ז׳ בסיון ה׳תשע״ז (June 1, 2017) The End of Indifference
Do you ever look at the news, care for a second, and then forget because it doesn’t affect you? I used to do that all the time, but now it’s different. In America, people tend to be indifferent to world news. Many people don’t care about huge problems in the world when they aren’t happening in their home country. Although I’ve only been in Israel for less than two weeks, my worldview has completely changed.
In my little bubble of heavenly suburbia in San Diego, I was not exposed to any threat of danger or harm. Whenever I saw a police officer racing down the street, I’d assume that an old lady fell and hurt herself, or that there was a minor car crash. Anything dangerous seemed an impossibility. But as soon as I stepped off the plane at Ben Gurion Airport, I was forced to shift my entire mindset.
I was walking to the baggage claim after my flight when I heard lots of yelling. “SHEL MI ZE?!” (Who’s is this?!) Suddenly, security guards sprinted by me, screaming into walkie-talkies and staring at a small Dora the Explorer backpack. I just stood there, puzzled, until a crying girl and her confused mother explained to a guard that the bag was theirs.
It was at that moment that I realized all the articles that I’d ignored because they seemed so far away were a reality here. Terrorist attacks are a constant thought and worry because they happen so often. A few days ago, rockets from Gaza landed south of Ashkelon. I don’t think I’d ever been so worried in my life, even though I live about two hours from there. I feel safe and protected, but at the same time I feel vulnerable and afraid.
I feel safe because Israel feels like a normal, bustling country. There are soldiers and police all over the place to keep us safe, but in a way that also contributes to the vulnerability that I feel. It’s a double edged sword because I see bomb shelters in the city that are designed to keep us protected, but it’s scary that bomb shelters had to be built in the first place.
Sometimes I find myself looking at Syrian or Egyptian news, because now that I’m here, events in other countries can affect me. This is the first time in my life that world news is actually relevant to my life, because world events have the ability to change my experience either for better or worse. Ultimately, I am pretty much as safe here as I am in San Diego suburbia, but only because Israel is more security conscious than States. I think that my experience living in the Middle East will affect the way I view the world when I get home. I’ll no longer disregard news outside of North America.