I don't remember a time when you weren't asked to open your purse or the trunk of your car when entering a mall. I do remember a series of suicide bombers that exploded themselves in restaurants and the resulting order from the Ministry of Defense that security guards be placed at the doors of all restaurants beyond a certain size.
A few nights ago, we went out to eat in the center of...well, a city in Israel with friends that had come to visit from abroad. The area looked like any open, free space in any number of cities around the world and around Israel. Shops and shoppers. And on the sides were cafes with tables set outside to tempt the weary shopper to take a break and rest, order a cold drink or dinner. It was so European, so Israeli, so scary for me.
The tables were full outside, hundreds of shoppers, including Arab families, window shopped. I found myself listening for trouble - shouts or worse, a boom. There were no security guards there - the first time I had seen this in at least 15 years, if not more.
I entered with my husband and my youngest daughter, meeting these friends and others. We sat and ate slowly, enjoying the chance to catch up on the past few years...sadly, who died, happily, who got engaged, married, born. I showed pictures from Elie's wedding, and Shmulik's before that I showed the pictures of my grandson I'm not allowed to put on the Internet, and when we finished, we left, happy to know this family will be coming back in October and we'll see them again soon.
As I left, it struck me again - no security. I looked all around, even further down the block. Nothing.
Now someone has left me a comment - asking if I've noticed the lack of security at a major location in Israel where thousands pass each day, tens of thousands more likely. I'm stuck. Do I approve the comment and let the world know this place is now unprotected.
Not unprotected, Elie assures me, protected differently. Yes, differently - but we won't know if it is more effect until something blows up, will we? I won't say the measures that Elie detailed, just as I won't identify the location. Whenever I passed this place, I noticed long lines waiting to enter; I have often been deterred simply by the lines. Now, there will be no lines to the benefit of the stores who want people to enter, to the benefit of the people, who will get inside, But at what risk? Doesn't this also benefit the terrorist who can now get inside to a more concentrated, enclosed area.
If you've lived here long enough, you understand that an explosion set off inside a bus will kill more than one set off near it; that an explosion set off inside the cafe will result in more deaths than if the security guard catches the terrorist outside. Security guards have died this way; people inside sometimes (often) survived.
I'm afraid to put the comment through - how silly, I think to myself. Do I really believe Hamas is reading my blog? Islamic Jihad? If this place is where they will target, do they really have to read my blog to now know it is vulnerable? If it is vulnerable. How silly and arrogant that would be for me to believe that they are reading it.
If I put the comment through - perhaps it would shake those responsible for this decision. But again, that would be arrogance to assume the Ministry of Defense was reading my blog. And yet, the comment names a specific location and what security measures have been removed.
In August, 2001, there were no security guards at the entrance to the Sbarro Pizzeria in the heart of Jerusalem. Two Palestinians - Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri and Ahlam Tamimi made their way through a checkpoint. Al-Masri was carrying explosives in a guitar case, Ahlam Tamimi flirted her way across the checkpoint providing cover and distraction (she also was one of the main operatives in choosing the location). Fifteen people died that day - including 8 children. Ahlam Tamimi - may she be cursed all the days of her life and may it be filled with the agony of death and suffering akin to what she has caused - in this life and in the next - Tamimi was released as part of the exchange of 1,027 terrorists for Gilad Shalit.
As for the comment that triggered this post, I'm afraid that in August 2012, a situation in which there are no guards may well return us to the terror attacks of August, 2001. Maybe I'm wrong - here's hoping. But I'm sorry to Anonymous who posted the comment...I just don't want to post it. So to answer - yes, I know they've removed the security there and yes, I know it is for budgetary reasons and yes, I know they are implementing other security measures that they believe/hope will be just as effective.
And God, I pray they are right.