Wherever you live, would you walk half a mile at 3 o’clock in the morning?
I did it three times, and two of those times I did it alone.
Every time I go to Israel I am terrified the week before I leave. I am sure I will never see my dogs again. But then I arrive. And a funny thing happens. I am not only not scared; I am more comfortable and feel safer than I do here in the states.
I wouldn’t walk in downtown Akron for a half mile at 3am. I wouldn’t walk in Medina or Fairlawn. But I did it in Tel Aviv.
I am really not that brave or that stupid. I walked on a promenade between the beach and the very main road. Tel Aviv is a young city, a hipster city, and it is true that it never completely sleeps. On the hundreds of volleyball courts, you can find people playing 24/7 on one side of you, and traffic like it is 3pm on the other side of you.
My destination was a sports bar called Mike’s Place. Note: it was not called Chaim’s Place or Herzl’s Place, it was called Mike’s place. It showed all NBA play- off games, which might not seem like a big deal. But with Israel 7 hours ahead, the games begin at 3:30 am. The half mile walk was just a ten minute stroll in 80 degree weather. I felt safe.
I figured that when I got to Jerusalem I would feel less safe. Especially with the American embassy opening the very same week we would be there. But then I got there and I saw all of the activity on my hotel’s street. I ended up doing what I thought I would never do: walk alone in Jerusalem. Granted, I did at 9am not in the middle of the night. But I did it a week after the opening with the world’s eyes on this tinder box. I felt safe.
I suppose one reason I felt safe is the presence of IDF (the Israeli Defense Force) soldiers. I took pictures of them everywhere: sitting at cafes, saying goodbye to their moms after a Sabbath week-end, at the beach.
A policy that leads to higher security is that trash cans are completely clear so that the contents can easily be seen. If anyone would leave a package unattended, it is reported quickly and a bomb squad appears instantly.
I also imagine and am pretty darn sure that they knew more about me by the time I arrive in their country than my mom knows about me a few states away.
Is Israel safe? I am glad to say I am back home safely.