August 2, 2006

Jews On The Beach


On Sunday, just before I heard about Qana, a reader wrote me about that day’s Reuters photo gallery.

The shots from Lebanon featured scenes of civilians injured or crying for loved ones, along with a picture of a sweet Lebanese school girl drinking from a tap.  The images from Israel, in contrast, featured Haifa bathers and soldiers peacefully sleeping (one in an orchard, the other on a tank), along with one pic of an Israeli convoy passing along a mountain highway.

Those who condemn Israel for it’s health or strength might not see anything curious at all in this shot.  In that case, the message might be that the state can maim and decimate, while for the Israeli, it’s no skin off his back.  (To which the photo editor might say, check the caption.  The beach in Haifa is mostly empty these days.)

But then, is Israel — perhaps, as a religious state — seen as more immoral for its aggression — and, therefore, more indifferent to the suffering of others?  I can’t recall Reuters — during the U.S. attack on Falloujah, for example — featuring Americans enjoying the surf in Miami, or lounging around the pool in the Green Zone.


(Update 1pm:  You can choose to comment on the original post, or not.  I was thinking about deleting it, but I didn’t think that was fair to the commenters — and, perhaps, to the form.)

Every couple of months, I seem to need to step back and take a look at the “larger picture” of what I’m doing.  Because, as a blogger, you have to be “on it” every day, however, it can be awkward when that moment actually presents itself.

Excuse the public instrospection.  (And, please skip it, if you’re not into it.)  Still, I have a few things on my mind.  For instance,  I’m thinking that I can’t really blog (too much) about the Middle East.  I don’t know if it’s because my feelings and viewpoint diverge from my readership, or because I can’t find the proper objectivity.  Along those lines, I’ve also been wondering if The BAG, overall, is just too partisan.  I like reading Abu Aardvark, for instance, where Mark does a wonderful job focusing on “the data” and sidestepping own own opinions.

Finally, I worry about maintaining a consistently high level of quality at this pace.  Earlier this year, I was straining — both energy-wise and confidence-wise — to keep up.  (During that stretch, I made a big effort to locate and bring in some guest writers, but — for various reasons — the process didn’t really pan out.)  In the past few months, however, I’ve really been feeling really strong.

The tricky thing now, though, is that I’m in the process of making a big personal change.  As I mentioned a few posts ago, I’m moving (August 20th) to Spain for a sabbatical.  It’s been a big deal renting the house, closing my office, packing up everything, blah, blah, blah.  The bottom line is that I’ve got a lot of distractions, and — here and there, for the next month — I’m going to be unavoidably disrupted.

Usually, I keep this kind of business to myself.  I mention it, however, because the site has a strong community, a loyal following, and is evolving into a legitimate enterprise.  As such, I’m even more committed (as, I know, you are) to The BAG.  Which brings me back to this entry.

To be frank — this post was really “a push.”  In between the usual chaos, I spent yesterday looking at, and into Mel Gibson.  I started something regarding Castro.  I had three other ideas going relative to Lebanon.  …I hate excuses, so I’m not offering one.  I’m pleased with my image selection and my growing skill in the area of visual semiotics.  I also think I can manage a whole lot at one time — and still deliver.  But, I didn’t with this one.

  Basically, I want to say — both for my benefit and yours — that I might be a little off my game, at points, over the next few weeks.  Or I might miss a day, or, I might rely more on “Your Turns” (both of which, as you’ve already profusely reassured me, is fine).

So, what can I say?  I’m overly conscientious.  …Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.

(hat tip: jl)

(image: Eliana Aponte/Reuters.  July 29, 2006.  Caption: Two Israelis sit at an empty beach in the northern city of Haifa.)

Post By

Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

The Big Picture

Follow us on Instagram (@readingthepictures) and Twitter (@readingthepix), and


A curated collection of pieces related to our most-popular subject matter.


Comments Powered by Disqus