War in Syria
Are We Afraid to Live in Israel?
The question that I get asked the most often from friends, family, and visitors is "Are We Afraid to Live in Israel!"
Today is Thursday and therefore massage day. My massage therapist, Jonah Taylor and her husband are immigrants to Israel from Colorado. It is September 2013 and once again the region is "heating up." Jonah and I discussed our respective views about living under the constant threat of war and terrorism. This is Jonah's perspective on the emotions associated with this life in a war engulfed region:
All of you keeping up with the news are aware of what’s going on in Syria - of the instability there. When I lived in Colorado, I was a member of the Multi-Lingual International Club. I knew a woman named Strasia. She was from Syria. She seemed rather friendly until I mentioned my love for Israel. She distanced herself from me after that. She is now back in Syria. I sincerely hope that all is well. The conflicts in this region are felt all around the world.
Since the recent revolt in Egypt and the turmoil in Syria things seems to be changing in Haifa and throughout the country. You can feel a constant sense of fear and foreboding. Things are occurring that promote concern. Yesterday the Israeli government tested the air raid system. People here and throughout the country are rushing to buy gas masks. The Israeli Defense Forces called up thousands of reservists.
Please watch this video:
Maybe they test sirens once a year one way or the other. According to my husband David, for many years in Chicago the city tested the air raid sirens every Tuesday at noon. No one paid attention. The USSR needed to be sure to attack Chicago on a Tuesday at noon. In Atlanta they test tornado sirens on a weekly basis. Since we’ve been here, the first test of the air raid siren was yesterday.
Our view of the Mediterranean allows us to see northward toward Syria and Lebanon. A lot of times we hear fighter planes zooming overhead, but can rarely see the planes. We have been told that Israeli jets bombed arms depots in Syria three times in the recent weeks.
We try to listen to both the English and Hebrew news. The leaders of Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah have threatened to attack Israel if Syria is punished by The United States and other nations for the atrocity of murdering their own citizens with chemical weapons. The citizens of Israel have lived under constant threat of conflict and destruction since the rebirth of the nation in 1948.
Anyway, my husband David told me to always be aware. Israel is officially in a heightened state of alert. David managed to frighten the devil out of me. Obviously, I knew that something like this could happen even before we moved to Israel. It is one thing to understand something in the abstract and another to experience it firsthand. David said whatever Syria or Lebanon or Hezbollah does to Israel, that they will suffer worse damage. It is a small comfort indeed!
I, and most Israelis, feel the same way as Jonah. The constant threat of annihilation has most people in this small and brave nation in a constant state of tension and readiness.
Am I (Earl) and others afraid to live in Israel? Yes, of course the constant fear of destruction is always there and a part of life in this beleaguered nation. Yet, the joys of building our Jewish homeland are worth it to many of us and life does indeed go on.