This past winter break, I was sitting in a conference room in the Old City of Jerusalem with a group of people, listening intently to a speaker. Suddenly, I heard a boom outside. Everyone froze. Chills began to run down my spine.

Could it be? Is it possible? My mind began dashing from thought to thought- could I really be so close to a terrorist attack? Did a genocide bomber really strike within yards of where I was?

A tense 30 seconds passed. Then the rain began to fall, and with its increasingly frequent tapping on the roof, a very audible sigh of relief was heard from everyone in the room. Smiles broke out, and the lecture continued.

As an American Jew, I always hear about what happens in Israel, the multitude of endless terror attacks that are still occurring throughout Israel. However, I never thought it was possible that I could be literally right next to one.

After this incident, I had a new understanding of what types of issues Israelis are forced to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Had I heard the boom in the United States, I would have immediately assumed it was thunder, and gone about my business. In Israel the people are constantly forced to deal with the effects of terrorism in every facet of society.

The effects of terrorism hit home not only emotionally but also economically. For example, one day while in Israel I journeyed over to Ben Yehuda Street, the most popular and well known shopping district in Jerusalem, comparable to Fifth Avenue of New York City. What did I see? Emptiness and shops going out of business. When I had been there a mere three years earlier, the area had been bustling with people and action. After a bombing of a Sbarro’s Pizzeria, among other shops in the area, tourists are afraid to go shopping there, and the shop owners are desperate for business.

When I went into a T-shirt store, I asked for a better price on a T-shirt. Three years ago, before the most recent wave of terror attacks, the shop owner would most likely have given me a lower price. Instead, the woman behind the counter looked back at me with cold, pleading eyes and responded that she simply could not give me a better price. Every shekel means the world to these shop owners, who are struggling to make a living.

I would like to share one of the many uplifting experiences I had during my stay in Israel. One of these experiences came when I had the privilege to hear Sherry Mandel speak. Sherry Mandel and her family moved from the United States to Israel about five years ago, and on May 9, 2001, her son, Kobe, who was in eighth grade, was violently and brutally murdered by Palestinians when he wandered out of his village with a friend to go hiking.

After she shared her experiences with us and discussed how she was grieving, somebody asked her how she feels about the people who committed this heinous crime against her. She responded simply that she does not hate the Palestinian people, and all she wants is peace. What is so special is that Sherry Mandel’s mentality is commonplace in Israel. It is admirable that a people who are so viciously and systematically attacked and murdered still seek peace.

Sherry Mandel’s statement is so vital in the Israeli-Arab conflict. It highlights the core difference between Israel and her attackers: Israel wants peace, and only peace. After endless terror attacks, the first and fundamental step to peace is for the Palestinian leadership to call for and actually stop all terror attacks. The Palestinian leadership needs to stop acting in front of the media as if it wants peace and then continues to let its known and identified terrorists roam the streets and continue to plan and carry out violent and deadly attacks against Israelis. How can Israel be expected to negotiate a deal when its people are being slaughtered on a daily basis? As Americans and supporters of democracy and free speech, we need to ask ourselves, will we allow terrorism to be used as a negotiating tool?

Adelsky is an LSA freshman.

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