Asaf Bartov (ijon) wrote,
Asaf Bartov

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What it means

I am suddenly consumed by a desire to explain to my foreign readers just exactly what a terror bombing means to me today:

Some time around one o'clock today, there was a terror bombing in a cafeteria in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (HUJI). I was out at lunch at the time. At some point, one of my partners for lunch turned on a nearby television set. He selected a cable channel, where "Whose Line Is It Anyway" was playing. I heard of the bombing because someone next to me was informed by phone, by someone who was watching television. We resumed our lunch. Someone suggested that we switch to the news channel. We did. A schematic map of Jerusalem was on-screen, with a blast icon on the HUJI location. They were relaying a phone call with a reporter who was still on his way to the site. We switched back to the comedy show. The news channel will only feed us with filler for now, anyhow, and no names of casualties or wounded victims are known at that point.

We finished our lunch. I returned to the office, and used instant-messaging and e-mail to catch up on the people I know who go to HUJI. All of them but one are known to be alive and well. I didn't bother to check Ha'aretz or any other online news source. There's nothing interesting to be known about this; what could I possibly be shown or told? Pictures of the wreckage? Interviews with shaken witnesses? Interviews with grim policemen? Stretchers with body-bags? I've been gorged with those.

So I'm moving on. I still hope to hear some news from the one friend I haven't heard from yet, but I'm moving on. Now that I've more or less ascertained that I won't be attending any funerals or hospital beds, this bombing is already history for me. Perhaps there are still wounded victims lying out there on the university curb. But what's the point of watching the stretchers being loaded? What's the point of consuming the statistics of this event? More wounded, more dead. I don't know how many. I could check, it's a click away in all Israeli news sites. But I'm not. Suppose the number of the dead is three. Suppose it is seven. Suppose it is twenty-four. What of that?

And so, unsure of the time, of the exact location, of the number of people genuinely hurt in this event, the number of people whose lives are dreadfully altered today, unsure of the status of at least one friend of mine (wait! This instant, as I write this, I'm reminded of another friend in HUJI -- make that two friends whose status is unknown, then), I resume my work on some software packaging problem. Most likely, I won't bother to watch the evening news when I get home. The news won't tell me anything important, anything new.

It is not that I am utterly indifferent to the death of innocent people. I'm not. I do hurt for them, and I hurt for my country, and my society. But hey, how is this terror bombing different from the two (or were there more? I'm not sure!) other ones that were perpetrated this week? And the ones before it? How can I live in a constant state of shock? I can't. I am now immune. I move on.

So it has come to this. I wanted you to know.

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