A friend, a cause, a tragedy….

We take the fragility of life per granted.

It’s not until we get a wake-up call do we realize just how lucky we are.  For the second time this year, I’ve had a friend die way too soon.  The first was a colleague and friend who died of cancer at 35.

The second was someone I got to know through mutual interest in an organization.  He was 30 and died suddenly.  Let’s just leave it at that.

When someone that young suddenly dies, people wonder.  Was he sick?  Was it an accident? Was he depressed?  And then the associations begin.

Ari was the son of Irv Rubin who replaced Meir Kahane as head of the Jewish Defense League after Rabbi Kahane was murdered in 1990.  Rubin was murder in jail in 2002 while awaiting trial.  So pundits have it all figured out – Ari died young because of his family connection to the JDL.  Of course, they overlook the fact that Ari’s mom took over after Irv Rubin died, which means it’s another theory shot to hell.  Ari shared his parents’ passion for the JDL – but to the extreme that was once the trademark of the organization.

But that didn’t matter to some people because no one, it seems, can die without some baggage.  If a young man is killed in Englewood, it’s expected, because, after all, that’s what you expect down there.  If a young man is killed in Wilmette, it’s a shock and a tragedy.  It’s simply a case of death by association.

In Ari’s case, it’s not known lead to his untimely death.  Tom Tugend, reporter, at least an alleged reporter, for a Jewish newspaper in Los Angeles says Ari’s death was just another violent death associated with the JDL.

JDL had nothing to do with Ari’s death.  The reporter goes out of his way to find people to speak against the JDL, including Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti Defamation League who did not even extend sympathies – just ridicule for the JDL.

The JDL’s history is not one sit coms are made of, but neither are many other organizations whose leaders have met with a violent death.  But much like we want to avoid guilt by association, so too should people, especially apparently biased members of the media like Tugend, in reporting sudden deaths.

If a liquor salesman dies in a car crash, are we to assume it was due to drunken driving?  Some people would want you to think so.

It’s just a matter of getting the facts and not speculation.

In Ari’s case, what was off target was what people thought lead to his untimely death. Their speculation was off target. What was not off target was his passion.

But that does not seem to matter to some people.

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