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An American's Bus Ride In Israel And A Lesson He'll Never Forget

In 2008 I was part of a Master degree class in Emergency and Disaster Management in NYC. Part of the curriculum was a month long trip to Israel to learn how the Israeli's practice the craft. Part of the curriculum included being bussed around Israel visiting trauma hospitals, being lectured by high ranking military officials on their experiences and what they learned through decades of brutal acts of sudden terror attacks, bombings and how the Israeli people always kept vigilant of what was going on in their surroundings. They did not look overly concerned or scared. So for us it was more an exercise in abstraction, for me and the rest of my classmates. That is until one day I was riding on the bus.

Now I have lived in New York City my entire life and taking a bus was as familiar and produced as much anxiety as tying my shoes. But this one day on this bus in Israel we had stopped for a light. As always I was looking out the window absentmindedly when I noticed a man starring intently at the bus. A chill ran up my spine "My God, imagine the coup this guy would make if he made his way on and detonated a bomb and not only committed an act of terrorism against Israel but killed a bunch of Americans in the process?". We were stopped for more than a minute, maybe it was the traffic light or maybe some traffic. Soon he turned a bit and saw me starring at him. He starred back. Neither of us would take our eyes from each other. He starred at me with a bit of a snarl on his face. I was frozen. Everything became silent. It felt like we were like that for hours. Finally the bus started to move and I was certain this guy was coming at us. It was a great relief to me to see the distance between us and him get wider and wider until he disappeared and I felt I could catch my breath.

We probably had 100 lectures another 50 exercises and a range activities that not only attempted to teach but have us feel what it was like to live under constant threat. But nothing brought home to me nor enabled me to empathize with the Israeli people than that man starring at me from across the street with that terrible look on his face.
It's been now 10 years and I still cannot forget it nor do I think I ever will. And thus I salute the Israeli people not only for facing this threat daily but facing it with fortitude and not letting they're enemies cower them and disrupt their everyday lives. Hopefully I'm saying this right "Hashem yevarech otha". 
And hello from New York City
No offense but those female IDF soldiers were beautiful!


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