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Terrorism is here again, but I refuse to live in terror

We are the children of the Second Intifada who measured the passage of time with 'was it before the Sbarro attack? Was it after the Gavish family?'
Police and medics at the scene of a shooting in Bnei Brak, on March 29, 2022. (Magen David Adom)

Terrorism is perverse because it takes all the best parts of you and turns them against you, shaping your insides into an autoimmune disease.

You love life. You want to live.

Well, now this love feeds into your terror, fueling the fear your enemies create.

You love your children. You want them to bloom and grow and prosper.

Well, now you will look at them as they leave home in the morning, and their vulnerability will drive you mad.

You love humanity. You are capable of empathy.

Well, now your empathy will bring you grief – the grief of the victims, of their families, their loved ones. And this grief will weigh you down, down, down, eroding your defenses against panic.

The news sites say five dead today; two dead the day before yesterday; four dead a week ago.

My toddler’s kindergarten says please be extra careful not to let strangers in!

My daughter’s school says we will no longer ask the sixth graders to stand around and monitor the crossroads in the morning.

The Prime Minister says a wave of murderous terrorism is before us.

My heart says no, no, no. Not again, not again.

My own memories come forth to serve my enemies.

We are the children of the Second Intifada.

We are the children who learned to stop and listen when the siren of an ambulance screamed by us – if there was only one ambulance, you could go on, and let go of your worry. More, and you better check the news.

We are the children who attended many funerals. We buried schoolmates, and neighbors, and friends.

We are the children who measured the passage of time with “was it before the Sbarro attack? Was it after the Gavish family?”

We are the children whose Shabbat was torn with news about the dolphinarium (21 killed), whose Passover was torn by news about the park hotel massacre (30 dead).

I tell myself that I am not afraid yet.

Maybe this won’t be an intifada, right?

I tell myself that I am not afraid yet.

The PM might be exaggerating, right?

The more I ask myself these questions the more I feel the fear that gathers up against my dams of strenuous repression. It’s there, it’s there, it’s almost here, I’ll drown.

I tell myself: stop fighting this, darling. You know better.

Change your metaphors: don’t think of your fear as an avalanche, as a flood-to-come.

Think of it as a thing, an object, a piece of equipment.

Hold it in your hands, this fear of yours. Look at it, look at its face, and say – thanks. You’ve done your work.

You highlighted and expressed my values and my loves by showing me how badly I recoil at the possibility of losing them. But now I need to focus on my loves themselves, dear useful fear of mine, and so your job is done.

Farewell.

When you let go of a piece of equipment, it’s bound to follow its internal commitment to the laws of physics and crash down. But in space, this very commitment means that you can watch what you let go of float away.

I tell myself: Fear is made to float away. This is the law that it adheres to, this is its nature.

I tell myself: Believe in this.

I tell myself: Make this the governing law of physics in your mind.

Terror is perverse because it wants to feed my loves into my fear and thus enslave me.

But I can make my fear into a thing that floats away and leaves behind only love.

About the Author
Rachel is a Jerusalem-born writer and speaker who's in love with her city's vibrant human scene. She writes about Judaism, parenting and life in Israel for the Times of Israel and Kveller, and explores storytelling in the bible as a teacher and on 929.
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