Apologies for the lack of updates. I’ve had barely any time to think, let alone write, during the jam-packed itinerary of the last 10 days. Taglit was a very mixed experience and I’ll be writing about it in detail as soon as I get a chance. For now, just a quick update to allay concerns:
I know a lot of friends and family are a little worried that I’m in Israel right now, since the conflict has escalated again and Operation Protective Edge started Tuesday. To be honest, I haven’t seen much of anything yet. My Taglit trip ended yesterday evening, and while we were supposed to be in Tel Aviv both Wednesday and Thursday, the organizers changed our itinerary after the rocket attacks started so we were off in Netanya and then Haifa, completely shielded from any possible risk.
In any case, I’m on my own now, since about 9 o’clock last night. I’ve checked into a hostel right by the beach in Tel Aviv, went to bed early-ish, and spent today doing laundry and mostly just relaxing — the farthest I’ve gone is a sandwich shop a few blocks away to grab some lunch.
I’m curious how the international media and news back home is portraying the situation here, or how it’s perceived. I can picture the sensationalized headlines, but the reality is that it seems pretty much like business as usual here. The beaches are packed, people are eating in sidewalk restaurants, I took the train and bus back from the airport last night and there was absolutely nothing noteworthy about the experience. It’s definitely not the scenario of people huddling in bomb shelters that I think some people are imagining.
There were several rockets intercepted over Tel Aviv at around 11 o’clock this morning. I was actually sitting outside on the balcony of my room and thought I heard a small boom, but it was so much less than I was expecting that I didn’t even know it was a rocket. It sounded like a truck going over a bump or something like that. The only thing that even made me look up was that all the birds flew up in the air and started scattering. I didn’t hear any siren beforehand, but a few others in the hostel did and it seems like most ran up to the roof to check it out rather than following the instructed protocol. A couple were telling anyone who would listen about how they saw the whole thing, rockets coming left and right and the Iron Dome intercepting each one. But it barely made a blip on my radar,and I only found out for sure it was a rocket several hours later. People were out on the street the whole time. The Israelis seem very blasé about all this, to be honest.
There was another little boom (identical in sound to this morning’s) just as I was writing that above paragraph. I’m sitting out on the roof now with a few others but there was definitely no siren this time and we couldn’t see anything, so the rocket(s) must have been quite far away. I know it probably sounds crazy to everyone back home, but I am mostly unconcerned at this point. The Iron Dome system is remarkably advanced and is doing a great job of intercepting the Hamas rockets. (I don’t even completely understand how it works so I won’t try to explain it, but this article is a great place to start if you’re curious.) I figure if the people who actually live here 24/7 aren’t freaking out, I shouldn’t be either.
I’m actually really happy to finally be on my own again. After the overprotective and insular environment of Taglit, I’m excited to finally be experiencing everyday Israel on my own, and that definitely outweighs any slight fear I have of the current violence. I feel pretty confident that I can gauge the tension and safety on some level, and if it starts to feel too dangerous, that’s when I’ll move on to Jordan. For now, I feel pretty safe here. As my father said when I talked to him on the phone a couple nights ago, I have a better chance of getting hit by a car and killed back in New York as I do of getting hit by a rocket here.
So I will leave you with this: