Tuesday, November 16, 2004

It's late and i'm tired and i should be asleep (long day, but W's email surely cheered me up)...and now i've come across this article...

read it? now it's not something that new. a "lot" of papers have been printing this story. not giving it the attention it deserves though...still, i just want to point something out that i imagine most of us would normally just gloss over or mutter a "damn" under our breaths...it's this little bit:

"Just six metres away on the same street lay the decomposing corpse of a blonde-haired white woman, too disfigured for swift identification but presumed to be the body of one of the many foreign hostages kidnapped by the rebels.
It was initially thought to be either the body of Margaret Hassan, the Dublin-born aid worker with dual British and Iraqi nationality who was kidnapped last month, or a Polish woman kidnapped two weeks ago. A Polish official said today there was no evidence to suggest that the body was that of the kidnapped Pole."

can we just stop for a second. this is a human being. it's clearly one of either of these two women, and now both of their families have to live in worse fear and grief than they've already lived with. why on earth would they report this? what value does this hold? would it make a difference if they waited until the body was identified and the family was informed? i'm sure it would make a hell of a difference to the family.

really, beyond all else wrong with the media, beyond the simpering partisanship, the lies and forgeries, the feigned objectivity, the political motivation, there is this. the utter lack of humanity. the absence of decency and dignity and respect for human life. if it bleeds it leads. do we have to wait until it's the publishers family member found dismembered, rotting in the middle of a street for the media to realize their behavior? no, i dont think even that would make a difference. it's all about the story. getting it first or getting it like everyone else. after all, if one paper puts it in, they all have to put it in. and the lesson the journalists take from all this? go find that mutilated corpse first...go find that story first...because they're not people, they're stories.

so how does this affect me? well, i'll let you in on a little insight. looking for housing for my month in london i've looked at all kinds of places. one is a very nice little student housing organization. seem very decent and polite. during the exchange of emails one of the questions they asked me was what my nationality was, so as to find the most suitable match for me (they stick me with a family, seems like a nice time)...but i have to sit there for 15 minutes deciding if to put down American or American/Israeli. Because i can hide the Israeli part if i have to. i did it travelling in jordan and there's no way anyone can tell the difference. But this is england we're talking about, not Jordan. but considering the worldly impression of Israel and Israeli's in the past few years (decades, if we're going to be honest, although it's been much worse recently), i have to actually wonder if i can be honest about who i am. why? because when i tell someone i'm israeli it's not unusual to be looked at the way a person looks at a television. i appear two-dimensional. i'm not real. i'm a part of the story, i'm as real to that person as a mutilated corpse rotting on a fallujah street. think i'm exaggerating? then you dont know about my email exchanges with Prof. Wilkie over at Oxford. You might know him as the guy who denied an Israeli Ph.D. student acceptance because he would "never work with an Israeli." Wilkie doesnt see Israeli's as individuals, as people, any more than he sees Iraqi's as people (perhaps he's changed since we spoke, but somehow i doubt it).

The difference between sympathy and hatred, and empathy and love is that the latter require you to see people as individuals, the former demand you see them as a reflection.


Blogger Brian H said...

So, what was your decision? Are you A or A/I (=I to the Brits) now? Please update us later on the consequences of your self-labelling.

Did you consider refusing to answer the question on the grounds that you consider yourself a universalist, who hates pigeon-holing? ;)

November 16, 2004 at 9:05 PM  
Blogger ~d~ said...

i went with a/i...considering that the chances of having questions asked about me and the basic facts coming out are pretty much 100% unless i was put with people that had no interest in speaking to me ever. i'd rather it be known up front than have find out nasty things later.

November 16, 2004 at 11:04 PM  
Blogger Brian H said...

Gutsy! And what have the consequences been? Do people treat you as a pariah? Given the current attitude of the press and much of the populace Over There, I can't actually imagine a less favoured combo of nationalities than American & Israeli!

November 19, 2004 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger ~d~ said...

no consequences to know of so far, we'll see how it is once i'm there. i'd like to imagine it's a bit better than the rest of europe in this sense.

November 19, 2004 at 11:02 AM  

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