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Terror in Tel Aviv

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10/16/2015

Terror in Tel Aviv photo

Magen David Adom paramedics arriving at the scene of an attempted stabbing in the Afula bus station, October 9, 2015. (Magen David Adom)

The first thing they tell you after a terror attack is not to give in to fear. You must continue to live your life as you have always lived it. Keep taking buses, keep going to class, grab that drink after work; don't let anyone know that you are afraid. Don't even admit to yourself that you are afraid. Acknowledge fear and the terrorists win.

Well, sorry to Israel and sorry to the Jewish People at large, but I am a little bit afraid.

There has been a lot of tension in Tel Aviv over the last week as random acts of terror have gotten closer and closer to our doorstep. But the only concrete example I could ever find of this increased wariness was the behavior of individuals riding the public buses. It was the slightest change -- just a few extra pairs of eyes raised from smartphones and newspapers to examine fellow passengers. To an outsider, people-watching on the bus wouldn't raise any alarms, but, to me, those glances said it all: When ordinarily bus-goers are glued to their phones, this tiny change meant that people were taking inventory, that they saw cause to be aware.

On Oct. 8, the city's unspoken concerns were realized. I was grabbing a coffee with some friends during our break from Hebrew class when I saw four or five police vehicles whizz by towards the center of the city. As the sound of the sirens faded, I and everyone around me knew exactly what had happened. There was another attack, but this time it was in Tel Aviv. Playing it cool, my friends and I laughed and made our way back to the yeshiva, walking just a little bit faster than we would usually walk. By the time we made it back to class, our phones were already buzzing with safety alerts.

Now things are quiet, but the widespread sense of concern/frustration is unmistakable. (The latter sentiment not aided by Bibi Netanyahu's increased media presence.) There's not much to do but go about life as usual, and so we will.

But I will not do so pretending that everything is okay. I will be vigilant. I will avoid protests and crowds because I want to be around to experience this great county and to bring my experiences home. I truly believe this is a country worth knowing and fighting for, so I will be careful, in order to be its advocate for years to come.

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