Selfies and shwarma – Tel Aviv takes terrorism in stride

Shaky routine returns day after Jaffa stabbing attack in which an American graduate student was murdered.

Police on seaside Tel Aviv-Jaffa promenade day after terror attack, March 9, 2016 (photo credit: BEN HARTMAN)
Police on seaside Tel Aviv-Jaffa promenade day after terror attack, March 9, 2016
(photo credit: BEN HARTMAN)
If the number of teenage girls taking selfies on the promenade is a barometer for how a city is coping the morning after a deadly terrorist attack, then it seems Tel Aviv will be alright.
The recently renovated promenade near the clock tower in Jaffa seemed basically the same as always the day after a terrorist from Kalkilya stabbed an American tourist to death and wounded 11 others, as long as you zoomed in close enough to miss the mounted policemen and Border Police officers with assault rifles patrolling at a leisurely pace.
There were dozens of teenagers on school trips making duck faces for selfies sharing the promenade with tour groups on Segways, American retirees, and the marginally employed beach people of Tel Aviv, none of whom appeared to have received the memo that the city was under attack.
Brothers Markus and Christian, aged 25 and 31, were plowing through some shwarma at the Haj Khalil restaurant at the clock tower at mid-day, and neither said they felt any reason to cut the trip short. Visiting Israel from Germany for a cross-country bike trip with their father and sister, they said the situation was sad, but as Markus put it, “It’s a weird feeling, but I wouldn’t say I’m afraid.”
They both ventured that a stabbing could also happen to them in Berlin, depending on where they were. They said their mother had written them Tuesday night after hearing about the attack and told them to be careful, but they didn’t seem overly concerned.
Or perhaps they were a bit concerned, but more worried about the pitfalls and terror of dealing with Israeli motorists while traversing the country on a bicycle.
A wife and husband from Elad named Golda and Meir (their actual names) were pushing a baby in a stroller on the promenade just steps away from two mounted cops on towering black steeds Wednesday morning.
Meir said they had some second thoughts about coming to Tel Aviv, but that “it’s not under our control what happens.
Besides, what are the odds there will be another attack today in the same exact place?” Golda did express surprise at the relative shortage of police elsewhere in Jaffa, but neither seemed to be in a hurry to vacate the area.
The cliché about Tel Aviv getting back to routine quickly after terrorist attacks is a well-worn cliché for good reason.
Besides the police strolling on the promenade and the cops that were checking motorists entering Jaffa from Tel Aviv, there was little sign that anything had happened here the night before.
Perhaps that’s why Frank and Nancy Kirkland, two retirees from Fort Worth, Texas, had no idea that there had been an attack the night before.
In town for a church trip across the region, they said they weren’t concerned being in Israel, which they added may be the safest branch of a trip that includes visits to Cairo and Istanbul.
“I’d venture there were more people killed last night in Texas by guns,” Nancy said, taking in the sea view.