Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Combating Fear

Last week when I was wandering alone on the dark, stone lanes of Old Jerusalem, or in a conservative Istanbul neighborhood, I didn't feel courageous. But several people very close to me have admired my courage for going to both places. I wasn't courageous, or foolish. Journalists in Gaza, Israeli soldiers in Gaza, those who choose to live in Gaza -- that's courage. It's just that we are so isolated in America, it's easy to get sucked into the never-ending headlines without juxtaposing them with the everyday reality beyond Gaza's rockets. Consider these headlines from recent days: From Turkey, "More Arrested in alleged plot by Turkish ultranationalists to bring down the Islamic-rooted government." (Wall Street Journal) Turkish fighter jets danced over Greek territory. As for Israel: Gaza rockets have gotten within 20 miles of Tel Aviv, warning sirens went off in Jerusalem Wednesday (erroneously, says the Jerusalem Post) and the Palestinian death toll is approaching 1,000. But even in a "dangerous" place, and I wouldn't call Istanbul or even Jerusalem that, everyday life goes on. I definitely was scared when I arrived in Jerusalem because there were things on fire in the street. But at the wedding in Tel Aviv, there wasn't any security. Four of us got lost and entered the celebration through the kitchen without question. The bottom line is we can't live in constant fear of isolated terrorism, even if, today, Osama Bin Laden is urging a holy war over Gaza. I'm glad I am home. Then again, the New York Times suggests moving to Istanbul: look what $800,000 buys!

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