Israeli press talking out of its asteroid?

Julie Wiener

Many a joke has been made about the Jews’ penchant for worrying — surely you’ve heard about the “Start worrying, details to follow” telegram.

Thus it’s not surprising that Israel appears to be the only country where several media outlets reported, wrongly, that a harmless asteroid could end the world. The Times of Israel noted today that several Hebrew-language news sites, including the website for Channel 2, had claimed that there was a significant risk that the 2014-YB35 asteroid scheduled to travel near (by astronomical standards) Earth on Friday, could come crashing down. (The Times of Israel, by the way, did not report the original story.)

The source of the misinformation? A misinterpretation of an article in the British tabloid The Express, which actually said the asteroid at its closest point would be about 2.8 million miles from the Earth. To put the number in perspective, that’s more than 100 times the circumference of the Earth — considerably farther from Israel than, say, Gaza or Iran.

So go ahead, feel free to worry about climate change, terrorism, Middle East upheaval, a potentially nuclear Iran or myriad other legit problems and threats ending the world as we know it. But chill knowing that an asteroid slamming into the Earth isn’t one of them.

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Julie Wiener is JTA’s online editor. Follow her on Twitter @Julie_Wiener