So it is now the day that I fly back home, back to Israel. I’ve been away since June, working at camp, travelling the US, starting school, celebrating holidays. The year is finally starting.
This summer Israel was lucky, it was quiet. Well, silent in comparison to last summer where there was Operation Protective Edge. The summer where daily soldiers and civilians were being killed. People were spending more time in bomb shelters than out of them. Friends of mine saw combat in Gaza. This summer came and went, with very few things going on.
To be honest it was nice. I had a lot of personal stuff to get through and being out of Israel and not having an added worry to what was happening with my friends and people I’m close to, was really nice. Of course there were things in the news, and obviously all the stuff with Iran, but that part is a norm for living in Israel.
Getting ready for the holiday season, all of sudden that need to be attached to the news came back again. This time there was no warning, no running to bomb shelters. Rather people were randomly getting shot at, rocks were thrown at them, people coming over and stabbing them to death. Over and over that is in the news. Today there was even a potential suicide bomber. Here there is nothing that one can do but pray that they are not in the wrong place at the wrong time. Here there can be no trusting of people around you.
I remember being in Israel in 2003-04, where getting on a bus was done with held breath. You never knew if someone would come on after you and blow themselves up, and you just happen to be blown up too. I remember walking around town 12 years ago and the streets being mostly empty, because people were afraid, there was no knowing.
Something I find interesting this time around is that I am hearing more and more people actually say out loud that they are afraid. I feel like in the past there was this feeling that you couldn’t be afraid, you were Israeli and a lover of Israel so you will go about your business because you don’t care. Here I see friends and others writing about how they are going about their business because they need to, but at the same time walking out their door terrifies them. I know that going back to this makes me afraid. I fear for my walk to work, my walk from friend’s houses on Shabbat, going to the shuk, going to town, going on a bus…I fear for my brother who is serving in the army (and all the other soldiers too). I fear for my friends who work in the old city and must get there every day, even though that has become one of the most dangerous places. I fear that when I read about an attack it will be someone close to me and not so removed.
Last night, I saw on Facebook postings of where to buy pepper spray. I thought to myself that it is much easier to buy it here in the US, so I should try and buy some if I can. It made me think of the day where I waited in the mall for 6 hours to pick up my gas mask, I thought to myself, “wow, I live in a country where I need a gas mask”. And I guess now I have to say, “wow, I live in a country where I am a target for attack at any time, and now I need something to protect myself with.”.
I pray now, like I prayed then- I hope that this thing that I buy, that can protect me, I never have to use. May it always stay full an in my bag.
So I guess this is reality. Sometimes there is quiet, sometimes there is unrest. No matter what I need to go about my business, and for now that means walking the streets of Jerusalem to go to school, work, grocery shopping, seeing friends,etc. And yes, I am afraid, but with that fear I hope to be able to still do what I need and want.
I pray that times of calm come quickly. May this year and (soon to be) new month, be filled with happiness, hope, love, compassion, and peace.