So, my Whatsapp is flying off the hook. Everyone here is getting a text message asking if they’re okay. And now my news app just pushed the confirming headline. Yup – it’s another terror attack. This time, it’s in my neck of the woods.
In some ways it’ll zip by so fast. Within a few minutes everyone will know what happened, who’s alright and who’s not. We’ll respond to intermittent text messages while at work and let the folks know that life is normal over Bluetooth while driving to our next meeting. We’ll pause to hurt with those wounded in the terror attack, but moments later life will go on. We’ll go about our daily business, with one exception. It’s the factor that will linger, and pop into our minds every time we have a spare moment: “What about the kids?”
Several weeks ago my daughter was getting nervous about all of the stabbings. One morning she listened attentively to the news on her way to school to hear what had happened over the last several hours and where. There had been no stabbings, but there was rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel. “Thank G-d!” she declared. “It’s only rocket fire.” And with that she calmly removed her bag from the car, wished me a good day and casually walked into school with a typical good-morning expression on her face.
When I get home later today, whether I’m up to it or not, my daughter will sit me down for a conversation. She’ll want to be reassured that Ariel remains one of the safest places in Israel. She’ll need to be encouraged that our plans to go to Jerusalem tomorrow for a family event remain unchanged. We’ve been through this before, and she appreciates the family-time ritual. But she’s inquisitive. More than she wants to be calm, she wants to understand.
I think that this time I’ll have to tell her the whole, adult-version truth. The fact that when terror strikes it hits the outskirts of our city, where Palestinians from other areas mix with locals. The fact that shortly after the October terror attack, at the intersection leading to Ariel, the local villages wanted to make sure that we knew that the terrorist was not from the area. The fact that the Palestinians that I interact with on a daily basis have been going out of their way to be exceedingly friendly with the intention of stressing that they and the terrorists have nothing in common. The fact that we’ve built a mutually invested lifestyle with our Arab neighbors, and that they are working proactively to prevent terror, even if only to maintain their livelihoods and the sustenance that their loved ones depend on. And the understanding that the best way to prevent terror is not to big bigger fences but to promote Ariel’s model of coexistence.
I’m not sure if my daughter will want to understand, but time will march on. It’s sad to think that rockets are perceived as normal, even as a relief, for a ten year old. It’s also sad to think that terrorists are under the impression that their extreme measures are anything but self-defeating. In reality, the more they try to disrupt life, the more we get accustomed to it. The more we’re pushed, the firmer we stand. With every wave and act of terror, Israelis become more resilient.
Well, anyway, just a thought. Time to get back to work. I see that I just missed tens of Whatsapp messages (I’m on this one group that doesn’t need terrorism as an excuse for ruthlessly draining my phone battery). Those will have to wait. Gotta prioritize some emails and critical year-end tasks before the busy weekend. I would try to save up some strength for my conversation with my daughter tonight, but who am I kidding. Life has a way of moving forward, one way or another.