Boston, Israel and resilience

The scenes were all too familiar. As a reporter in Israel over the past decade, I have covered too many terrorist attacks,

Boston blasts police 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Boston blasts police 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
BOSTON – On Monday afternoon, my wife, Chaya, and I had plans to attend an Independence Day celebration at a synagogue in a suburb near Boston.
But when the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon finish line, I felt compelled to go downtown to see the aftermath. Together with two other fellows from my program at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, we walked along the route of the race and spoke with some of the stunned runners, still roaming the streets in search of loved ones and belongings.
The streets were still mostly blocked off, littered with empty water bottles and thousands of the shiny thermal blankets handed out to runners after they cross the finish line. I saw a pink pair of running shoes left on the side of a street, leaning up against a light pole.
Police bomb sappers were directing us away from a nearby building. Someone had found a backpack in a garbage bin. They had to rule out another bomb.
The scenes were all too familiar. As a reporter in Israel over the past decade, I have covered too many terrorist attacks – bus bombings, shooting attacks, explosions at random cafes and restaurants.
At the same time that the bombs went off in Boston, Israelis were filling the streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other cities and towns across the country celebrating 65 years of independence. Had we been home, we would have been celebrating as well, probably with the kids waiting for the fireworks show. But we were here in Boston, where Chaya had taken two of the kids to watch the marathon just a few miles from the target of the attack.
Walking near the finish line at Copley Square, I was impressed by this city’s fortitude and resolve to press forward, move on and not to stop running. Terrorism, people told me, would not stop this vibrant city or its people “We will run again,” declared Lynne, a nurse who had been stationed near the finish line and had treated some of the wounded.
That is a message we Israelis know well. I am often asked how Israelis can sit in coffee shops in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem when rockets are landing in the South. How can people board a bus down the block from another bus that had just been blown up by a suicide bomber?
I think the answer mostly has to do with one word – resilience. In my 20 years in Israel, I have always been impressed by the people’s resilience. It is that resilience that I believe has helped Israel not just move forward but also thrive for 65 years in the face of wide-ranging threats.
Today, Boston needs to be resilient. I am confident it will know how.