Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I have never had so many interesting, wise, and thought-provoking e-mails in reaction to a post. I am so relieved.

I was not trying to tell anyone off. I was talking about the quality of public discussion in America, as reflected in blogs, now that the pain is not as sharp, now that Americans, who were not directly involved, have finished their mourning and are ripe for moving on.

This may be strange for you to hear, but my local equivalent of 9/11 is not suicide bombings. It’s not even the Park Hotel. We’ve always had terrorism here. I grew up with it. The difference now is the level of the threat, not the essence.

No, for some strange reason, although it is maybe wrong to make such a comparison and you have to remember that I'm talking about deep personal feelings here, and (mainly) about how we deal with loss, my equivalent of 9/11, as that one national occurrence that rocked my being and deeply changed my life, was the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

Although there are great differences, I feel there is some, slight similarity between this event and 9/11 that is worth mentioning. Like 9/11 it had a deep effect on the national psyche in Israel. And like 9/11, there were, and continue to be, deep disagreements in Israel about its meaning, and what’s to be done about it. Maybe this is why I felt so uneasy with bloggers’ reactions to 9/11 this year, or rather the lack of them.

I cried for a week when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. I cried on the first anniversary, and on the second, and on the third. Then I didn’t cry any more.

I’d finished mourning. And the commemoration of the day started to seem stale, insincere, even more so after Oslo finally collapsed altogether, in September 2000. Now the annual memorial of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in Israel has become the property of a certain political faction in Israel. It leaves me cold. No, it leaves me angry.

But it’s completely different, because this was something we did to ourselves. It wasn’t the work of a common enemy that we have to decide how to deal with.

When I started blogging in June 2002, 9/11 was still very fresh in the minds of people. It was part of blogging. It wasn’t the details, or the sadness of the loss. There was this spirit that bloggers seemed to have, this strength. On Saturday I found myself wondering if it had really worn down so soon.

I wasn’t trying to tell anyone off for not writing about 9/11, I know a lot of people did, and there were some excellent columns in some of the papers. And there was really nothing wrong with not writing anything at all.

My feeling was that the time was ripe to move on from reliving the day, the details, the pain felt. I didn’t mean moving on into forgetting, or ignoring, or discarding it like clothes we have outgrown. I meant using it, somehow, as a springboard for mature reflection, discussion. It worried me that this didn’t seem to be happening.

The authors of the e-mails I received discussed why they thought this was, each in a particular way, offering me some different perspectives. I’ve been wondering which of them to reproduce here, but I can’t decide. I will just summarize by saying that it seems that reflection is happening, and I shouldn’t be worried.

You’ll excuse me if I do anyway (worry that is).