Israel looks a lot safer than many other places, when seen through the eyes of the Global Incident Map.
By DAVID SHAMAH
Now that the election in the US is over, we're gearing up for our own poll - and as usual, security weighs heavily for local voters. Israelis feel that we're at the epicenter of world terror - that nowhere else in the world is as dangerous, except for Iraq, Africa and a few other places you wouldn't want to live anyway. There's always something to worry about here, the conventional wisdom says.
But on one day recently, Israel looked a lot safer than many other places, when seen through the eyes of the Global Incident Map (http://www.globalincidentmap.com/map.php). The GIM takes stock of what have come to be known as "security incidents" - bombings, bomb and terror threats, terrorist activities/arrests, biological/environmental/radiation incidents, anarchist activity, etc. - around the world. The site grabs the data from Google News and displays it on the map, with each type of incident represented by a specific icon, located on the country where the incident took place.
And, on the day I looked at the map, there was indeed a "kidnapping alert" in Jerusalem. A quick search for "kidnapping Jerusalem" at http://news.google.com indicated that incident referred to a story at the Jpost.com site with the headline "Israeli captured in Ghana escapes." Not exactly a kidnapping in Jerusalem, but you could see how they came up with that.
Meanwhile, on that day in the US, there were nine "biological incidents/threats/ anthrax hoaxes," six "bomb incidents/explosives/hoaxes," two "railway/train station" alerts, one "anarchist action alert," one "assassination attempt" and 10 "other suspicious activities." Clicking on the icons tells you the type of incident and its location; if you register (individual subscriptions cost $99 a year) you can click directly on a link in the info box that takes you to the appropriate articles, but you can get the same results for free by Googling the name of the place and type of incident.
Of course, the US is a lot bigger than Israel, but checking out the stories behind the alerts was eye opening: Bomb threats in Florida, Oregon, Arkansas - and an actual bomb in El Paso, Texas. It was the same in Europe and Asia - stuff is happening all over. Not that we don't have our own troubles, but we - and they - are in this together, it seems.
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