Only an Accident” is a very well written New York Times op-ed by a former hose and conveyor belting seller, Bruce MacHart, who describes countless manual labor related accidents he has seen over the years. He then compares the media’s reaction to the Boston Marathon bombing, where four people died and around 200 were injured last Monday, to a “fertilizer plant explosion in a small town called West [that] left more than a dozen dead and around 200 injured” in Texas two days later:

In the first hours after the fertilizer plant explosion, many commenters had wondered about the likelihood of foul play or terrorism. But once it was deemed an industrial accident, the hysterical coverage tapered off. We had nothing to fear from West; we could stop paying attention.

We tend to discount that which is accidental as somehow less tragic, less interesting, less newsworthy than the mayhem of agency. Lives have been “lost” in Texas, but in Boston, by God — lives have been “taken.”

Boston Marathon: Photo from

Texas fertilizer plant explosion: Photo from Christian Science Monitor

Earlier in the piece, he cryptically describes the sense of the word “lost” in labor-related accidents:

Then there was the grisly story of the debarking drum, which is effectively a giant, spinning, kilnlike pipe into which one puts logs to strip them of their bark. Imagine a machine violent enough to tumble logs clean. Now imagine that machine loaded with a grown man. Who knows how such mistakes are made, but, so the story goes, he was still inside when the machine turned on. He was lost.

I often came back to that word — lost. It implies a certain negligence, a certain culpability, but it also suggests that what is lost might be found again. In those days, I routinely called on manufacturing facilities and mines and sawmills and petrochemical plants, and on company marquees all over town was the following phrase: “___ days since the last L.T.A.” L.T.A. stands for “lost time accident,” meaning an accident that caused an injured employee to miss future “time” at work.

He concludes that the loss of human life, no matter how it was lost, should be valued equally:

But this distinction means nothing to the victims or, I imagine, to their families. In Boston, in West, whether by sinister design or by accident, whether on a television-ready stage or hidden away in a rural factory, when people are hurt, when lives are lost, the essential human cost shouldn’t be lost on the living.

I think this is a beautiful piece that shows the media’s bias towards terror-related violence. But one crucial aspect that I don’t think MacHart touches upon is why viewers can identify with terror-related accidents more than labor ones. Especially in the United States, fewer and fewer people are working in manufacturing jobs. However, everyone can be the victim of a terror attack. I think this plays into the fear, that anyone can be affected.

He highlights the media’s ability to diagnose “the mayhem of agency” and “sinister design” behind terrorism rather than “by accident,” and explains this as the reason behind the media’s increased coverage of the Boston Marathon in comparison to the Texas fertilizer plant explosion. On the other hand, I also believe the media does this because they know that viewers will identify with acts of terror more than accidents.

What do you think?

Rating: Shit is complicated.

Rating the news


A lot of friends and readers have wanted to hear more of my opinions. For example, my most popular post on Facebook last year was a status I wrote right after Operation Pillar of Defense began.

“Several friends and family have been reading about the recent military conflict between Israel and Gaza and wanted to know if my friends and I are okay. Thankfully, so far, the answer is yes. I appreciate your thoughts and concerns. In the next day or so, I’m going to write as objective a post as I can write about the history of this conflict and what’s currently going on. Sending my love and hopes for peace.”

I unfortunately never got around to writing the post because I experienced so many things during the conflict that it was hard for me to articulate all of my thoughts in a timely enough manner. Sorry Facebook friends.

So, I’m trying to devise ways to share more of my opinions about current events without needing the time nor energy to create well-formulated posts. I’d also like to do this in a way that’s insightful for the reader versus just fluff.

Rating the news

Because I’m a journalist, I’m reading news ALL the time. I often have a gut reaction about a piece, whether that’s positive or negative.

Now, I’m going to post articles I read and categorize them in 1 of 3 ways:

1) Stuff that makes me mad

2) Stuff that makes me happy

3) Sh*t is complicated

Because news in Israel is often so complicated, I may end up double-categorizing many pieces. But still, I think this will help me share current issues that are important as well as my take on things.

If you have other suggestions for how I should rate news, let me know!

Last, a fun GIF to top things off, :).

thumbs up and down


Starting a new Haifa beat


As some of you know, I have started to write about the Haifa area. I can do this now that I am working from home and have the 4 hours of my day back that I used to spend commuting. Yipee.

Here is my first piece, titled, “The allure of the city by the bay,” which I published in the Jerusalem Post‘s weekly metro section. It’s their top story this week!

Screenshot on Metro's page, Monday, March 11:

Screenshot on Metro’s page, Monday, March 11:


If you have ideas for pieces I can write about Haifa, the North, or about whatever, let me know. I’m looking to develop my portfolio considerably, so any ideas would be appreciated.

Without further ado, here’s the piece, texted below so that you can read it beyond the paywall (sshh).


The allure of the city by the bay

A small immigrant shift is taking place in Haifa. What does the city have to offer Anglos that other urban areas do not?


Haifa: The German Colony Quarter
Photo by: Itamar Grinberg

Many would say it is hard to find English-speakers in Haifa – that although one can hear English spoken occasionally in public, it does not happen often. So it may come as a surprise that there are over 700 members of the “Haifa Young English Speakers” Facebook group.

At an HYES pub night recently – an event held once or twice a month – several dozen people crowded into the dimly lit, cozy student bar and restaurant Nola Socks, located near the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. It was a diverse and well educated group. Many studied at the Technion.

Several were postdoctoral students. Quite a few were new immigrants, only one or two of whom wore kippot, though there were some Israelis there as well.

According to statistics from Nefesh B’Nefesh, there is an immigrant shift taking place: More Anglos are coming to Haifa. Since 2008, the number of North American and British immigrants who have moved to the northern city has tripled. In the same period, the number of olim from those countries has not even doubled.

However, this movement is small. According to Smadar Stoller Porat, the city’s project director of immigration for olim from English-speaking countries, the total number of English-speaking olim living in Haifa is around 2,600.

What is Haifa starting to offer Anglos that other urban areas cannot? Put simply, it’s cheap and beautiful.

Rental apartments cost around half what they do in Tel Aviv, and unlike in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, many apartments in Haifa have views. If you want a San Francisco-like view from your apartment and a more affordable quality of life, Haifa delivers.

MOLLY MULLIGAN, a 30-year-old American postdoctoral student in biomedical engineering at the Technion, is HYES’s social activities coordinator.

Raised Christian but now secular, she came to Israel because a doctoral mentor urged her to work with his colleague at the Technion. Asked if she plans to stay in Israel after her postdoc is done, she says she wants to if she can.

“I would like to stay, but I have to see if I can get a work visa. The level of work being done at the Technion and the companies I’ve had interactions with is just very high,” she says.

Aside from sometimes being mistaken for a Russian, Mulligan barely mentions encountering any difficulties.

In contrast, Diana Polansky, who made aliya five months ago from New York, seems less certain she will stay in Haifa. The 33-year-old Polansky says she doesn’t know if she was sold the truth about the city as an ideal launching pad.

“It’s hard to survive here. People come to Haifa for the lower cost of living, but then can’t find a job,” she says. “You’re not saving anyone any money if you can’t work.”

Indeed, this is the key reason Haifa is cheap: Beyond the Technion, the University of Haifa and the hi-tech industry there are fewer lucrative job opportunities than in the Center.

And even though Kevin Mayer – a 33-year-old Australian immigrant to Haifa – is an engineer, he thinks he will probably move to the Center of the country. “I’m looking both in the Center and in Haifa.

A lot more jobs in engineering are in the Center, so I’m more likely to be in the Center.”

FOR THOSE newcomers unanchored by institutions like the Technion, the critical support they need to stay in the city seems to be a partner. Tellingly, Stoller Porat asserts that “Haifa is great for young families and young couples who want a good quality of life that’s not too difficult.”

She has less to say about what benefits the city may have for singles.

This family-friendly atmosphere was one of the factors that motivated 39-year-old Josh Turner, his wife, Revital, and their two children to make aliya a little over two years ago from Canada to Kiryat Bialik, a short drive away from Haifa.

The Turners’ greatest challenge in moving to Kiryat Bialik was finding work, as it is for most olim. But “I got around that by starting my own business,” says Josh. “I do international PR for companies. I’m a bigger fish in a small pond in the North, as opposed to a small fish in a big pond in the Center.”

He says he appreciates what the area has to offer and thinks it’s a pleasant, affordable place to raise a family.

Australian immigrant Tanya Ford, meanwhile, lived in Tel Aviv for more than four years before recently moving to Haifa to live with her Israeli boyfriend, and she feels there have been many benefits to the move.

“It’s a lot cheaper than living in Tel Aviv in terms of rent. In my field, which is engineering, there is a lot of work available here. And it’s beautiful – it reminds me of Sydney,” she says.

However, she cannot see Haifa becoming a hub for new immigrants, as there simply aren’t the numbers for it.

“Anglos and olim are attracted to places where there’s a bunch of olim,” she points out. “Haifa isn’t an ideal starting point for olim, but I think it offers a lot to people who are more settled down and established in the country. I think it was a really good move at this point in my aliya life.”

Annette Cohen, a religious woman who made aliya from the US in the early 1960s and has lived in Haifa ever since, sums up what is good about Haifa for Anglos: more interaction with Israelis and with nature.

“Haifa is good for people not interested in living in an English-speaking community,” she says. “And after all these years, I still stop to stare at the view.”

Mom visited Israel during Gilad Shalit’s return

If it weren’t enough that my Mom visited me for the first time in Israel, she was also here when Gilad Shalit came back to Israel! Her insights as an outsider were very interesting. Read my new Jpost post to see the full story!

Gilad Shalit on the phone with his mother just after being released; Courtesy of Israel Defense Forces