'It wont break us'

Travelers take strike news in stride.

For Tali Lipschitz, a Jewish Agency for Israel representative in the San Francisco area and the head of a current teen summer tour program in Israel, the threat of a general strike - which could possibly close down the airport and prevent the group of 126 16-year-olds from returning home on schedule - pales in comparison to the war zone she found herself in during an identical mission last summer. "We were here last year when the war broke out and we managed to survive it," said the shlicha and director of education and teen trips for the East Bay Community Federation in an interview Tuesday, adding, "This strike will not break us." If Lipschitz and her team of seven American counselors, three tour guides and three medics are forced to rearrange the flights, it could become a logistical nightmare. "Our local provider - the Israel Experience - has already said it will take care of the accommodation, but we also have to find out how to reschedule all the connecting flights to the West coast and if we do not fly as scheduled on Thursday night, we'll have to stay here for an extra weekend because of Shabbat," continued Lipschitz, adding that this would involve three more days of planning to keep the teens occupied. Lipschitz said she just wanted to be sure the teens in her group did not end their experience in Israel on a sour note. She added that a contact person in the US had already started notifying the children's parents that their return might be delayed. "I really don't think this will taint people's views of Israel," reflected Lipschitz. "We were here during the war last summer, and we still managed to have many people sign their children up for this year's trip. A strike won't prevent parents from sending their kids, they understand that it's a [circumstance] beyond our control." Israelis scheduled to leave the country in the next few days for their annual vacations, however, saw the impending strike in a slightly different light. "I am just praying that the airlines will be left out of this strike," said Rachel Tal, an immigrant from the US who now lives in Jerusalem and is set to be married in September. "The invitations for my wedding are supposed to leave on a flight Wednesday afternoon. I paid extra for them to have a special delivery to the US because they need to be addressed and mailed out by the first week of August." "I'm all for people getting the salary they deserve," commented another Jerusalem-area resident, who is not only scheduled to travel to the US with her husband and three children on Friday but is also anxious about whether her husband will be able to return on Thursday morning from a business trip abroad. "I'm trying not to think about it, I just have to believe that it will all be all right," she told the Post. "If he doesn't get back in time, I might have to travel to the US on my own with three children under seven and that will be a complete nightmare."