During the Gulf War, I was in America and my two very old parents were here in Herzliya. Of course I worried. A lot. I didn’t worry about the scuds hitting their house. That seemed like a remote possibility. I did worry about those middle of the night sirens that commanded them to move to their home-made shelter.
In their case the shelter was their bathroom. My mother actually had a bed and bath! No, not the famous American store Bed, Bath and Beyond. Just a bed made out of her bathtub. Lots of quilts and padding to stuff into the tub so that it reached a height for her to climb in and call it a bed. There was no beyond!
My father, who could sleep anywhere, had a comfortable chair
My worries focused on their jaunts to this torturous place. I had fears of their falling and causing themselves serious injuries.
I also worried about the gas masks which I believed, and still do, are of no value other than the psychological, are impossibly hard to put on correctly and have been known to cause more harm than good.
So, my advice to them, never heeded, was to just ignore the sirens and stay in bed.
Their experiences reminded me always of the ridiculous notion when I was a kid that moving our classroom to the hall would save us from nuclear weapons. Air raid sirens in Newark NJ were to calm the frayed nerves of our parents, not to prevent death from atomic bombs. We kids loved them though. Who wouldn’t love the sound of the sirens that took you away from your penmanship class?
A lot of time we worry about things that won’t happen. Unfortunately we often don’t know they won’t happen. Or will.
Think of 9/11. I’ll bet that those buildings were packed with many people who were afraid to come to Israel. Too dangerous here. Their tragedy is no less horrific, but the point is simply that one never knows where terror or tragedy will strike so we have the choice to live in fear or just to live! Therefore choose life.
I was reminded of all of this in the past few days, the days following the silly announcement by Donald Trump that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Nu? Is that news? Of course Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It has always been the capital of Israel. And frankly it will be the capital with or without the United States Embassy. The embassy will not make Jerusalem our capital. Jerusalem is our capital.
But this announcement came with all kinds of warnings about danger and intifadas and terrorist attacks and riots. Many of those with whom we share this beautiful land do not need a Trumped up announcement to commit their criminal acts, acts which hurt their own population as much as ours. In a more peaceful environment we wouldn’t need intense security and walls and all the well known measures we take to protect our citizens. Hatred and violence just breed hatred and violence.
So, hearing those warnings, our American friends and relatives have already started the worrying. They’ve forgotten about the atrocities in New York and focus on us here in Israel. Are you safe? Why don’t you come back to the states? Phone calls. Emails. Sweetly concerned about our welfare.
Can I guarantee anyone that we’re safe? I’m not stupid! I could never do that. Every trip in our car is a gamble, here, or there. Every step of our lives is a gamble, an act of faith…..an act of fate.
The real question is whether I feel less safe today than I did last week. The answer is no.
So, to my friends and family in America, I can’t guarantee your safety, or my own, here in Israel or there in the USA. I can tell you the weather here is glorious and Chanukah in Israel is very special. Very!