Joel Orr's Radio Weblog

Down with roadblocks--except when the sniper is in my backyard


Geraldo Rivera is a jerk. Why Fox is using him is beyond me. Perhaps someone should let Fox know Mr. Rivera has been inconsistent with his roadblock complaints, depending on whose lives were at stake. But he's not the only one. " It's different when it's in YOUR neighbourhood...." the listmember who forwarded this excellent article to me wrote. I agree.

Naomi Ragen

A View of the Absurd
Op Ed Column
By Jack Engelhard (For week of 10/21/02 or 10/28/02)

The Beltway Is Israel All Over Again

Some time back Geraldo Rivera was standing somewhere in Israel after a homicide bombing complaining about roadblocks. Geraldo was not at all happy - and this was about the same time when he called himself a lover of the Palestinian cause, or something along those lines. No, Geraldo wasn't happy. What he said was that these Israeli roadblocks were the cause of Arab "anger."

Not much was said about Jewish anger, or about the need for these roadblocks, coming, as they always do, after a Palestinian murderer slips in and kills as many Israelis as he can. Also, not much space was given to Israeli spokesmen, who tried to explain that if there were no terrorism, there'd be no roadblocks.

That was before, this is now.

Now we're in the United States, but it may as well be Israel. A killer is on the loose. Cut to Geraldo at a gas station outside of Washington, D.C. where the latest shooting just took place. A sniper has been killing people in and around the Beltway, and it's like a war zone, and sure enough Geraldo is all dressed up in his war zone fatigues.

His face is grim, and his tone is full of high drama, and he is not happy. He is sad about the victims and he is sad that there's no clue about the sniper. But he is not complaining about the roadblocks, which have been set up all along the highway. Cars are being stopped, many at gunpoint. Traffic snarls.

Back in Israel, Geraldo complained mightily about being held up in traffic. Those roadblocks. He was so inconvenienced. This time, it's okay. Roadblocks are okay. This time it's his neighborhood that's being terrorized. This time it's his ox that's being gored. So roadblocks are okay. No word about the inconvenience. No word about anyone being angry. No, it's logical. A killer is on the loose, so all measures to stop him, find him, are acceptable.

But why pick on Geraldo?

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of journalists work and live in and around the Beltway. Many of them cover the Middle East, and many of them, like Geraldo, have been complaining about those Israeli roadblocks. Going back to the height of the Intifada, months ago, one MSNBC correspondent in particular kept reminding his viewers how inconvenienced he was, how long it took him to get from here to Yasir Arafat's compound.

Terrible, these roadblocks.

A few days later, one roadblock to Jenin was lifted, and 22 Israelis were killed on a bus from a sniper who had slipped out of Jenin. (The weeping bus driver asked: "Where were the roadblocks?")

This journalist (whose name slips my mind) is now on TV, reporting from the Beltway, where another attack has taken place -- all of it, the whole scene, so strikingly similar to Israel -- but nothing about the roadblocks. Same for all the rest of them, in whose neighborhood all this is going on, not a word of complaint, since, after all, this is their place, where they keep home...wives, husbands and kids. Spare no effort, do anything, roadblocks, whatever -- just stop the killer! To hell with being inconvenienced, and to hell with anyone being "angry."

Surely no one sees the irony, that here in our own backyard it's deja vu all over again, rather, it's Israel all over again -- and look who's hiding now! We're all in a funk, we live in fear, the entire nation, especially those around the Beltway. We're afraid to go shopping, buy gas, attend ball games, or send our kids to school.

Do we now understand what it's like -- and what it's been like -- in Israel?

Do we now understood that terrorism is terrorism -- with no need of a root cause?

Do we now understand that hatred is hatred and that it is not something that we did or didn't do? The tragedy of 9/11 was different. Terrible as it was, it was a one-time event, enough for us to be careful, but not enough to give us the jitters every waking minute. But that's how it is today in America, and that's how it is every day in Israel. They don't know where the next outrage is coming from, and neither do we.

Perhaps next time they're covering the Middle East, our American Beltway journalists will understand that Israel is also a neighborhood trying to keep itself safe...and so sorry for the inconvenience.

Jack Engelhard is the author of the international bestseller "Indecent Proposal" and is a former radio and newspaper editor covering the Mideast and former American volunteer in the Israeli Defense Forces. His columns can be read online at and he can be reached at

Naomi Ragen
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Last update: 10/24/02; 10:35:41 AM.