Living with Terror: The Reflections of an Israeli Student

Article excerpt

A NORMAL day in my life begins when I open my eyes and rush to see the morning newspaper. I anxiously check the headlines to see if f recognize anyone in the pictures of the previous day's terror victims. As I ride the bus to my university in Tel Aviv, I observe my fellow passengers for anyone suspicious. Upon arrival at the university, I pass through the well-guarded gate, and am invariably asked to open my bag. En route to class, I look for my friends. I can't help but wonder whether anyone was called into the army reserve during the night.

When we leave the library at the end of the day, my friends and I have a hard time deciding whether or not we should go out. We are constantly trying to come up with ideas of places to go where there are no crowds. We'll often decide that it is not worth risking our lives to go wandering around at the nearby mall. Like many other Israelis, I would rather spend the evening at home than risk going to a bar, club or restaurant.

While these small daily sacrifices may sound trivial in comparison with the situation presented by the media, I can't imagine that there are many readers who would want to live this lifestyle. To be denied the freedom of walking down the street without fear is a price that no civilian should have to pay. Taking one's little brother to a movie or one's grandmother to a supermarket, potentially exposes all concerned to a suicide bomber. Our routine includes sitting in traffic because the road was blocked when a suspicious bag was found at a bus stop. Family members frequently call one another just to make sure they have reached their destination safely.

This year Independence Day was one of the days that strongly expressed the mood here. On the one hand, you could see flags hanging out of cars, houses and stores all over the country. The demand for flags this year was double that of last year. On the other hand, not many people went out into the streets to celebrate. The fear of being in crowded places took over this time. I, personally, preferred going to a private, well secured party rather than worrying my mom by going to the usual, mass outdoor celebrations. The Palestinian terrorists, even if they didn't actually succeed in committing an act of terror by planting a bomb or having a suicide bomber blow himself up in a crowded area, did wreck our celebrations. Compared to previous years, this was a sad Independence Day.

Political Views

Israelis want a return to normality. The legitimacy of the Palestinian cause does not justify terror. Nothing justifies terror. Israelis are enraged. I believe that it was this rage that impelled the government to resort to military actions. I am sure that Palestinians are enraged too. The difference is that we are reacting in a controlled manner, focusing on targets that propagate terror. The Palestinians are reacting with terror. They are killing for the sake of killing; we are killing in order to stop recent killing.

Many young people have changed their political views because of this relatively new situation. The shift is astounding. Israelis who two years ago were left-wing activists are now heard to say that they no longer believe that there are moderate voices on the other side who genuinely seek a permanent, peaceful resolution to the conflict. The same soldiers and students who eight years ago, after Prime Minister Rabin's assassination, were nicknamed 'the candle children' and were known for their anti-war views, are now in a fever of tit for tat actions. The final goal, and that's what most people believe, is indeed peace, one way or the other. The opinions concerning the way to achieve that peace are divided into more or less two main groups (excluding radical points of view). One group says that we should continue to fight until the other side understands that it will achieve nothing by terrorism and will then go back to the negotiating table. …