Boston: Jewish community on precautionary alert

Israel’s consul-general to Boston: “It took time to believe it was a bomb attack”; no Israeli injuries reported.

People comforting each other after Boston blast 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)
People comforting each other after Boston blast 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)
A bomb attack was the last thing on Consul-General Shai Bazak’s mind as he heard a loud noise Monday afternoon while his car drove by the Boston Marathon.
Israel’s consulate in the city had closed early in honor of Patriots Day, and Bazak was on his way to pick up his children from their pre-school and take them home.
The noise he heard did not appear to be threatening and his phone did not ring, as it might in a dangerous situation.
Many cellphones in the area lost reception, including his and his driver’s. His wife could not reach him, nor could the consulate’s security officer.
For a second, he said, his wife and the security officer were terrified. But the communication blackout lasted only a few moments before his cellphone rang and the consulate’s security officer told him that two bombs had exploded close to the race’s finish line.
“It took time to believe that it was a bomb attack,” he told The Jerusalem Post by phone.
“Boston is a very quiet and calm place, especially when we come from Israel with all its complex reality.”
All day, he said, he had watched young people outside his office window head to the marathon to enjoy a fun sporting event that at the last moment turned into a horrific tragedy.
At the time of the blasts, members of his staff had just left the consulate, located a short distance away from the finish line. None of them were injured or near the site of the explosions, he said.
His wife had thought of heading downtown to see the marathon, but luckily at the last moment had changed her mind.
Based largely on the consulate’s posting on social media sites, Bazak said, “We have not heard of any Israelis who were injured.”
In the hours following the attack, he added, he had been swamped with concerned phone calls – many coming from Israel – and emails from friends, colleagues and the Foreign Ministry.
“It is a weird feeling to be in Boston and to get worried phone calls from Israel asking if I’m fine,” he noted.
At present, police are still investigating the explosions and have not yet determined if it was a terror attack. Nor have they linked it in any way to any group or individual who might also want to target Jews or those connected to Israel, Bazak said.
Still, the Jewish community and the consulate are on alert and security has been increased, he said. “But it’s precautionary,” he added.
Should the Boston Marathon bombing prove to be a terror attack, it would be the first one on United States soil since the September 2011 attack on the Twin Towers in New York City, Bazak said.
Terrorists in 2011 also attacked the Pentagon in Washington and took over another plane before passengers and crew fought back, resulting in the crash of the aircraft in Pennsylvania.
The consulate, Bazak said, is scheduled to be open this week. It also still plans to hold its scheduled Independence Day event on Tuesday but it has changed its program from a celebration to one of solidarity with the victims of the bombing, Bazak said, with people speaking about the deep relationship between Boston and Israel.
“We will hold a moment of silence and say a prayer for the victims,” he said.