The LA Times Op-Ed section really must be jinxed. First, the whole Martinez/Grazer fiasco. Today, section editor Nick Goldberg writes a moving piece about his friend, Daniel Pearl, whom he knew in Teheran, 10 years ago. He asks the question so many others have asked:
What would possess an American Jew to go to an after-hours meeting in Karachi, Pakistan, with an obviously hostile and possibly dangerous fundamentalist leader?
And, with just the worst timing in the world, answers:
Sure, there were killers and rejectionists and crazies, like the old Shiite mullah I met in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, who told me that that he’d never met a Jew but that if he did, he’d know it instantly and kill him; and the young Jihadi I met in Peshawar, Pakistan, who told me virtually the same thing. We knew that all was not well in the Muslim world, but it felt, somehow, like such people were on the fringes, not in the ascendancy.
Perhaps we were naive. Perhaps I should have taken the old, bearded men more seriously when they said they wanted to kill Jews.
People in London and Glasgow are taking those sentiments very seriously.
Obviously Goldberg couldn’t have known about the attacks when he wrote the piece or fixed the publication date.
Readers expect, unfairly perhaps, that professional journalists have keener instincts and sharper observational skills than the ordinary traveler/tourist, as well as access to more information.
But what good is all that access and skill if the reporter ignores what he’d being told, face-to-face?
How might the world be different if more journalists, 10 years ago, had not consigned the threats of “old bearded men” to the fringes of the Muslim world?