the 90th minute

Until September 2007, when my oldest daughter was born, this blog covered daily life and politics in Israel, as well as Hebrew-English linguistic issues, from the perspective of an American-raised journalist and translator living in Israel. Now it mostly serves as the SmunchMonk&Bear news agency, a portal into the bizarre universe of the little people. Read more at:

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

9/11: The envy factor

On a recent trip to the United States, I found myself in the New York State Museum in Albany, looking at mementos hanging from a section of the fence that once surrounded the World Trade Center site. It was one element of an exhibit - the museum's most prominent exhibit, in fact - dedicated to the 9/11 attacks.

As I wandered around, taking in the woman who was silently crying her way through the exhibit, I was struck by an unexpected feeling: not sadness or anger, but envy.

Having lived in Israel for five years now, I couldn’t help trying to imagine a similar exhibit here. But I came up against a mental block. I mean, an entire museum exhibit for just one terror attack? It was inconceivable. Any halfway decent terror exhibit would have to include a lot more than that.

I started cataloguing the major ones, starting from when I moved here, about nine months after the second intifada began and three months before 9/11: The Sbarro bombing on the corner of Jaffa and King George streets, in the center of downtown Jerusalem; the bombing of the Moment café, around the corner from the prime minister’s residence; the Park Hotel bombing in Netanya on Seder night (a city I happened to be in that Passover). I knew I was missing many more, but all those terror attacks on Ben Yehuda Street in downtown Jerusalem and various buses in the city, not to mention the bombings in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Haifa, and other parts of the country, kind of blurred together in my memory.

That’s where the envy came in. When 9/11 took place, in the midst of the intifada, Israelis had reason to worry every time they went out for coffee or boarded a bus. Even now, we know the next bombing is just a matter of time. So all this obsession over one terror attack, however dramatic it may have been - it made me kind of wish for the luxury of being able to think of terrorism as embodied in a single event, unique enough to justify enshrinement in a museum.


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