Living with Terror

The Fellowship  |  October 14, 2015

Emergency team helping a man on a stretcher with a head injury.
Planting Roots in a Hostile Environment

I can’t recall when it first happened, but sadly, over the years it’s become normal to talk to my kids about terrorism. When I first moved to Israel from America 10 years ago I thought I would be able to hide the dangers of terrorism from my children. But I have realized that is impossible.

“Turn the news on,” my eight-year-old daughter implored on the way to school today. “I want to hear if anyone else got stabbed last night.” That was at 8:00 in the morning, and thank God no new attacks had been reported.

After dropping off my older kids, I took my three-year-old to nursery school. When we got there, the front gate was locked. I rang the bell a few times and wondered if her class was canceled. But as I turned back towards the car, my daughter’s teacher came out with a key. “I’m so sorry, but we have to take extra precautions,” she explained. Then she gave me that all too familiar look and said, “You understand – it’s because of the situation.”

Neither of us had to speak what we were thinking – even a nursery school is a potential target for Palestinian terrorism.

At 9:00 a.m., I turned on the news as I pulled out of a gas station and there were already reports of new attacks in Israel. I listened to the reporter tell how a 32-year-old Israeli man in central Israel was waiting for a bus, when a 22-year-old Arab approached him and began stabbing him repeatedly until passers-by pounced on the terrorist.

I hoped and prayed that that would be the last of bad news for the day, but it wasn’t. By the time I turned on my computer an hour later, there was another attack in Jerusalem. Two Palestinian terrorists got onto a public bus, one with a gun and one with a knife. Two Israelis were killed in the attack and another twenty were injured.

Each report of a new attack is both frightening and upsetting. It’s unacceptable that these horrendous news reports have become just average daily occurrences here in Israel over the past few weeks.

There really are no words to describe the mood Israelis are in. I don’t sense fear here in Israel, but rather extreme caution. People are not stopping their lives and plans, but changing them around in order to be as safe as possible. We all realize that there is no escaping the danger; attacks are happening everywhere. Two nights ago there was a terrorist attack at a shopping center five minutes from my house, where I often take my kids for bowling and ice cream. And every day we hear about more and more attacks happening all across this tiny land in family towns we once thought were immune.

So how can I explain the mood in Israel right now? I can’t.

Our lives are intertwined with those of our Arab neighbors – we work together, shop in the same stores, and go to the same hospitals. But the day-to-day interactions we hoped would bring our two nations to a state of peace are beginning to unravel.

Israelis are starting to view each Arab as a potential suspect. When we walk the streets, we keep a watchful eye and turn our heads every time we hear footsteps. We take precaution everywhere we go – at the grocery store, the doctor’s office, and post office. We don’t leave our houses without the horrible thoughts of “what if” running through our heads.

The goal of the terrorists is to let every single Israeli know that they are not safe. They aim to cause fear amongst the Jewish people wherever they go, by throwing stones at cars, shooting up buses, and stabbing people on the street.

But the Jewish people are resilient. We trust in our army, government, and God to protect us, and we rely on prayer to get us through these hard times.

– Ami Farkas