The Absolute Ridiculousness of It All

Do you know what is totally ridiculous about the current situation in Israel right now?

I am afraid to think.

Afraid to rationalize in my head what is okay and what is not.

About 15 years ago, when my family was planning aliyah, my father was talking with a cousin of his, who worried about my father putting his family in danger by moving to Israel. “Safety is an illusion” is what my father told him. “It doesn’t matter where you live.”

Not long after that, this relative’s son, who was so worried about our moving to Israel, died in the World Trade Center attack on 9-11.

Those words echo with me.

Safety is an illusion.

And yet, living in Israel, you can’t help but rationalize.

The Henkins were murdered while driving in Yo”Sh¬†(also known as the shtachim, or West Bank), but even though I also live in Yo”Sh, its safer where I live — they were in a dangerous spot — near Itamar, and it’s a known thing that the Arabs deep into the Palestinian areas, like near Itamar and Yitzhar, are more hot headed and dangerous. So driving near my house, still in Yo”Sh, but closer to Jerusalem? That is safe, I told myself.

Of course, with so many attacks near the Kotel, in and near the Old City of Jerusalem — I’m not going anywhere near there any time soon, I publicly announced on Facebook. That’s a dangerous area.

I had to go into town to bring something to someone, and because of the timing, I needed to shlep there with all my 4 kids. I told my husband, who was concerned about me traveling into Jerusalem with them, that he didn’t have to worry — I was just going to the String Bridge, meeting someone there, and coming straight home — I wouldn’t be going anywhere dangerous — nothing happens at the String Bridge.

Of course, I ate my words when that night there was a terror attack at the String Bridge.

My friend’s daughter was going on a school trip to Pisgat Ze’ev and was concerned because of its proximity to Beit Chanina and Shuafat. I reassured her that my husband had been a security guard there for 5 years, and in that time, surprisngly based on its location, there was only 1 terror attack that he was aware of, on the train one stop from Beit Chanina.¬†Imagine how I ate my words when, a few hours later, I heard about the stabbing attack in Pisgat Ze’ev, where 2 people, including a 13 year old boy from my husband’s school were critically wounded and the terrorists neutralized just a few hundred feet from my husband’s post.

I had plans to meet a friend in town, to go shopping at a second hand bookstore. My husband was debating the wisdom of my going out to there, and I said “It’s just Geula, not a dangerous area.” Just a few days later, there was a terror attack in Geula, where a few people were injured and one person killed.

Every time I thought to myself that certain places seemed safer, I was getting proven wrong. Literally at least an hour or two after I saw someone writing about Eilat and I thought to myself “Eilat seems to be the one place in the country that is safe” there were reports on the news of a suspected terror attack in Eilat.

It got to the point that I was afraid to think. Afraid to say that it’s okay to go somewhere, because maybe my saying someplace is safe will just prove to me that it isn’t? Ra’anana was safe… until it wasn’t, with two attacks in one day. Har Nof was safe… until it wasn’t, with the most gruesome terror attack I’ve ever heard of.

I had to go grocery shopping; we were running really low on supplies. I decided not to go to the shuk in Jerusalem like I usually do, and instead go to the nearest Rami Levi. Because… because… I couldn’t even say the words. I couldn’t say that Rami Levi was safe, even though as far as I know, in the 9 years since I’ve lived here there hasn’t been even one terror attack there, despite Arabs and Jews shopping side by side there for years. Because what if… what if my merely voicing that it was safe would somehow cause it to not be safe, to prove me wrong, just like I was with Pisgat Zeev, the String Bridge, and Geula…

So I said nothing, tried not to even think about it… and just went to shop, carrying a big, strong wooden stick with me, yes, even in my shopping cart, even if it got me funny looks, because that is a weapon I was trained to use, at least when I was taking karate classes 13 years ago… And I came home, without a scratch.

And for now, Rami Levi still has been quiet.

But I have to go shopping soon, but keep on pushing it off. Just like I keep on pushing off my trip to the bank that I need to make already. Because even if errands are urgent, are they worth risking my life? And as the mother of 4 kids, I worry that just leaving my house is already risking my life.

And yet… tonight I have to go to Maaleh Adumim, to pick up something from my friend’s house, that I ordered before all this madness started, that, had I known about the current madness, perhaps I would not have ordered since shlepping to Maaleh Adumim goes beyond my comfort zone.

But since I have to get there, I’ve been trying to plan my route so that it is as safe as possible. Transferring from my bus to the Maaleh Adumim bus is as quick as possible, but the recent terror attack at the light rail station makes me wary. Other places that I could transfer — at Binyanei Ha’Uma — but the recent attacks at the String Bridge and Tachana Merkazit make that area feel not so safe either.

So then I thought- I’ll catch the bus at Tzomet Bar Ilan, because there hasn’t…. Can’t even say it… But it seems safer than my other options.

But then I remind myself that the longer I am in Jerusalem, the more time, God forbid, that something can happen, as opposed to a quick in and out of the city… And terrorists have boarded buses and shot at buses before, so if we’re driving through a more dangerous area after all…

And honestly, that is the absolute ridiculousness of it all, that every single place I go, every little thing I do, I need to calculate what seems safer. But in a heartbeat, just one more terror attack, and it’s all proven wrong.

Safety is an illusion.

And yet, I can’t help but feel that I do need to make an effort, and try to keep safe, as best as I can.

So I will be going to Maaleh Adumim, wooden stick in hand… and praying that we all stay safe. And that the day will come, very soon, where I don’t need to calculate whether a trip to my friend’s house or to the grocery store or to meet someone will be putting my life at risk.

About the Author
Ronit Peskin has made it her goal to increase Torah and increase love between Jews in Israel and around the world. She is the founder of WomenForTheWall.org, an organization created to preserve the traditional sanctity at the Western Wall. She comes from a Modern Orthodox background, has been in Dati Leumi, Chareidi, Chassidic, and non religious circles, and because of that, has a unique perspective on the goings-on in Israel.
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