I bet someone — not someone famous, just someone — in your State, town, city or county died a violent death today, or yesterday, or the day before. I bet, too, that the death got local news coverage. But I'm pretty sure that, unless your local decedent lived in Israel or Gaza, that death did not get on the international front pages.
In the Middle East, however, every death is front page news, because deaths aren't about individuals dying, they're about global politics, Left versus Right, Jihadist versus Westener. I thought of this when I clicked on the live bookmark newslink automatically included in the Firefox browser — a bookmark that's tied to the BBC's latest headlines. The seventh story down was about some poor Jordanian schmo who had the bad luck to to die in Gaza:
A Jordanian man has died in clashes between Palestinian security forces and Hamas in Gaza City, reports say.
Witnesses said violence erupted outside the parliament building, with Hamas supporters reported to have fired at least one rocket-propelled grenade.
At least six others were reported injured in the exchange of gunfire.
The clash comes amid high tensions in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas has deployed troops despite the opposition of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
The Jordanian man was named as Khaled Radaida, a driver working for the country's diplomatic mission in Gaza.
Witnesses said the windscreen on his car was hit by three bullets, thought to have been fired from close range.
Did the poor schmo who died in your community yesterday make the BBC international newswire? Was she smeared across the front page of the New York Times? Was he the subject of heated editorials in the LA Times? Is she a statistic in some impassioned Nation article?
There is no such thing as local news in the Middle East. Israel has never been able to focus properly on her internal policies and the external war she's waging because it's been waged, not locally, but throughout the world, with a hostile press constantly weighing in.
Of course, the story above shows that, perhaps, the shoe is slowly drifting over to the other foot. (Please don't struggle too much with that metaphor.) Suddenly, the Palestinians, who always benefitted from the world's obsessive focus on individual deaths, are discovering that same focus turned on them. With a state of their own, their internecine struggles — none of which show them in a pretty light — are front page news, with nary an Israeli aggressor in sight. Perhaps those that lived politically by the press will now start dying politically by the press.
[The photo I used comes from a 2004 post at Little Green Footballs that beautifully illustrates the Press's obsession with deaths in Gaza.]