A Third Intifada


Sunrise over the Judean Mountains

I live in Jerusalem. Jerusalem, a city that invariably is a hot bed of activity. Where even when there is nothing going on in terms of the matzav (the situation), there is always something happening. Initially, I wanted to write something lighthearted on the differences between living in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, as I recently started a new job in Tel Aviv, but the last few days have changed my mind. As I’m sure you’ve heard, the past few weeks have been anything but quiet here, and in the last five days there has been an eruption of incidents in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. This past week Almog Shiloni was killed near a train station in Tel Aviv, Dahlia Lemkus was killed at a bus stop in Gush Etzion, and this week two terrorists entered a synagogue in Har Nof and killed five men and seriously wounded many more.

The media is calling this a third intifada. At first we were hesitant to call it that, but it is now becoming clearer. And this time the terrorists are using a new tactic, a tactic that is almost impossible to track.

When I lived in Jerusalem during the second intifada the method was suicide bombers. The IDF was able to track the suicide bombers and if any of them managed to get into Israel proper then they knew which area they were going to and would put out an alert. That’s how I knew to leave the German Colony right before Café Hillel blew up. An alert went out on the radio to say there was a suicide bomber in the area and to avoid public places. So I left… and five minutes later the café blew up.

It is not the same this time. This time there are random targets and terrorists who wake up in the morning, get in their car, and decide to run over Israelis, or stab someone to death, or beat them with a metal rod. As much as I would like to say that Israelis know how to deal with terror attacks, there is something different this time; something unexpected. How are we to know that the bus stop or train station that we are waiting at will not be the next target? I know that I am much more cautious now. Not afraid, as that would be just what the terrorists want, but cautious.

I live very close to the green line in Arnona, not more than five minutes from a few Arab neighborhoods in almost every direction. I hear the police sirens almost every night and have seen the pictures of houses in the neighborhood next to mine that have broken windows from rocks coming from Jabal Al-Mukkabar. The bus I take every morning to Tel Aviv drives right past this Arab neighborhood, normally quiet but now rife with hatred. And every morning I look out onto this neighborhood and hope that there won’t be rocks flying my way – even more so since the two terrorists from this week’s attack came from the same neighborhood. I don’t want to get into the politics of all of this as I know that everyone has a different opinion, but let me just say this – being an Israeli Minnesotan is a whole lot more complicated than being a Minnesotan Jew.

Ariela Lerman is originally from St. Paul and made aliyah in 2012. She currently works at a large Jewish nonprofit organization in resource development and runs her own gluten-free challah business – Challaluya.