Maybe I am too new to Israel to call Dizengoff my street, but I know parts of it well and Friday afternoon I was about to go to Dizengoff Center, truthfully, because I thought a movie might change a stressed mood. I almost got on the wrong bus, which I’ve done before, and then I would have walked over to Dizengoff at just about the time a terrorist was pulling out his rifle and firing into a pub and two cafes.
But I decided that before the markets closed for Shabbat and before it started raining again, I’d get groceries. So I wasn’t there. Most of Tel Aviv and even most of the people walking on Dizengoff were not there in the line of fire. But two young Israelis, Alon Bakal, age 26 and Shimon Ruimi, age 30, were murdered; eight others were injured and hospitalized; and many people were traumatized. Just the day before, Alon Bakal had sent his father a text: “I’m having fun; I love to live.”
For on Friday afternoon, the streets and cafes of Tel Aviv are crowded with people enjoying life here.
When I got back home with my groceries, I saw on Channel 10 news what had happened, what has been happening in some part of Israel nearly every day for the past three months: a terrorist had attacked Israeli Jews for being. For existing.
As I watched the news on my computer, flipping among channels 10 and 2 and the English language Israeli news sites, I didn’t feel afraid, though maybe I’ll feel that later, as I walk to my ulpan every Sunday and Tuesday past the cafes that were riddled with bullets. And I didn’t feel like I wanted to rush back to the US any more than I might on other days when I’m missing family and friends.
In fact, I felt like what I had been thinking about and worrying about that afternoon was so trivial it did not even matter what this particular day’s obsessions were. I felt: I’m alive and safe and life is incredible.
And I wish for this front-line that is Israel to start being a place the rest of the world notices — not, as has so often been the case, in order to blame it for defending itself; and not, as has so often been the case, to blame its victims of terror for the abuse heaped on them. And especially not to pretend that there are no connections of ideology linking the terror in Paris and San Bernardino and Tel Aviv. But to notice that what happens here is happening in Europe and America and for the same reasons.
In the US, it is hard to follow Israeli news events, even though Israel is always in the news. If you watch CNN, you may think there is some possibility that this was a “criminal” rather than a terrorist attack. You may wonder how it is that, while still at large, the killer has an attorney who is being quoted in the New York Times. You may have missed the information that as soon as the killings were reported, the Hamas government of Gaza praised them.
You may even miss the fact that these “lone wolf” attackers are actually following a herd, one that supplies weapons, training, (in this case) a get-away, and most important, an agenda. Someone should tell Reuters News Service that, as far as we know, not a single perpetrator of a stabbing, or shooting, or car-ramming against Israelis has said he or she did this because peace talks are stalled or because there are settlements. The goal is to eliminate Israel.
But the good thing is that if you come to Israel tomorrow, what you’ll see if you walk down Dizengoff Street is that the terrorists’ goal has absolutely no chance of succeeding.