Sunday, October 11, 2015

When Terror Is At Your Doorstep

Stone-throwing Palestinian youths stand next to a fire during clashes with Israeli police in Sur Baher east Jerusalem on Oct. 7. Photo by Ammar Awad/Reuters
I want to talk to you about fear. The kind that paralyzes you when, in the midst of a working day, you hear ambulances from outside the window, and everyone's phone starts beeping with Breaking News alerts, saying 5 people were stabbed, only two streets away, by a terrorist with a screwdriver.
This is when fear takes over, after a week of horror, with back-to-back terror attacks, when it happens right outside your window. First, you make sure everyone you know (and who live nearby) is okay, and not planning on walking home alone. Then, you wish your co-worker, as they leave the office to go home, to "stay safe," instead of "have a lovely weekend." And you can't work, and you can't think, because what you read about in the newspaper just got real.
You think about the dozens of families who lost their loved ones, who were merely walking down the street, in seconds. Their whole world turned upside down. And you can't help but think: "what would it be like if tomorrow, it's me, or someone I know?" You want to console, but you can't find the words, so you turn outside, trying to use every little bit of online power you have, to spread the word and make sure people know what's been happening here, so that they can put pressure on their leaders to stop encouraging terrorism by keeping silent.
Sadly, it doesn't happen. The attacks do get global coverage, but the kind that no one would be okay with if it happened in his or her country. "Palestinian shot dead after terror attack killing two." (True, but what did he do to deserve being killed?! Maybe committed that terror attack?) "3 killed in attack" (An act of God? How were they killed? Who attacked them? Why?) And then, you hear that UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon condemn the attacks, but did not say a word about the victims - Jewish Israeli who were brutally murdered, just for being Israeli Jews.
After a week of attacks, they're still being framed as "lone wolves who attack out of despair from the 'occupation'." But it's really not that. It is a wave of terror, perhaps a third Intifada even. It's just a new age of terror attack. The kind that looks "better" in the eyes of the media. Softer ("Just" 1-5 murdered,) and seemingly unorganized.
There you are. Sitting at the office, trying to plan your safe way home, thinking of the worst, and reading reports that make your guts turn inside out.  This is fear, true fear, of the possibility that it'll never end, because it is, in the most twisted way, being backed up by important figures and media outlets. Not literally, but in a way that leads the way for more, with no attempt to stop it.
Then, the fear mixes with rage, and all you want it so scream to the world: Stones can kill. Screwdrivers, too. And Israelis are under a wave of terror attacks. Ideology, despair, boredom- the reason doesn't matter. All that matters is the result. Terror must be called for what it is, firmly and confidently, with no hesitation.
This experience of uncertainty, of fear from the possibility of a next time, of the shock and the worrying that threatens to stop your heart from beating-all feelings we're already familiar with, and could never get used to.

May the memory of the victims be of blessing.