I went into Jerusalem the day before the race. In order to run you had to pick up your bag that had your number, chip, t-shirt, and other materials inside. To get all of these things you had to go to the Expo Center, which is across the street from the central bus station. In between these two buildings is the telephone booth that the bag with the bomb inside was placed just the day before. Miriam and I decided to make our way there.
At the central bus Station the feeling was calm. If you did not know then you would have had no idea that the terrible events of the day before had taken place. But where the bomb had exploded, you would know. There were multiple cameramen: and the Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox Jews) were standing around with signs, yelling (“Death to the Arabs!”) and protesting.
While I understand the need for a protest, the things these people were yelling were horrifying. This is not the situation of an eye for an eye, and it is disgusting to me that people would say such things.
There were cars constantly driving around with the signs on them as well, beeping and making as much commotion as they possibly could. Here is a video I took of the scene:
After I picked up my race supplies I made my way to a friend’s house who lives in Jerusalem. When I got there I couldn’t get to his house because there was a police car blocking the road. Of course there was a bag left on the side of the road and it had to be detonated. I called Vanessa, frustrated that I was on one side of the street, my friend was on the other, and I couldn’t get to him. But she told me how it’s ok, that this is just another experience that I can learn from and will make me understand the situation better. She also said how it was just one more thing to blog about – and so here I am writing about it. My friend ended up finding a shortcut and we went to his house not seeing the end of the situation. He told me not to worry, that after what’s been going on the security is extremely tight and anything seen will not be treated lightly.
I don’t want to only focus on the bomb in Jerusalem though. Down south rockets are consistently being fired into Israel. Fortunately so far they have only really damaged buildings and/or exploded into no-mans land. On Facebook there is a popular chain going around on people’s statuses that I think sums up the situation here in the past few weeks perfectly: “In the last 3 days over 70 missiles were fired into Israel. A bomb was strapped to a phone booth at a Jerusalem bus station, killing one and seriously injuring 30 others. Last week a Palestinian terrorist walked into the house of the Fogel family and murdered Rabbi Fogel, his wife and 3 of his 6 very young children with a kitchen knife. This has barely been given media coverage.”
With the tsunami in Japan, the protests in Libya, and the millions of other problems of the World, I understand that this situation may be placed on the back burner of American news. But please, open your eyes and read about what’s going on in the Middle East. So many things here are connected to other problems of the world, and I believe to truly understand the situation you need to stay informed and know what’s going on.
Much of the problem with Israel is that it’s a democracy, and thus people can say and do as much as they please. Yesterday when Vanessa and I were walking back to the central bus station to come back to Rehovot we passed a protest on the side of the road with people holding signs saying, “Stop the occupation!” I understand this point of view, do I agree with it? I still am conflicted. HOWEVER, after what had just happened the mere two days before, to be outside protesting with signs such as this? Despicable in my eyes. But I guess that comes with the territory of free speech.
The emotions running through me these past few days are something I have never experienced before when reading about Israel. I always felt connected here for obvious reasons, but not like the powerful connection I feel now. When I leave here in a few months I will know so many ex-Patriots and Israeli-born beautiful people that will continue to live in this commotion. This cause is so important to me, and I please ask to make it important to you. Israelis are amazing, and it’s not fair that they have to live this way. This country has never had complete freedom but all I ask is to be able to live at least one day of my life knowing that it will.