My Dad from the United States came to Israel recently. It was his first visit since I moved here. This was also his second visit to the country, the first being over 40 years ago. All he could remember was camels, pushing, and falafel. Since then, most of what he has read about Israel is war, intifada, and more war.
I wanted to give my Dad the best impression of the country. His first night in town, he, my boyfriend, and I walked along the Tel Aviv beach at sunset. My Dad smelled the smoke of mangal barbecues mixed with spray from the sea. We ate at a seafood restaurant while my Dad and boyfriend got to know each other. Life was good: good conversation, good food, and a view of the sea. This was Tel Aviv at its finest.
Photo by Thomas Rosbrow, my father.
However, I could not keep this up for long. The next day, as my Dad and I shared a frozen yogurt at the beach, he asked if I was scared for September? What were my plans if something happens?
This question reminded me of a story that I heard recently. An Israeli friend of mine had a surprising conversation with an American oleh friend. He told her that he was very concerned about the Iranian threat. He wanted to prepare for the worse, so he set up a fund through his bank that was "cash ready." This way, he could take out several thousand dollars in cash at one time. So if Israel was bombed by Iran, he could get the cash, go to the airport, and get on the first flight out.
His response puzzled her. She never thought this way about these situations. There are always threats to Israel''s security. Many don''t happen. Even with the current attacks going on in the South, violent clashes tend to be few and far between.
Ultimately, she had more of a "let''s wait and see" attitude. She figured that she didn''t need to think about the future until it actually happened.
Was the oleh too paranoid? Was my Israeli friend too relaxed? The reactions seemed culturally based. The United States can luxuriously assume that it will have a stable, predictable future. Israel cannot. However, considering the majority of media about Israel is war-related, Americans also have a distorted picture of Israel''s security.
So, I told my Dad I had a plan for September. But I doubted I would use it.