Posted on April 20, 2011 by Aviva P.
Note: I began writing this post almost a month ago, a day following the March 23 bombing at a Jerusalem bus station
I call the first time I came to Israel, the last “Golden Year” of summer programs. I was here in 2000, several months before the start of the second intifada. No one thought I was crazy for going. I received only blessings.
Three years later, during the Second Intifada, I returned. While it turned out the Intifada was coming to an end, there was no way of knowing for sure, especially since two months prior to my trip, Hamas executed two extremely deadly suicide bombings: One at a hitchhiking post outside Rishon Letzion and one at Cafe Hillel on Emek Refaim in South Jerusalem. I knew I was not going to let that stop me from going. Three years was too long of a time to be away from Israel. Still, many asked me why I was going, if I was scared, or if I was looking to die. When I arrived in Israel, Israelis, though excited to see tourists during this time, were just as perplexed. Why, when I had the choice to be safe
I was also here during Operation Cast Lead in ’09 (having been here several times in between my ’03 trip and this one). Frightened by the images and reports they saw on the news, my parents called me, desperately trying to convince me to cut my trip short. I refused, telling them, I leave, they win.
On Wednesday March 23, a bomb exploded at a bus station outside of Binyanei Ha’Uma, killing one and injuring dozens of others. In those immediate moments following, we were a community that was confused, worried. We were a community that frantically tried to get in touch with our friends and loved ones, an action that was foreign to many and a distant memory to others. It was unfamiliar, disorienting.
But, for those of us not directly affected, life went on as normal pretty quickly yesterday. I was back to studying and laughing with my friends, thinking about what to make for dinner that night and whether I wanted to do laundry that day or the next.
I am going about normal business because that’s what happens in Israel. We don’t wallow. Those of us who can, take a deep breathe, keep our prayers on those affected and keep moving forward. It is what we have always done as a people and is why we are still here and will always be here.