Police said it was a "terrorist attack" -- Israel's term for a Palestinian strike. It was the first time Jerusalem had been hit by such a bomb since 2004.Jeffrey Goldberg responded with exasperated incredulity: Dear Reuters, you must be kidding. David Harsanyi thought it was a bit more serious.
Most reputable news organizations, for instance, tend to downplay or completely ignore the religious affiliation of man-caused disaster makers. It's unseemly to bring stuff like that up. It only divides us.I don't think it was a simple mistake, though it may have been Freudian. Mostly, it seems to me a result of ideologically induced inability to relate to the world through the prism of factual reality. This is not a new phenomenon, but some people spent the 200 years between the mid 18th century and the mid 20th combating it. Then they gave up, or worse, they replaced rational inquiry with a new religion, one branch of which is called Political Correctness, or whatever it is.
So why did Reuters -- and other news outlets -- identify the bombing as taking place not in an Israeli neighborhood, but in a "Jewish" one? And why is it a "Palestinian" strike and not a Muslim one? Religious affiliation, it seems, is selectively vital information. Jews, you see, are a religious group occupying Jerusalem, and Palestinians are nationalists striving for autonomy in their homeland.
The Economist recently had a weird example of the malaise. Last week they had a review of two new books about Jerusalem. Simon Sebag-Montetiore's Jerusalem: The Biography, which is not out yet in America, and James Carroll's Jerusalem, Jerusalem: How the Ancient City Ignited Our Modern World which came out two weeks ago. I have already read Sebag-Montefiore's book, and will be reviewing it elsewhere; the Carrol one should be in an Amazon box on its way over. The Economist reviewer liked the former, and was a bit put off by the latter, but the reason I'm linking is that the reviewer noted that Sebag-Montefiore ended his tale in 1967, "when Jerusalem was divided between a Palestinian and an Israeli half".
That's right. 1967 is when Jerusalem was divided. I assume the reviewer was knowledgeable on the topic of Jerusalem, and I insist on hoping the Economist uses editors, and that sentence slipped into the paper. Apparently there was then a minor uproar and they corrected their mistake, mentioning the correction at the bottom of the review. Yet it's the Freudian, or ideologically induced, mistake that is so interesting. For the first time in 2000 years the Jews control the city of Jerusalem, yet for some educated reviewers, they don't, or they mustn't, or if they do it's a tear in the fabric of existence, or something.
PS. Since I wont be reviewing Jerusalem A Biography here, (though I'll try to link to my review when it's published), I will say it's a great read, and I hope lots of people read it. Not without its flaws, of course, but worth the time and effort. And also, since there was a discussion about this a few weeks ago here on the blog: According to Sebag-Montefiore, Jews never enjoyed full equality in Jerusalem between the 1st Century CE and the 19th; they came close in the 19th century because European powers forcing their way into town insisted on the equality of their citizens, some of whom happened to be Jews. Arguably, however, they didn't enjoy full equality until after 1948, as the British carefully rigged the municipal electoral system in their years of control so that the Jewish majority of townspeople would never control the municipality, and the mayor was always an Arab. But that part isn't in Sebag-Montefiore's book.