"If a tree falls in the forest..." - Lag Ba'Omer and the Israeli Media
If 200,000 Jews show up in Meron to celebrate Lag Ba'Omer, but there is no Israeli media there to cover it, did it really happen?
Yet, based on the Israeli media's coverage of the Meron festival, one gets the impression that a gathering of 200,000 Jews of all backgrounds - the single largest annual Jewish gathering of the entire year - uniting in a celebration of their Jewish heritage, is simply not a story worth writing (or getting excited) about.
Ha'aretz chose to focus their Lag Ba'Omer coverage around a man in Bnei Brak who received serious burns at a Lag Ba'Omer bonfire, only devoting the last paragraph of their article (comprised of a single sentence) to the Meron festival.
Man, 20, seriously burned at Lag Ba’Omer bonfire
A 20-year-old man was seriously burned all over his body Monday after pouring gasoline on a bonfire in Bnei Brak during Lag Ba’Omer festivities.
The man, who attended a religious ceremony of Lag Ba’Omer, was burned when his clothes caught on fire as he poured the flammable substance...
Some 150,000 on Monday attended the celebrations at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Mount Meron in the Galilee, where a large feast is held traditionally.
Medics treat fire burns across country
Emergency services were kept busy overnight Monday - Lag Ba’Omer Eve - treating youth who were injured in bonfires throughout the country and the many attendants of the Shimon Bar Yochai festival at Mount Meron...
MDA teams treated 123 people at the Mount Meron festival. Army Radio reported that twice as many people received medical treatment at the same event in 2005...
An estimated 200,000 people have been reported to participate in the event, with an equal number still expected to arrive. 5,000 policemen were securing the festival, with 100 medics and 10 ambulances present as well.
Lag Ba’Omer: Olmert photos burned
Tens of thousands of bonfires were lit across the country to mark Lag Ba’Omer. Firefighters stood ready to prevent bonfires from spreading out of control... The Ministry of Environment published a list of suggestions to reduce air pollution...
A 20 year-old man was seriously injured after pouring flammable liquid on a fire in Bnei Brak... In Bat Yam a seven year-old boy was injured by a car while on the way to a Lag Ba’Omer bonfire... Extreme right-wing activists burned pictures of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in different areas in Judea and Samaria...
Over 150,000 people marked the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai at Har Meron. The site has attracted ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews for hundreds of years.
Instead, the Israeli media focuses their coverage of Lag Ba'Omer on bonfire injuries and other isolated incidents, as if they were themselves trying to douse the very flames of the revival of the Jewish spirit and Jewish unity that the bonfires of Lag Ba'Omer, particularly those at the Meron festival, seek to kindle within the hearts of the Jewish People throughout Israel.
What a wasted opportunity.