I have a friend who doesn’t take buses.
Her parents don’t allow her to.

This shocks me on two levels (well, three if you include the fact that she still listens to her parents, but maybe my relationship with mine is just different). First, it’s that her parents somehow believe that by avoiding buses, her daughter will somehow be safer here. Statistically, however, you are much more likely to die getting a ride from someone than taking a bus, road accidents being one of the chief causes of death in Israel. Not terrorism, road accidents. You’re ten times more likely to die in an accident on the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv high way than on the 443, which people still avoid because it passes next to Arab villages. Sorry to be morbid, but that’s the truth. The decision to not take buses in Israel is nothing more than the illusion of safety and control.

But more importantly, I’m honestly a little shocked that it is still perceived as that kind of dangerous here. The intifada, for all intents and purposes, is over. The IDF and Israeli Intelligence have learned, sometimes regretfully, what kind of enemy we’re dealing with and how to stop them, and it more-or-less feels like peace time.

On top of that, I just want to point out that I feel immeasurably safer here than I ever did in urban America. I do not walk home at night with keys in hand in hand, frequently checking over my shoulder. Kids can run around virtually unsupervised, because everyone is watching out for them. If you lose your wallet in Jerusalem there is probably a higher chance you’ll get it back, money and credit cards intact, than any where else in the world (Jewish law placing great importance on returning a lost object). Reality is not what they put on the news when they need to fill 8 networks, 24 hours a day.

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Laya Millman

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