The Terror Attack Next Door

Arrival in Tel Aviv:

“Did you hear about the attack?” The taxi driver asks me in Hebrew. “It happened 10 minutes ago. Just over there.”

He points. An ambulance passes.

“Any casualties?” I ask.

5 injured.

“Brother, put on your seatbelt,” I tell him. “There has been enough bad news tonight.”

The click of his seatbelt.

He turns the radio a little louder.

He translates the news into Hebrew words that are easy for me to understand.

I translate the news into English words that are hard for my friends to swallow.

I look at my two friends in the back of the cab. They’re Birthright participants who’ve just completed a 10-day introduction to Israel.

They’d been told that terror is a part of Israel’s reality.

But this is the first time they were seeing it. Feeling it.

Welcome to Israel.

The taxi driver continues:
“The worst part is not tonight.
It’s tomorrow.
When the streets will be emptier.
Because mothers will feel,
That their children are not safe in the heart of their city.
That they are not safe in their own homes.”

My friends speak in hushed voices:
“We know we’re fine for tonight.
But we worry about tomorrow.
When we will travel on by ourselves.”

And I understand.

I understand that fear.

But what they fail to understand is that this is it.

The day after an attack, the country begins to move on.

It has no choice.

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We reach the hostel. The talk is of reverberating gun shots and imminent alcoholic shots.

“Yihieh b’seder,” they say.”It’ll be okay.”

Because what else can you say?
Because how else can you continue?

Because this? This is life here.

The terrorists are caught.

A friend and I go to the beach. We briefly review the news and then move on to discussions of death and the nation to talking about life and personal history.

With the coming of dawn, the blood in Tel Aviv is washed away by the movement of the ocean and by the timed sprinklers as they water the grass.

So that the lawn lining the beach can continue growing.
So that this city can continue being beautiful.
Being vibrant.
Being alive.

The echoes of ambulance sirens are drowned out by the waking of the birds.

4 dead. 16 injured. A professor, a mother, a father, a fiance.
4 entire worlds. Lost.

The lover runs, rose in hand.

“Brother,” the store owner calls, “in your joy, be mindful that there was just an attack.” Because even the groom, on the day of his greatest celebration, remembers the pain of those suffering.

And the lover walks a little slower.
The rose still in hand.

Because what other option is there?

We can’t help but feel pain. But we must continue.

The sun rises. We get back to the hostel, shower, and fade into sleep.

Because what else can you say?

Two workers are chatting in the lounge area.

“Yehieh b’seder,” I hear. “It will be okay.”

With prayers for the souls of those who were killed and for the immediate recovery of those who were wounded in the attacks. May we only know peace and health henceforth.

(Image by the IDF)