Monday, April 17, 2006

Never the Same

Since moving to Israel three years ago, I've become accustomed to a lot of things. I'm used to bagging my own groceries, and having to request taxi meters to be put on, and checking the garbage dumpster for stray cats before I throw in my trash. The sight of people handling supermarket bread rolls that are exposed to the public no longer grosses me out -- well, not so much-- and I've come to accept that the locals can pronounce my Hebrew name but not my English one.

I'm used to opening my pocketbook or backpack to show the contents to guards in front of cafes. Walking through metal detectors on my way into malls doesn't faze me at all. I don't notice the soldiers and guns that are there to protect me, or the citizens who carry licensed firearms because they might need them to protect themselves. I hardly look twice at the bullet-proof windows on the intercity bus between my house and Beth's. And when I'm stuck in traffic because an intersection has been closed due to the finding of a "suspicious object," I sit back and wait patiently until a distant "boom" indicates that some kid's schoolbag has just been destroyed by a robot, and I go on with my day.

But I can't get used to the bombings. I can't become accustomed to knowing that there are people who lost today their spouse or their parents or their child. I can't get used to knowing that there are people who had four limbs this morning, but have fewer now.

I can't get used to thinking about the people who were eating a falafel one minute, and were on their way to the emergency room the next . . . not because of a traffic accident, or a fire, or some other tragic event that may have been preventable but was at worst a case of negligence . . . and not because they were involved in a bad crowd or were unfortunately associated with evil or troubled people . . . but because they happened to be eating a falafel in the wrong place at the wrong time, and there are people who hate us just that much.

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