following morning the SF Chronicle devoted the upper third of its third page to the same story. Upon close reading I noted that 50 men were involved (in a city with a population of 800,000)and that no one seemed to have been injured, let alone killed. This led me to wonder why the Chron had featured this story (and, indeed, why my correspondent had felt it worth forwarding). My curiosity was further picqued when I noted that the Chron had given onloy one paragraph to a bombing that had wounded 10 at Cairo University (and another paragraph to the issuance of a report that poverty in the US now placed more children at the risk of death than at any time in the past 20 years)and that it had overlooked, as reported in the dsame day’s NY Times, the killing, also in Jerusalem, of an 8-month old by a reputed Hamas leader or, most relevantly, the Iranian government’s passage of laws to protect individuals who take it upon themselves to enforce societal “norms” at a time when as many as nine women had recently been blinded or disfigured by acid attacks.
Maybe the Chron’s editorial choice of dog-bites-man. In certain societies aberrational behavior is taken for granted and in others it is not. Maybe it’s a matter of seeking “balanced” coverage of the lunacy-riven mid-east by reporting the most unseemly behavior it can find country-by-country. But I wonder if it may not be something more insidious. The sub-text of this article may be “These Jews are just as crazy — and potentially clerically fascistic as anyone.” And this, of course, gives rise to the question, Why should we have anything more to do with them and their troublesome country. Thus some trivial acts of vandalism become red meat at which those already so-inclined will snap.