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Monday, May 03, 2004

The Breakfast Table Rule

I know, I know…Yesterday’s entry was quite a bit more political than I usually allow things to get here at treppenwitz. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to keep a blog about life in Israel completely free of politics. So, what I’ve always tried to do is reread all my posts to make sure they adhere to the ‘Breakfast Table Rule’. By this I mean that they shouldn’t contain more political content than I would normally allow my big kids (8 & 10 respectively) to overhear at the breakfast table.

I use the breakfast table as my litmus test (rather than, say, the lunch or dinner table) because at breakfast the senses are fresh. They haven’t been dulled or skewed by a day’s worth of abuse. Think about how much more softly people speak at the breakfast table than at other meals. Consider how much more tentatively subjects are broached at the start of the day than towards the end.

OK. So that’s the rule. Yesterday I got a little worked up and ended up with something maybe more appropriate for ‘brunch’. I’ll try to be more careful in the future.

By way of an apology, I’d like to offer an insight from yesterday that, aside from the context in which it occurred, was actually quite heartwarming.

During the early reporting of yesterday’s tragedy, I listened as a radio interviewer spoke with eyewitnesses to the attack, and several people who knew the victims. As a preamble to many of the questions, the reporter repeatedly reminded the people being interviewed not to use any names or reveal any information that could give away the identities of the victims. It was clear that this was being done to allow authorities time to locate and speak with the family of those killed and injured.

Having grown up in a country where journalists would sell their souls in order to get an on-air first reaction from a grieving relative or a ‘scoop’ concerning a victim’s identity, this was refreshingly humane journalistic conduct.

I have no idea if Israeli law mandates this admirable behavior, or if the close-knit nature of our society has forced Israeli journalists to realize how precariously close they are to the stories they report. Regardless of which it turns out to be, I was relieved beyond words that the relatives and friends of yesterday’s victims were allowed to receive their tragic news from social workers and army officers rather than from a radio loudspeaker.

This is responsible behavior I would want my children to know about and emulate. And, I would gladly discuss it with them at the breakfast table.

Posted by David Bogner on May 3, 2004 | Permalink

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David,

I wish there were more people as sensitive as you, and I'm glad your press corps isn't quite as voracious as ours in the U.S.

We need some bloggers to use the breakfast table rule, because some people blanche at those (like me) who tend to serve steak and potatoes at sunrise. Conversely, I also think there are some messages that cannot be expressed in a breakfast tone.

Nice metaphor!

Posted by: Jim | May 5, 2004 1:38:52 AM

Hi, David. Nice posts. I'm enjoying your blog (especially the one about the lunar eclipse, which I also enjoyed!)

Regarding the victims' names, I think it might be, if not a law, such a hard-and-fast accepted tradition here that it's ingrained. Before making aliyah, I heard about a case where a radio intern was announcing, over the airwaves, that some soldiers had just been killed in a certain area. Unfortunately he forgot to mention the traditional end-line "The family members of victims have all been notified." So the radio station got hundreds of calls from teary parents, begging for the names of the victims, in case their kid was one of them.

Posted by: Sarah | May 9, 2004 5:49:21 AM

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