Special Letter from an Israeli to Americans

Special Letter from an Israeli to Americans


Dear Americans:

Noga Gur-Arieh
Noga Gur-Arieh

What you dealt with last week in Boston is nothing new for me. In fact, it’s something that I’ve almost grown used to.

Why “almost”?

Because no matter how many times you hear or read about a terrorist attack, no

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matter how often you check with your friends and family to make sure they’re alive and well after an incident, you always find yourself a little shaken.

In Israel, we’ve been following the Boston Marathon bombing every day. It’s easy to pick up on news updates in newspapers, websites and on television broadcasts. We’ve been thinking about you, grieving with the families who lost loved ones and hoping those who have been injured will not suffer for long.

What’s often the most difficult to deal with is how sudden everything happens and how quickly life changes. I know the feeling; I’ve spent years dealing with terrorists and terror. The uncertainty, the fear and the shock, it all comes together the moment you hear about an attack.

You might be at home, at school or at work, and then suddenly everything changes. At first, you might notice a strange look of shock on a friend’s face as they check out their laptop or smartphone. Then you hear the whispers that “something’s happened.”

No additional words are really necessary. It’s clear that terrorists have struck again. The only questions remaining at that point are the details – who, what and where?

So you sit in front of your computer and refresh it often, waiting for all the grisly details to be revealed. Time seems to stand still briefly as you sit nervously in your chair, bouncing your feet with nervous energy, glancing about to see if anyone nearby has any additional news.

And then, the facts start dribbling in, bit by bit, and life gets really scary. You learn that a bus exploded in Tel Aviv, and you quickly start calling everyone you know to make sure they are alive and well. You start with all the people you know who live close to the blast area, then you broaden your search, checking on friends and family who, G-d only knows why, might have been on a bus that day.

Logic has little to do with what you’re doing; it’s an automatic reaction. The feeling of anxiety only gets worse when you can no longer call, as all the cell networks in the area become overloaded. Now you’re really frightened because on one level you know the phone network has crashed, but, well, there’s the chance that one of your friends is actually in the blast zone and that’s why you can’t reach them.

It’s all very scary. Minutes seem to drag on like hours. Dealing with this sort of terror never gets easier.

This, my friends in America, is how I spent my childhood. In fact, it all happened again just recently when a bus was bombed in Tel Aviv.

I was having lunch on the campus of Tel Aviv University, laughing with my friends, when the whispering started. I especially recall seeing a good friend who lives in Tel Aviv as she walked across a nearby patio, anxiously trying to call all her friends before her phone went dead.

I also remember getting a call from my mother, half an hour later, when finally we were able to touch base with one another.

Terror attacks are horrible. You’re left feeling alone and vulnerable, wondering if someone very close to you has been injured or killed, trying to figure out if there will be more attacks and if you’re safe. It’s something I’ve never been able to deal with easily.

Now you have gone through this again, and even though I’m on the other side of the world, I feel your fear and shock and uncertainty. Even though I’ve experienced this sort of thing in Israel, I don’t believe for a moment that I can really understand how you felt and what went through your minds when you first learned about the blasts in Boston.

All I really want to say is that I pray that you will never have to go through this sort of thing again and that terrorist attacks never, ever become “routine” in America. May G-d be with you and let’s all hope and pray that one day soon hate will vanish from the world.

Noga Gur-Arieh visited the U.S. to work at Camp Coleman after finishing her military service in the IDF. She is now back in Israel, working as a journalist.


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