Jewish Journal

A heart to heart letter from an Israeli to Americans

by Noga Gur-Arieh

April 19, 2013 | 12:02 pm

Dear Americans,

What you've dealt with this week is not new to me, I'm afraid. In fact, it is something I almost got used to. Why almost? Because no matter how many times you hear about an "event" on the news, no matter how many times you call all your friends and family to make sure they're alive and well, this feeling still takes you off balance.

We've been following the Boston bombing here every day. Newspapers, websites and news broadcasts gave us updates, and even from afar, we were there with you, wishing you well, and grieving with the families who lost their loved ones just like that, out of the blue, in one second that changed everything.

I know this feeling. I've spent too many years of my life carrying this feeling. The uncertainty, the fear, the shock. That moment when you sit at home, or at school or at work, and suddenly feel that something has happened. At first, you notice a strange look of shock on people's faces, as they face their laptop or Smartphone. Then, you hear the whispering around you, saying "Something's happened."  No need to add more words to that sentence to understand exactly what this "something" is. The next step is to figure out where and what. You just sit in front of the screen and refresh the page until the news website you're at will upload more details. At that moment, you don't speak, hardly breath, and just sit nervous on your chair, bouncing your feet and looking sideways to see if someone knows something.

Then, you see it: "A bus exploded in Tel-Aviv," and then, the scariest part begins. It is when you try to call everyone you know to make sure they are alive and well. You start with people you know live close by to the "event's" location. Then, you zoom out, because maybe someone you know and love and have a car, decided to take a bus that day for god knows why. You don't seek for logic, you just want to know everyone's okay. Then, in the middle of the calling list, the phone lines fall, because everyone else in the country is also making the very same type of calls.  It happens almost every time, and you know it's coming, but when it does, and you can't reach someone, you can never be sure if it is because of the lines that just fell or because he or she was there.

It's scary. These two or three minutes that last forever. It's scary even in the 20th time it happens, because the fear of losing someone you love to terror is something you can never get used to. I spent my entire childhood like that and went through that experience a few more times later, the last one being only a few of months ago, when a bus exploded in Tel-Aviv. I remember that time clearly. I was having lunch on campus at Tel-Aviv University, laughing with my friends, when the whispering started. I especially remember seeing my friend, who lives in Tel-Aviv, going back and forth across the patio we were sitting in, trying to reach people before the lines will fall. I also remember receiving a call from my mother, half an hour later, when for 30 minutes we could not reach each other because of the busy lines.

This experience of uncertainty, of fear from the possibility of a next time, of the shock and the worrying that threatens to stop your heart from beating-all feelings I am familiar with, and could never get used to. You went through this several days ago, and even though I was miles and miles away, I felt your fear and shock and uncertainty. . I know I've been through more than enough of experiences of such, but I still can't even begin to fully understand what you went through, how you felt, and what went through your minds, because each one of us experiences it differently.  All I can say now is that I pray that you will never feel those feelings again, and that "events" of such will never become a routine part of your life.

Ideology, despair, boredom- the reason doesn't matter. All that matters is the result: the anxiety and the pain. One country that goes through this on a weekly basis is more than enough to this world, and even this is one country too much. I hope your loved ones are well. May God be with you, and may hate will vanish from this world before the next time.

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My name is Noga Gur-Arieh, and I’m an Israeli Journalist, currently studying for my B.A degree in Media and Political Science, at Tel Aviv University.

I am very socially...

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