A minute after I finished my little love note to Jerusalem (see July 2nd post), my phone rang. My husband was calling to share the news that a man in downtown Jerusalem had just used a bulldozer as a weapon and killed three people by attacking several vehicles before being shot.
As we had planned our trip to Israel earlier this year, I had hoped that our timing would be right to somehow avoid the kind of terrorist incidents that have characterized Israeli security for so many years. That turned out to be too much to hope for, of course.
I spent that afternoon watching the news, checking the web, and trying to decide whether to proceed with our planned return trip to Jerusalem the next day. After a few hours, it became clear, or at least appeared from the press accounts, that this was an isolated incident, one very angry or perhaps crazy man acting on his own. I began to feel like I was watching the news in America: This is kind of violent incident that happens all the time there. The difference to me is that in the US the violence is typically, but not always, not politically motivated. I decided that returning to Jerusalem with my family would not be so different from the decision that millions of American parents make to send their children to high school every day, knowing that there is nothing (least of all US gun laws) standing between the normalcy of everyday life and another Columbine. Or the decision federal employees make to go to work, visions of Oklahoma City pushed to the back of their minds. There is a difference, some say, between living in fear and living with fear.
Maybe this is what living with fear feels like: We went back to Jerusalem the next day, and had another lovely visit. But I gave a small, involuntary start every time I saw a backhoe driving down the streets of the city.