If there was one question that I would say characterised the overall response to our planned return to Israel, particularly from my non-Jewish friends and colleagues, it was “Isn’t it dangerous there?”
“You mean more dangerous than driving an ambulance, lights-and-sirens, through red lights, along the wrong side of the road and across busy junctions in London? Or more dangerous than walking into a house and expecting an overdosed junkie, but finding yourself at the wrong end of a machete? Dangerous? Don’t make me laugh!”
Danger is a funny concept. I don’t wake up every morning and quake in my boots (or sandals for that matter – it’s too hot for boots) at the thought that Mahmoud “I’m-Mad-In-The-Head” Ahmedinejad may choose today to remember the combination to the missiles that he regularly likes to remind us that he holds over our heads.
I don’t scour the streets every morning searching for suspicious packages or people, although I’m alert to the possibility.
I don’t have sleepless nights due to an ongoing, paralysing fear that I live in a war-zone, although I’m aware of the friendly nature of our neighbours.
I don’t walk around all day making sure that I know where each and every public bomb shelter is. The thing is, however, that I know people who do.
Over the weekend and even into today, over 150 missiles and mortar shells have rained down into the area, fired by Hamas and their cohorts. Not that the news outside of Israel has bothered to report it particularly. BBC, my favourite source for unbalanced reporting, has strangely stayed silent on the matter since the weekend, leaving their three day old headline on this matter as “Israeli air strikes on Gaza ‘leave two dead'” and failing to update their information of “more than 20 rockets have been fired into southern Israel.” Although, I guess, factually speaking they’re correct. It is more than 20, they just don’t bother to mention how many more.
Death sells. It sells newspapers, it makes the news. Two dead Palestinians make for a good headline. An injured Israeli doesn’t. The vital information missing is that those headline makers were terrorists, directly targeted for their involvement in attacking Israel. The injured Israeli was just a citizen going about their daily life.
As an aside, the low cost in human life is greatly due to the fact that the Iron Dome system has fulfilled its purpose, much to the probable disappointment of Hamas.
Some one-sixth of Israel’s population is within range of Hamas and their randomly-fired arsenal. As a comparison, that’s the equivalent of the entire population of London and then some, relative to the UK population, coming under regular shelling. Doesn’t bear thinking about. Their point-and-shoot technology makes them no less deadly, but a lot more random. Unlike Israel’s targeted missiles, aimed specifically at those who have a direct hand in terror, Hamas fire indiscriminately at major population centres, hoping to inflict as much damage, destruction and death as possible, particularly within the civilian population.
The recent escalation of violence (aka terrorism) seems to be calming down a little. The news will continue to ignore it and concentrate more on President Putin coming to town to talk about Mr I’m-Mad-In-The-Head and what they’re going to do about him. Not a lot is probably the answer to that one.
The BBC will continue to leave the out-of-date headline on their main page until the next cycle of violence begins, assuming, of course, that at least one Palestinian dies in the process and irrespective of the fact of whether he’s a terrorist or not.
Hamas will hold true to their word that they won’t fire any more rockets at Israel, except maybe one or two, here and there, just so we don’t forget about them. Now, we wouldn’t want that, would we?
And in answer to my friends’ question about danger – it’s complicated.
Life in Israel is both tense and laid-back all at once. My children have a freedom here that I could never have allowed them to have in London. There is an alertness among the population, but not fear. There are signs on buses reminding the passengers to check for any suspicious items and a communal sense of responsibility to report anything untoward.
On the whole, life here is just life. Kids go to school, parents go to work, the trains run late, the economy is as much part of the daily talk as the security situation, people deal with their own personal trials, tribulations and phobias (go – it’s well worth a read), people go to the beach and go shopping, and there’s even an “Occupy” movement of sorts. Although that’s a bit of a dicey choice of word around these parts.
Oh, and after the success of the eviction from Gaza, along with the peace it has brought to the hundreds of thousands of Israelis in the south (sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, I know), Jews are kicked out of their houses again. But that’s a story for another day.