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Archive for the ‘Observed’ Category

Jury Duty Duty

Juror 4067

Juror 4067

I prayed for more snow and school closures. Dismayed there were only 2 inches of snow at 11 p.m., I reluctantly set my alarm for 6-ish a.m., knowing I’d snooze it after tuning in to WBAL radio to learn if the City Courts would be closed. My first Jury Duty in Maryland loomed ahead in the morning—a morning after Baltimore suffered an attack of snow.

Handicapped Ramp looking north, uphill, to St. Paul Street

Handicapped Ramp looking north, uphill, to St. Paul Street

Baltimore does not react well to snow. Whether it’s due to being full of Southerners who become panicky at the first flake of the white stuff, or the fact that people are used to driving recklessly (i.e. ”normally”) and get frustrated because icy conditions force them to think twice about passing a right-turning vehicle on the right for a change, driving here after a storm can be fraught with danger and obstacles. Although I thought I’d built in enough travel time to arrive at the Courthouse—after finding the parking garage—by the 8 a.m. call time, I did not factor in how impossibly choked the beautifully plowed I-83 would be at that hour.

Woe, how naïve l am. I’m glad I had a thermos of strong coffee in the car.

"Accessible Entrance on Fayette Street" sign

“Accessible Entrance on Fayette Street” sign

Jury Duty was still ahead of me and I was worn out from the trip! Less than 10 miles from town, it took me the better part of an hour to get to the parking garage. Waze failed finding an alternate route; actually my phone is on its last leg (phone fail imminent!) and kept shutting down mid-calculation. Fortunately I’d looked at the original directions before leaving home so I wasn’t entirely lost. That is, I wasn’t lost until I started heading toward the Courthouse. I pulled up a map, and intrepidly started the trek … only to find myself four blocks northwest of my destination and panicky because it was 8:35. LATE! will I be fined? Jailed? Told to come back another day?

And then the phone battery died. Again. Time for a new phone, for sure.

Drizzle dappled my non-compliant phone screen. Happily a woman told me which way to walk as her son had been on jury duty last week.

Limping due to a sciatica flare up, I found the building and the Fayette Street entrance with a ramp (which the Jury Summons instructed to use; the building’s address is on Calvert Street). The clerk told me to go out, walk up the block and around the corner, to the St. Paul Street entrance.

St. Paul Street Courthouse Entrance

St. Paul Street Courthouse Entrance

A statue of Cecilius Calvert, Baron Baltimore, etc. (see link for entire title), graces the St. Paul Street entranceway. So does a familiar blue Handicapped Entrance sign—at the bottom of a dozen-or-so steps—directing one to the first entrance I’d tried! I pulled myself up the first flight using the cold, wet handrail. My coat’s belt set off the metal detector, but luckily the sandwiches in my bag passed. I muddled anyway to the jury assembly room at 8:50. I had arrived!

The Jury Summons had assigned me Reporting Number 4067. Happily, by the time I entered, 4000 through 4100 had been invited to line up, check in, and get paid. $15 will cover the parking and the $1.50 diet Pepsi I bought from the machine in the Jury Assembly “Quiet Room.” With a bad case of “dead phone-itis,” I whipped out my extra-long phone card and charger I’d thoughtfully packed, found a plug, and settled down. Hmmm, no wi-fi. Sigh. Now that my “duty” had been done, I was ready for Jury Duty.

Or was I, I wondered?


African American Experience

Ida B. Wells. Why had I never heard her name? Born a slave in 1862, Ida was a journalist, early feminist, and anti-lynching activist, as well as one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Her name should have been as familiar to me as Carrie Nation or Susan B. Anthony. But it wasn’t.

Slave Ship reality

Slave ship reality. © JustHavingFun

I visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture (MAAHC) last week and could have spent a few days there. The experience started with a trip through time, in Africa before the slave trade began, illustrating the culture of tribes, nations, and many notable individuals. Then the story changed to the slavers in about the 16th century, displacing entire nations, devastating entire cultures. A darkened room held artifacts from a slave ship.

A nauseating quotation from Alonzo de Sandoval, a Spanish Jesuit priest, covered one wall. As we walked forward in time, attention focused on the introduction of Africans to the Americas and Caribbean and the subsequent development of the slave economy. Exhibit: a huge cauldron in which sugar was boiled and refined. Statistics: life expectancy for a slave working in a sugar plantation was a mere 7 years. Exhibits illustrating slave life—including two actual homes reconstructed in the museum—moved us closer to the modern day. I felt the bleakness of that existence.

I cannot give justice to the numerous exhibits surrounding the Abolitionists, the Civil War, and Reconstruction and its aftermath. The exhibits shone light on the formation of negative attitudes toward Blacks, and the spread of virulent prejudice against former slaves and their offspring.

Stereotypes: Sambo and Mammy

Stereotypes: Sambo and Mammy. © JustHavingFun

The Jim Crow laws developed as a direct result of these attitudes. If a person of African Descent was not viewed as a human, then why would someone care to treat them as such? I reacted strongly, sickened to my stomach, at the exhibits depicting our nation’s shame. I was especially tormented by the exhibits on segregation. My stomach churned. I grew up in the North where no overt, institutionalized de jure aspects of segregation met my view. I realize that as a child I was not attuned to the de facto social and institutionally segregated segments of society. School integration proceeded calmly at my elementary school in the late 1960s, although there were race riots at my mostly-white high school in the early 1970s. However, enforced segregation didn’t touch me directly. I had friends of color, but we didn’t discuss those matters.

It’s easy to think that everyone had the same experience as me. The museum exhibits showed me tangible evidence that this is not so. I have friends who grew up in Baltimore, and remember seeing signs enforcing separation of the races. That occurred within my lifetime? How can that be? Man’s inhumanity to man stuns me.

I cried after peering at the open coffin of Emmett Till, a solemn line of people passing by it. My stomach clenched as I read the account of his murder. In 1955 this 14-year old Chicago boy who was visiting relatives in Mississippi sustained a brutal beating and mutilation, was shot in the head and sunk in the river—likely because a white woman lied about him making a pass at her. An all-white jury acquitted the murderers. (She recanted her story recently, as told in “The Blood of Emmett Till,” by historian Timothy B. Tyson.) The Jim Crow laws set the stage for this heinous crime. My head swam. This occurred a scant few years before my birth!

The United States prospered upon the backs of immigrants. Some, like my grandparents, were willing newcomers, escaping persecution and dreaming of freedoms and prosperity they lacked in their homelands. Another immigrant group, however, had no choice in coming to America: enslaved Africans, who served as the engines of the Southern economy. Although slavery was abolished in 1865, the residual effects of this grim institution last until today. We live in a color-conscious society where sadly and shamefully, people are not judged solely upon the basis of their works and deeds.

“We were slaves in Egypt,” Jews recite every year at the Passover holiday, and “in each generation each person is obligated to see himself as though he personally came forth from Egypt.” We Jews remember our enslavement—and G-d’s mercy in redeeming us—every day. We were persecuted and murdered. In regard to the Holocaust, we intone, “Never forget. Never again.”

In our country, in our day, another situation must be remembered and not repeated. Museums such as the MAAHC provide vital tools for remembering the heartache and shame of the past. They bear witness and educate. They too intone, “Never forget. Never again.” I want to say that the story the museum illustrated had a shining happy ending, but it didn’t. The exhibits closer to today’s time, after the Civil Rights Act, showed advances in opportunity for African Americans and “normalization” of people of color in our society. I want to say the story has a happy ending, but there is no end to history. That’s why we must continue to learn, strive for equality, and squash hatred born of ignorance.

I won’t forget Ida nor Emmett.


New Beginning

Last month I started a new career. Finally after a long time searching, I became another full-time busy bee in our economy. I am so very grateful. G-d is putting me in a place where I can help others and strengthen our community. I will have a chance to make a difference in peoples’ lives. And I work with some swell people.

Monarch Butterfly on Zinnia.

Monarch Butterfly on Zinnia. © JustHavingFun

I’m feeling rather enlightened. The non-profit agency I work for does way more than I’d imagined. So many dedicated people pour their hearts and souls into the various programs. Their creativity sparkles. Caring blankets their work. People from various backgrounds pull together for one cause: betterment of peoples’ lives. As I pore through the agency’s historical documents and learn about the ongoing and future programs, I’m proud by association. Look what a small group has been able to accomplish and view the future through expansive eyes as more can be helped.

This boon fell upon me as millions of people suffer: Houston’s victims of Hurricane Harvey; Florida, Cuba, and Caribbean islands from Hurricanes Irma & José; wildfires in the western states; an 8.2 magnitude earthquake in Mexico; and daily murders here in our charming Charm City. It would be easy for anyone to sit back and refrain from doing anything in this troubled time. We feel there is little we can do—even sending dollars to help the needy doesn’t feel like enough. Helpless, overwhelmed, and confused, we watch the news as it informs of another catastrophe.

I have an answer to that feeling: Do Something. Not everyone has the good fortune of working in an agency like mine, but that should not be a deterrent. Maybe she can’t help Puerto Rico, but she can volunteer in her community: driving seniors, reading to the blind, stuffing envelopes, knitting for charity. Perhaps he has skills sufficient to tutor children, repair bicycles, or make phone calls.

If everyone took on one “charitable” project, what a world of difference it would make! Just like the butterfly effect, where the proverbial butterfly flaps its wings in one hemisphere and affects weather in the opposite one, our positive acts can effect worldwide changes.

A single positive action from each one of us can change the world. I’m so fortunate that I get to see positive actions accumulating favorable results every day. Talk about new beginnings!



Today I’m focusing on what is possible. We control an amazing force—the potential to do something! In physics, an object’s potential energy relates to its proximity to other objects. How will it act? What will it be capable of doing? What factors act upon it?

Possible Sunflower

Possible Sunflower. © JustHavingFun

As we age, we find ourselves conveyed into increasingly narrow channels. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. We become specialized. Certain decisions will collapse other options. If you turn right, you obviate the choice of turning left. If you choose fish for dinner, you will not have eaten beef. And so on.

Here’s a career choice example. You start school as a blank sheet of paper. Then you take a full slate of classes—biology, art, sociology, and computers—and one will pique your interest more than the others. In college a course in developmental biology seems fascinating. You end up working for a professor who studies chick embryo neural tube development mutations, which leads to your Ph.D. research in genetic defects that cause spina bifida. You didn’t start out to become a research scientist. You simply liked biology class and decided to pursue that area of study. At some point, access to time and resources for delving deeper into art history, organizational hierarchies, or computer natural language development, say, becomes less available. Few people have the wherewithal to pursue a second field with the same verve as their first. Or, they wait until later in life and take it on as a second career—or not at all.

But the potential still exists. Possibilities don’t vanish completely as long as intellectual curiosity propels us forward.

Every choice we make hones us and refines us in ways we can’t imagine. That doesn’t have to make us narrow people. The rhythm by which we live is not a steady, monotonous drumbeat. The rhymes we repeat to ourselves don’t all end with the same syllable. The songs we sing have more than one stanza.

Possibility opens us to different ways of looking at things: a ball of yarn becomes a sweater, a calendar photo becomes a vacation, an appeal for charity becomes a passion. Our personal potential becomes expressed because of the choices we’ve made, the roads we travel down. But the other roads still exist.

Stem cells are plenipotent; they have the capability of becoming any type of cell in the body when they mature. So, too, are humans. We are born plenipotent, able to become any type of person and fit any career, following manifold interests. The beauty of humankind though, is that once we do fit ourselves to some mold, we can branch out. We can explore our possibilities. We can expand our world to include aspects outside of our immediate circle of knowledge. We can let other aspects into our consciousness, work on them, enjoy their possibilities.

The sunflower has no choice but being a sunflower. Its fate is predetermined and set. We, however, can enjoy the variety of knowledge, reflect upon the various possibilities that the world presents us. Just because we research spina bifida doesn’t mean we’re excluded from writing songs. Our rhymes are not squelched; rather, they are enhanced by the bits and pieces that total the world of possibilities.

For today, it is possible for me to break out of my mold, to incorporate various possibilities into my life song.



Hospital Wait

I wish I had my knitting with me.

I’m at a local hospital Emergency Department. My blood sugar has been wonky and I’m out of medication. [While this could become a screed about the state of medical insurance in the United States, I will refrain from explaining how it happens that I cannot get my meds.] I need to see a doc.

Emergency Department

Emergency Department. © JustHavingFun

There are many service units here: Registration, Triage, Laboratory, Urgent care, Intermediate Care, Rapid Evaluation, etc. Monitors on the wall let you know what place you’re in. After my blood was drawn they estimated it would be 3 hours to see a doc. Well, they do need to analyze the samples….

I’m OK waiting. There’s wi-fi, and I have a phone charger so my weak battery problems won’t frustrate me in the absence of my knitting. I’m hungry, though, but they don’t want me to eat or drink. Writing is fine. So is listening to podcasts.

Waiting List

Waiting List. © JustHavingFun

Dang it! Why don’t l take my knitting with me everywhere, every time?

Fortunately I borrowed a phone charger so I don’t have to sit like a lump or watch a half-heard television show I have no interest in watching. Some people are doing nothing at all. How can people do that?

There’s an odd cross-section of humanity here. I am hot, but many patients sit wrapped in blankets. A two-year-old child runs into the Triage area and her father corrals her. She’s laughing now, but was shrieking a little while ago. Someone who looks like an older sister is braiding an African-American girl’s hair. The couple seated next to me pass a phone between them, playing a video game together.

Did I mention I potentially have a 3-hour wait?

I wish I had my knitting with me.

Postscript – Indeed it was a 3-hour wait, but there was also a 3-hour treatment & observation phase! Wouldn’t have been able to knit because an O2 sensor was attached to my index finger. Glad I found the Game Show Network and spent some time with Cash Cab, and Family Feud (oooh, love that Steve Harvey). “Survey says” … I’m tired and need to go to the pharmacy to get my prescription filled.

Can’t Go Back Home

This odd sculpture on the side of an otherwise nondescript apartment building.

“Bacchus/Dionysus” Apartments, Regent Square. © Just Having Fun

Back home. All memories seem bright until you get there:

Pittsburgh, my home, isn’t home anymore. Buildings are shabbier, streets more narrow, stores smaller, pavements more broken up, lawns weedier, properties needier. Store facades lack pizzazz, fashions seem grayer, people walk bent over, and hairstyles belong to the 1980s. Indeed, mullets haven’t died out there, and jagoffs still crowd the Parkway.

I don’t live there anymore. Home livens my dreams, though. I spent so much of my life there; it formed subterranean parts of me. But now I live in another place, sipping another culture, another state of mind.

“Home” speaks my vernacular. Home wears the gown of happy memory. Home sidewalks remember my skinned knees. Home parks have water fountains where I slurped away my thirst. Home benches remember nights I sat there looking across the river at the shining city. Home playgrounds hold my childhood.

Duquesne Incline from Carson Street

Duquesne Incline from Carson Street. Image: Dan Buczynski, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Away: We’re away from the inevitable aging, concrete crumbling, roadways growing potholes. We forget the annoyances of overflowing sewers, flooding, and road closures. Traffic cones move from site to site, an ever present landscape feature, but we lose our way among the newly created maze—new to our minds at least. “Remember where that big pothole was that they didn’t fix for a couple’a years?” We dodged it every time, and now just ride over the smooth street, the pothole a trouble only in the past.

Local politics, local concerns, don’t interest me because I’m not a part of it anymore. The hallmarks of the community, saying “yinz” and wearing shirts emblazoned with Steelers or Pirates logos, color the culture. Familiar local landmarks take on an importance they never shone with when I lived there. Pointing to repurposed buildings we remember aloud, “That’s where Isaly’s used to be;” or looking toward South Side, “J&L used to cover that entire shore of the river, before the Cheesecake Factory.”

Taylor Allderdice High School, Aerial View, circa 1930-1945 approx.

Taylor Allderdice High School, Aerial View, circa 1930-1945 approx. Image: Boston Public Library collection, CC BY-NC/2.0

I can’t go back home. The people aren’t there anymore. The “kids” I hung out with are spread across the map. They’re getting ready for retirement and buying condos in Florida. My high school’s awe-inspiring facade hides behind a blocky addition; my university has new buildings across campus. Downtown features newer, brighter buildings. Even the subway stretches to new distances, under the Allegheny River to the North Side and the stadium.

This is not MY Home anymore, but it is an extension of it—another dimension, say. If I lived there still, I would not notice the changes in the ways I do now. I would be a part of the rerouted traffic, commuting to my job without comment, or grumbing about PennDOT like everyone else. Local problems would not seem so exotic or notable the hundredth time we encountered them.

I can’t go back home, but I can look at it again like a many-faceted jewel—preserved in a museum showcase, or worn proudly on my finger—and see the lights glinting from within.



A potential employer has called me in for an interview. I really want this job. What will I wear? I have a business suit for this purpose, and worn with an understated top, modest jewelry and matching accessories, it is the appropriate uniform for the occasion. I will appear to be a responsible, sober, capable person who takes this job seriously. This is not the time to express my preference for a roomy sleep shirt and bare feet. I know how to make a good impression.

Tattooed guy on the A-train.

Tattooed guy on the A-train. © JustHavingFun

How we are exposed to things creates impressions. The frequency, the popularity, the acceptability seem to grow proportionately. I remember a time when a boy with an earring was a rarity, a rebellious type to be avoided. Now? I’ve seen guys with dangly earrings as well as holes as big as quarters in their lobes. And tattoos? I’d heard stories growing up about crusty, tattooed sailors. It wasn’t considered to be suitable for nice folks. Now they’re all the rage.

First impressions count—it’s not just a worn adage. The subtlety of impressions cannot be emphasized enough. They get worn into our brains, drip by drip, until an impression is formed. Like water on a rock, with time enough, a path can be carved. The Grand Canyon proves this theory.

Impressions are also formed by the media. What we consume as humor and entertainment become realities. Like mouthy, bratty, know-it-all kids. Remember the fantasy of Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show? I can’t imagine Opie being mouthy without consequences. Or Richie on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Nowadays children on sitcoms mouth off and are bratty, and that is considered normal. Not in my house, honey. If my kids had been as fresh as those on TV, they’d have had what to be upset about.

SNL Screenshot

Screenshot. © NBC

What happens when the media steps past a societal boundary, more than just a breach of good taste? Saturday Night Live last week ran a skit that I thought pushed the boundary too hard. Here’s what I sent to NBC as a comment on the show:

DESPICABLE. That’s the “World’s Most Evil Invention” skit from 5/20/17. Child molestation must NEVER be exploited for humor, never mind ironic use. Yes, the behavior is really, really evil, but it’s no laughing matter. When SNL uses child abuse for humorous purposes, it diminishes the horror of the act, the level of sickness it embodies. Child sexual abuse should be verboten, like rape, making fun of handicapped people, or even saying the “N-word.” Push the envelope, but use restraint.

There are certain things we should not joke about or hint at in humorous settings. I draw the line at child sexual abuse. I shudder to think that this evil act can be made as acceptable as tattoos. I don’t think I’m over-reacting. The more people are exposed to things, the more “normal” they seem and the less sensitive they become to those topics. I like to think that we are a society that wants to be good and do right. In order to do that, we need to make the right impression on ourselves. Think about that. How do we do that?

The media have a lot of power. As I’ve said before, whether you love him or revile him, Donald Trump is the President of the United States. Most of the photos I’ve seen of the President show a snarling, warped visage. The camera seems always trained on him mid-grimace. Perhaps if the media were to show him smiling, some of the rancor would diminish.

Likewise, if the media were to treat actions like rape, sexual abuse, sexual trafficking, child molestation, death by gunshot, and other acts of horror seriously and not gloss over them, perhaps there would be more attention paid to the plight of the victims.

Just saying. I’m really worked up about this topic and there is no room for humor about it. There are some things that cannot become commonplace or humorous.

Rack Attack

Sometimes I get an urge to buy clothing. Not often, because it’s hard to recover from sticker shock. I keep thinking that I should just buy the fabric and make the little schmatte for a quarter of the cost–not that I do so. It goes against my grain to consider paying $80 for a simple skirt. Ah, but doers do and critics squawk. I dislike the experience of buying clothes so much so I prefer to kvetch instead.

I was at Target and passed the Women’s clothing section. Normally I wouldn’t even stop, my eyes squinting in the distance for Housewares or Pharmacy, but I was in no rush. Every once in a while I open my wallet under that happy fluorescent retail lighting for items other than toilet paper or cough medicine.

Ironic Rack-Mates

Ironic Rack-Mates, © JustHavingFun

[As an aside: For those of you not familiar with female clothes shopping, “Women’s” sizes are also called plus size. This department is usually smallish and tucked behind the more prominent “Misses” (i.e., so-called normal-sized departments). We’re bigger but our retail footprint is smaller. There are more of us than ever before, too. But it doesn’t make clothes shopping a way happier experience for me. More on size acceptance, body-shaming, and “fatshion” at another time.]

Clearance Sign

Clearance” by Damian Gadal, used under CC BY 2.0

I wound my way toward the back: I saw the clearance racks. No new styles for me, no sir. If it’s not on sale, I don’t even look. Thirty percent off! Seventy percent off! Would I strike gold? Is there a bargain waiting for me? I doubted it but expertly strode to my goal.

What I saw struck me in the oddest way.

The white plastic clothing hangers have beautiful, brightly colored tabs on their tops showing the sizes. (Thank you, Target!) That’s an improvement over other stores and a balm for the shopping experience. I know I can ignore all of the green and fuchsia hangers and zero in on the blue or orange ones, say. At this particular Target store the staff is diligent about hanging the correctly sized clothing on their corresponding hangers. Pleasantly tidy racks greeted me instead of them looking like a typhoon raced through the department. (You’ve been there after women shop hard. Things can go flying!) But that was not the case here. No, something more insidious was happening on the racks.

Somebody didn’t think through how the plus-size shopper would be affected seeing size 00 jeggings and skinny pants adjacent to 4XL blouses! Red alert! Ironic rack attack!

Is it just me? Is it that nobody else notices things like this? When did size double zero become a thing? And finally, what the heck are jeggings?

CBS News Feedback

Sick of Israel-bashing. We must speak up when we see wrong being perpetrated. Language cements ideas in peoples’ minds.

If you repeat a lie enough times, it becomes the truth.
The Big Lie

I sent the following note to CBS News after seeing the referenced article. Borrowing language from D. Lubinsky’s letter and CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America)  analyst Gilead Ini, I was emboldened to add my voice in protest.

I urge all of you to speak up when you see Israel being maligned in the media. Drop by drop water can wear a hole even in impervious stone. It goes both ways.

To CBS News,
RE: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/israel-jewish-settlement-homes-palestinian-west-bank-trump/

The title of the above-referenced article, “Israel okay’s 2,500 new Jewish homes in Palestinian territory,” unfairly labels land in Israel as belonging to Palestinians. This is biased and inflammatory language. The photo illustration shows the city of Maaleh Adumim, and in the caption identifies it as “the West bank Jewish settlement.”

Why do you refer to “Palestinian territory” rather than “disputed land” or even “occupied West Bank”? Why does the CBS News use such distorted terms against Israel and no other country?

There never was a Palestinian state in the West Bank. Jordan controlled that land until 1967 and did not refer to it as “Palestinian territory.”

Biased language that accepts Palestinian territorial claims as fact while ignoring reasonable arguments to the contrary should be avoided by impartial news sources. Journalists are not judges sitting in international courts. It is not for them to unilaterally solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I am ashamed at the lack of objectivity shown by the once august CBS News organization. I hope the article’s title will be edited online to contain less nuanced language.

This type of “reporting” only fans the flames of hate. Be a part of the solution CBS, not the problem.

A copy of this has been sent to CAMERA.

Words can build; words can also create devastation. Let’s be builders rather than destroyers.

Open Letter to NPR

I listen to NPR programming throughout the day and am struck how there has been little mention, if any, of the fires consuming Israel for the past week. Certainly this maelstrom has not been mentioned at the top of the hour news briefs. News about Syria, however, has been reported in that brief time. On the Middle East section of your website, as of this writing on 29 November, the latest story is dated 24 November: “Tens Of Thousands Evacuate As Wildfires Rage In Haifa, Israel” presented on All Things Considered, elapsed time 2 minutes 59 seconds.

The “Fire Intifada” wrecked thousands of lives. A warped, desperate culture of violence spawned this destructive and terrifying activity. NPR apparently chooses to report on Israel only when it can point a critical finger at Israelis. NPR serves as the battlefield for this image war, but NPR chooses the rules.


Beit Meir fires. Photo credit: Jerusalem Post, courtesy of Israel Police.

There have been many more fires since that time. Residents from the small town of Beit Meir, 9 miles from Jerusalem off the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway, were evacuated in the middle of the night. To be fair, apparently a flare fired by Israeli border guard troops set off the fire during while they chased suspicious individuals. But what were those people doing there? Fire engorged the sole entrance of the town.  Over 100 families, and dozens of boys residing at the yeshiva, fled in the pre-dawn hours.

Footage of arson, West Bank. Credit- Israel Nature and Parks Authority.jpg

(Video) Footage of arson, West Bank. Photo credit: Jerusalem Post, Courtesy of Israel Nature and Parks Authority

Indeed, arson is the cause of some of Israel’s fires, the so-called “Arson Intifada.” At least 35 suspects have been arrested on suspicion of arson this past week, and there is video evidence of an arsonist setting fire in the northwestern Etzion region. To date, over 100,000 people have been displaced—innocent civilians—and thousands of homes damaged or destroyed.

Certainly this maelstrom was not mentioned in the top of the hour news briefs. News about Syria was reported in that short time, so it can’t be an issue of NPR not reporting international news. Furthermore, on 27 November, 4 minutes 40 seconds were dedicated to “Abused Animals Find Refuge In A New Sanctuary In Jordan” on All Things Considered. Sheesh!

Indeed today, Israeli troops at a West Bank checkpoint stopped 3 Palestinians who were trying to start a blaze near Ariel in Central Israel. I consider that to be relevant news.

NPR reported on 3 deaths caused by wildfires near Gatlinburg today. I do not mean to diminish the devastation experienced by those people in the least, nor minimize the suffering and loss of the residents, but that tragedy pales in scope compared to what is happening in Israel—except it is US news.

NPR’s Middle East reporting is so unbalanced. NPR seems to only publish news about alleged Israeli aggression against the Palestinians. With this recent rash of fires, NPR had the opportunity to congratulate the many countries that assisted Israel in fighting the fires—including Russia, Turkey, Greece, France, Spain, and the US. That was a true gap in coverage.

NPR get your act together. Report news about Israel fairly, because in the end, you shape public opinion.






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