“Are you alive?”

“Are you alive?”

Terror returns to the streets of Jerusalem

First you hear the ambulances. The first one you ignore, the second one sounds strange. When you hear the third one, you turn on the radio.

Ten years ago, in endless months of terror attack after terror attack in Jerusalem’s streets, we developed that routine, and here we are again. Sure enough, there was a bomb. Was it in a bus? Which line? Was it a suicide bombing? Nothing is clear yet, only the location.

As part of the same routine, I’m rushing to start the “check-in” calls. I know that in few seconds the cell phone networks will collapse; I’m texting to my parents, to my sisters, my nieces and nephews who live very close by. It’s a very short message: “Are you alive?” Another sister is calling, “I can’t catch Mom, have you heard from her?”

The main feeling is unbelievable déjà-vu — been there, done that; can’t believe it is happening again. Somehow, we were able to repress those horrible years. Years of endless murders, fear and suffering. We never talk about it, we never raise memories. Never. Who wants to remember a bride killed in the evening of her wedding? Whole families wiped out? Who wants to remember the fear oftaking a bus or sitting in a coffee shop? Who want to remember empty hotels, empty streets? Somehow we survived it, and we never look back. Is it starting again?

In light of this déjà-vu I’m thinking of the differences. The first and most important one is my kids. Ten years ago, I was a student. Today I have four kids. Thank God they are too young to take a bus by themselves. But they do walk in the street. Will it be unsafe again? What should I tell them? When they come home, I realize that there is no need for me to tell; they already heard the news (God knows from where).

Millions of questions are asked: Mom, can it happen here? Who did it? Why? What do they want? Could you and daddy be hurt? Are we safe? I am doing my best not to lie and at the same time not to tell the truth, which is “I just don’t know.”

Another major difference is technology. Opening Facebook, I see many Jerusalemite friends who publish as their status a simple, “I am OK.” Others are sharing their experiences (someone who was there, someone who was hurt and so on…) and someone else is asking his FB friends, “Jerusalemites, please announce you are alive.” Apparently, we found the solution to the unreliable cell phones.

Unfortunately the major things haven’t changed. A week ago, a family was murdered with unheard cruelty; during the past 72 hours, more than 70 Kassam and Grad missiles were launched from Gaza by Hamas into Israel. School was canceled due to concerns for the safety of the children. A terror attack occurred in Jerusalem. The terror is back in our streets.

Will it ever end?

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