Sunday, January 3, 2016

Does Tel Aviv now become part of Israel?

Until my son moved to Tel Aviv, I had no reason to go there. Friends had told me I wouldn’t like it. 

They said, Tel Aviv wasn’t so much an Israeli city as it was a European city in Israel. It was secular and predominantly Leftist, just like Europe. Tel Aviv, they told me, didn’t see itself as part of Israel.

Now that my son has moved to Tel Aviv, I’ve been there. I can understand how my friends felt. Tel Aviv doesn’t have a particularly Jewish face or feel. It really does appear mostly secular.

I can also see why people in Tel Aviv might not feel connected to the rest of Israel. The city has so much tourism, wealth and ‘culture’ one might indeed believe it was carved out from the rest of Israel.
It wasn’t vulnerable. It wasn’t a destination for Arabs intent upon killing Jews. It was a safety bubble, characterized more by fun than fear.

In 2012, Tel Aviv was hit by rockets fired from Gaza. Tel Avivians were surprised. A rocket would explode near-by and Tel Avivians didn’t run for cover. They just looked around and asked, ‘what was that?’

That’s what a self-defined protective bubble does for you. It teaches you to say, ‘what, me worry?’

Tel Avivians now worry. Their safety bubble has burst. They’re afraid to send their children to school today (Raphael Poch, “Terror strikes at the heart of Tel Aviv education”, Arutz Sheva, January 3, 2016). There’s terror in the streets of Tel Aviv.

Twice in the past six weeks, I’ve had the eerie experience of talking to my son on the phone in the middle of a Tel Aviv terror attack. None of my other children—who live in the Jerusalem area (where most recent terror attacks have hit)--have been on the phone with me during an unfolding terror attack. But that’s happened to me twice with my one child supposedly surrounded by a protective bubble.

The first Tel Aviv terror event I experienced on the phone with my son took place on November 19, 2015. That terror attack took place inside the building where he works. Thank G-d, he’d decided to go to work late that day--to get an early hair-cut. By the time he’d arrived at his building, the place was swarming with police; the air outside the building screamed with sirens from police and Emergency vehicles rushing to the scene. That’s when he called me.

This past Friday, January 1, 2016, my son and I shared a second Tel Aviv terror event over the phone. It was our normal Friday contact. As we spoke, I could hear multiple sirens loud enough to drown out our conversation. After a moment of this noise, my son asked if I was currently on-line. I answered, yes. He said, there were police and Emergency vehicles converging right in front of his apartment building, and police were getting out of their cars and running towards a near-by spot he couldn’t see from his apartment window.

He asked me to surf the internet, to see if I could find any reports of an unfolding terror attack in Tel Aviv. It took 5 seconds: terror attack unfolding in Tel Aviv; multiple shots fired; at least one dead, several wounded; more to follow.

In the end, two Jews were shot dead, seven wounded just yards from where my son lives. They were shot by an Arab. Somewhere in all of the chaos, a Tel Aviv cab driver was also murdered by gunfire. Police are investigating to see if he was yet another terror victim.

As of noon, January 3, 2016, the assailant was still at large, presumably still in Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv is afraid. Parents were keeping children off the street and away from school (“Terror strikes”, above).

According to Arab news, the male assailant in this attack is from a family where a cousin had been killed by Israeli Border Police (“2 Israelis killed, 7 injured in Tel Aviv shooting”, Ma’an News, January 1, 2016, updated January 2, 2016). The Arab report gave no date for that incident. After the cousin’s death, this assailant began to suffer depression. Since that time (no dates given), this 28-year old had attacked an Israeli soldier with a screwdriver (in 2007). He had also served jail time in Israel for attempting to steal a gun from an Israeli soldier—and for drug possession (ibid).

Israelis in Tel Aviv who knew this assailant all state emphatically that this man was not mentally ill (Cynthia Blank, "Residents: Tel Aviv shooter definitely sane", Arutz Sheva, January 3, 2016). 

He had a temper, Israelis said (ibid). On January 1, 2016, he went to Tel Aviv to kill Jews. He succeeded.

Tel Aviv is no longer protected. Its bubble has burst. It’s now on the front line, just like the rest of us.

Through terror, the Europe-like Tel Aviv becomes part of Jewish Israel. Will an awareness of that Jewishness change Tel Aviv?

Stay tuned.

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