The Israeli character loves risks. It makes every daring experience like a movie full of action, filled with inexplicable pleasure, and provides a sting without which there is no feeling of life. It explains why despite the stern travel warnings and frequent reports of thwarted Iranian assassination attempts of Israeli citizens visiting Turkey, particularly Istanbul, thousands of Israelis continue traveling to that destination.
But one must act wisely and not ignore warnings, just as it is written: “A man should never stand in a place of danger and say that a miracle will be wrought for him, lest it is not.” (Babylonian Talmud). It is important to be careful.
Jews living in the Diaspora do not face this threat hovering over Israeli tourists with the same intensity. I remember when I was in Germany and England during periods when the Jews were targeted and warnings were given about potential antisemitic attacks. I saw whole families with small children walking in public with a carefree attitude, with yarmulkes on their heads and Star of David pendants around their necks.
Even in modern-day Iran, Jews live quietly and modestly and the Iranians understand them and have lived by their side for generations. On the other hand, Israelis are easy prey, a prime target for Iranians who yearn to take revenge after accusing Israel for a series of assassinations of Iranian military officers and scientists in their country.
Israelis have become accustomed to living in a hate-filled atmosphere, in a conflict-ridden Mediterranean region, in a reality of constant danger, so the thought of “nothing will happen to me” is stronger than any real threat.
The travel warnings issued for Israelis traveling to Turkey also include other cities and regions of the world. Nevertheless, it has not prompted them to make significant changes. They are not acting out of impudence or from defiance to demonstrate “here we are in spite of everything,” but at their root there is a belief in good fate, forever.
The writer Leo Tolstoy described this with great sensitivity: “What is the Jew? … What kind of unique creature is this whom all the rulers of all the nations of the world have disgraced and crushed and expelled and destroyed; persecuted, burned and drowned, and who, despite their anger and their fury, continues to live and to flourish. What is this Jew whom they have never succeeded in enticing with all the enticements in the world, whose oppressors and persecutors only suggested that he deny (and disown) his religion and cast aside the faithfulness of his ancestors?!
“The Jew – is the symbol of eternity. … He is the one who for so long had guarded the prophetic message and transmitted it to all mankind. A people such as this can never disappear. “The Jew is eternal. He is the embodiment of eternity.”
The root of this deep feeling that exists in the soul of every Jew is the thousands of years of connection to the Upper Force, of belonging to eternity, the feeling that we are continuing together as a people forever and that we have an important and dedicated role, to become “a light unto nations.” While this thought does not exist in our consciousness, it is hidden within our hearts.
This eternal feeling and the connection to the Upper Force should be felt in the heart of every person in the world, not just in the subconscious of Israelis. But the world is approaching this feeling in its own way, through suffering and anguish. Day by day the world feels embroiled in deep crisis. People experience wars and plagues and life becomes insufferable.
As troubles intensify, the world will understand that it is impossible to continue in this way, in a state of separation and hatred, which is the source of all evil, and as a result humanity will strive to change for the better and act toward unity. What is expected from Israel is to lead the way to unity, and thereby serving as a role model.