29 Ways To Live With Terrorism In Israel

With the increased terror attacks around the globe, the world is starting to realize that maybe Israel has some use after all, other than for kicking when she’s down. Israel can advise on ways to prevent, defend against, and fight terrorism. And Israelis who have lived with the fear of terrorism for decades can advise on their coping mechanisms. How do Israelis go about everyday life, remain vigilant and wary but not afraid, humor intact and be among the happiest nations in the world?

I don’t have the answer. But having lived here for two and a half years, maybe I’ve picked up some techniques. So these are some of the ways that I (and probably many other Israelis) live here with the fear of terrorism:

  1. Determine that you feel safer on one side of the road, and always walk on that side
  2. Then move to a new flat on the un-safe side
  3. Avoid going through that park even in broad daylight because any time you have done it seemed you were the only Jew there
  4. Walk alone at 1am after a night out, singing to yourself
  5. Stand behind the bollards when you’re waiting for a bus
  6. Walk in the road because there are too many people blocking the pavement, waiting at a bus stop that you need to go past
  7. Read the news, feel sick, wish you hadn’t read it so pretend nothing happened and carry on as normal
  8. Read the news, then lock yourself in the bathroom and cry for 10 minutes. Jewish blood is cheap. Israeli lives don’t matter. And it could be any of us. We are alone, together
  9. Flinch when you watch a video of Palestinians celebrating an attack, because there’s no denying the joy they feel at innocent Israeli deaths, and it makes the pain even worse
  10. Wonder how you’ll ever be able to go on a bus again, after all the ambulances and police driving past your bus and the sky ahead filled with smoke
  11. Knowing you’re being unreasonable, get annoyed at the length of time a street is blocked off or the tram is suspended while security deal with a suspicious object
  12. Don’t read the news. Act like there is no news this minute, there’s only here and now
  13. Read the news, too much, too often (even if it isn’t part of your job.) Every minute there’s something else. This world is so crazy, you have to laugh. And if it is part of your job, it can be cathartic to be doing something that you’re passionate about
  14. Dark humor. It helps
  15. Laugh at the media coverage of Israel. Fume at the media coverage of Israel
  16. Imagine yourself punching the computer screen. Fantasize about telling the anti-Semites provoking you online to go eff themselves
  17. Forget your pepper spray at home in Jerusalem and not care
  18. Forget your pepper spray at home when you’re spending the weekend in Tel Aviv and feel worried. Know you were right to worry, because a suspect got pulled off your bus when you arrived, and then, even worse, a sherut driver told you not to go through the shuk at night – no one would ever say such a thing in Jerusalem!
  19. Find yourself muttering the Arabic for “stab” as you try to remember the correct pronunciation from the various videos you’ve seen of Palestinians, including imams and children, yelling the word as they brandish knives
  20. Feel bemused, but not scared, when, the day after the Tel Aviv shooting, a group of young Arab boys come up to you on the street to say shalom, shake your hand and hug you. Feel bemused that you weren’t scared, except for the first ½ a second when you briefly considered and then dismissed the concern that they may have a knife
  21. Still occasionally think you’re hearing a rocket siren even though the last real one you heard was 2 years ago (which is probably longer than most of the rest of the country)
  22. Distract yourself by complaining about small things, like mosquitoes. Contemplate the idea that they could be dead terrorists, reincarnated. Until you squish them
  23. Find very Israeli things that will annoy and amuse you, like when you tell the cashier you don’t want a bag, and she puts your stuff in the bag and ties it really tight before giving it to you
  24. Worry that actually it may not be terrorism that brings about the world’s downfall, but that Pokemon game
  25. Go out with friends, try new things, conquer your fears, meet new people
  26. Bake delicious things. Eat ice cream. Drink cocktails until everything is hilarious
  27. Listen to the song סלסולים way too many times, because it really is true: what speaks to Israelis is bass and סלסולים
  28. Realize that despite the terror threat here, it isn’t really like the rest of the world is much safer, so you can only hope and pray for the best
  29. And you wouldn’t want to live anywhere else anyway, because there’s only one Jewish homeland and we need it
About the Author
Mizrachi Jew. Israeli-in-Progress. But I only drink tea with milk.