picture of a man holding a burning newspaper

The last few months, any lingering love affair I still had with the news has died a fast death.

I’ve been broadly ‘news-free’ for about 8 years, give or take, and I haven’t missed it all. But with the recent upswing in violence here in Israel, I’ve been reading more news headlines than I have done for years.

Usually, I only check after a bunch of sirens, and thank God, it’s been much quieter in my neck of the woods this week. But I remember logging on to Arutz Sheva two week’s back, the day after the terrible double murder of Aharon Bennett and R Nechemia Lavi in the Old City, and being shocked to my core that they were offering video footage of R Lavi being stabbed to death as the ‘editor’s pick’.

I know, we’re all so used to the ‘bread and circuses’ approach of modern society that we don’t bat an eyelid any more at how voyeuristic, callous and un-Jewish all this ‘viewing’ actually is.

Let me ask you something: how would you feel if your dad, or your husband, or your son, got viciously stabbed to death, and then the next day your friends and neighbours (or worse, your kids’ school-friends) were busy watching it on their i-Phones. How would you feel?

I was pondering that quite a bit the last two weeks, because while the headlines have ebbed, and the families of Aharon Bennett and R Nechemia Lavi have faded back into relative obscurity, the real impact that these real tragedies had on these real people continue.

Even though we watch them on the internet, they aren’t film stars being paid to play the part, just to entertain us and give us something to blog about, and to talk about, and to share on Facebook. They are real human beings.

Let me tell you a little bit about what’s happened to family Lavi, now that things have gone ‘back to normal’. Mrs Lavi was a teacher in my daughter’s school. She’s left her job now, because the family couldn’t bring themselves to move back to their home in the Old City after the shiva, and have now moved to Bet El, to be close to both sets of parents.

Many of the kids have had to move school, as it’s too far to travel back and forwards to Jerusalem every day.

That murder people were gawking at didn’t just kill a beloved abba and husband; it threw 8 people’s lives into complete disarray. The family effectively lost their dad, lost their home, lost their jobs and sources of income, lost their community and lost their whole way of life – all at once.

Of course, that’s not deemed ‘newsworthy’, so you won’t be reading about that any time soon as you scroll through the latest headlines. And that’s why I hate the news, and I hate all the mileage that people are making in the blogosphere out of the ongoing tragedies occurring here, and also elsewhere.

This stuff is not just fodder for more opinion pieces, more speculation, more breathless, excited, giddy posting about the ‘latest’. The impact of the headlines that are so quickly made, shared and forgotten can and does last a lifetime on the people involved.

And if we forget that, and we get caught up in chasing the drama instead of remembering the tragedy, that bodes very badly for us and our collective humanity and caring.

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