Today, I was a victim of terror.
Not terrorism, terror. Abject fear.
Around 3:30 or so, the headlines began blaring “17-Year-Old Girl Stabbed,” and then “Stabbing Victim in Critical Condition,” until finally it came: “17-Year-Old Girl Dies From Stab Wounds.”
My niece is 17. All of her friends, many of whom I know very well, are 17. Plenty of my friends nearby have 17-year-old daughters and/or nieces.
So when those headlines started filling my computer’s screen, terror gripped me. Outright fear. I was so scared that I might lose another family member to a terrorist attack.
My wife was already checking in with family and friends. When she informed me that everyone we know was safe, I felt relieved. I fully understood Alfred Hitchcock’s quote: “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” I later found out that the victim was not 17 (she was 21), and she wasn’t from around here (she was from Tzfat). That was the ‘Bang,” and it didn’t scare me; the hours before that ‘bang,’ when I thought it might have been my niece – that scared the hell out of me.
But then I felt angry at myself. How dare I feel relieved? Just because it wasn’t my niece who was attacked? Someone’s niece was. The murder isn’t any less tragic, it’s just less personal. And yet I thanked God. I thanked Him that my family was safe, even as I knew that another family was torn apart.
And that’s what terrorism is: using acts of violence to instill terror. The violence itself is merely a means to an end. Let’s just take a minute to let that sink in: the act of killing another human being isn’t even the point. The point is to scare all the ones that weren’t killed.
Will terrorism ever bring down the State of Israel? Of course not. But I can testify to you that it works: a terrorist killed a 21-year-old girl from Tzfat named Hadar Buchris, and for over two hours, I was terrified. I was terrorized.