In The Face of Fear

Never did it occur to me that I could possibly see the terror Israel faces from time to time. I think on my past few trips to Israel I had a sense of naivety. This belief that nothing wrong could happen in Israel filled my head as my eyes were absorbing everything I could about this beautiful country. I would constantly think to my self “There’s no way terror is found here.” This October in Israel is a little bit different than my previous visits to Israel.

I came to Israel when things were calm. The first few weeks were fine, and were so amazing. Then, out of the blue, terror struck Israel like a hammer. It felt like things seemed to happen so quickly. It seems to me that things really started to get people’s attention when the two Israeli parents were ambushed in front of their four children. When I heard about this, I was shocked. What would this mean for me? The next day, a family was attacked in the Old City. The Old City? Really? The Old City is such a holy site for not only the Jews, but is a hub of holy for other religions as well. How could attacks happen there now? The following days were plagued with notifications of various stabbings, attacks and riots going on.

Days in Israel now are scary, and it’s scarier how silent the world has been. Back home, some of my friends from school asked how amazing Israel has been. My response is always something along the lines of: “Well besides the whole stabbings and attacks on a daily basis thing, everything is great!” Not to much surprise, mainstream American media platforms have not been covering the situation so well. I wish that the media would tell the whole story as it is. Yes, Israel makes mistakes, but let’s please move on from that. Headlines shouldn’t read: “Palestinian injured after knife attack in Jerusalem” as that makes Israel seems like the aggressor. It infuriates me to see how twisted the headlines read from time to time. I’ve always known of bias in the media. This time, I’m actually here and it hurts to know that the country I am from is grossly manipulating stories to make Israel look like the bad guy. Israel is not the bad guy. In a post StandWithUs recently released,  it is now known that from January 1 to October 18 of this year there have been 1,703 terror attacks against Israel. 778 of those have occurred since Rosh Hashana.

Things have not calmed down, yet it feels better. I figured out the reason why is because I’m used to it now. I’m used to getting multiple updates per day about innocent people getting stabbed. I’m used to being restricted from some parts of the country. I’m used to consciously being aware of all of my surroundings more so than before. I’m used to not being comfortable walking by myself. I don’t like that. I should not be used to this, I should be used to carelessly getting Aroma for lunch or getting used to going to a music shop in Tel Aviv and playing more guitars than I can count on my hands. Unfortunately, the things I find most familiar are those I don’t want to be acquainted with.

There are no sirens for these types of attacks, and that’s what makes it so terrifying. There’s no telling when, where, or with what someone will be attacked. In previous escalations of violence, rockets were fired mostly from Gaza. With rockets, Israeli citizens would hear a siren and a few seconds to get to safety and with the help of the Iron Dome, most of the time no one would get hurt. There is no intel on who will wake up one morning with the motivation to take a Jewish life. This fact is one of the most frightening things about the whole situations.

As a Jewish musician, I think about Hebrew texts quite a bit. The one I am most recently attached to reads: “Lo yisa goy el goy cherev, v’lo yilm’du od milchama” which translates to Nation shall not lift up sword unto nation, and let them study war no more. I recently wrote a melody for this because I was so deeply moved by this text in relation to the situation. In the face of fear, hope sheds a light unto people. I take this light and turn it into music, my outlet of expression. Although it doesn’t appear to be calming down very soon, I am praying for the restoration of peace in my home.

About the Author
Max A. Kasler is currently a student on Young Judaea Year Course, a gap year program. He is a Jewish musician from Springfield, New Jersey. In the Fall of 2016, Max will become a student at Muhlenberg College.
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