Given that I am leading a trip to Israel and the West bank next summer, I’ve been watching the news about increasing violence in Jerusalem and other places with some concern.
But the fact that I have friends who live in these places, and can see what they post on Facebook, provides an interesting perspective on this.
For instance, one friend of mine who lives in Jerusalem mentioned that he heard a gunshot, in a way that gave the impression that this is not something routine for him.
Living in Indianapolis, I can say that hearing gunshots worries me too. But I hear them so regularly that I’ve had to learn to live with this.
A few months ago, President Obama contrasted the United States with other countries, including Israel. Gun attacks are 33 times more common in the US than in Israel.
There have been knife attacks in Israel recently, and I can’t say that those don’t make me worried about the safety of travelers who accompany me there. But rarely does a day pass when something similar or worse has not happened in my own city, never mind my own country.To be honest, what makes me nervous is that Israelis are responding to recent violence by buying guns. I am starting to worry, not that Israel will not be safe to visit, but that I will have to be as worried about being shot while there as I am on a daily basis in my own country.
And so it seems to me quite ironic that some Americans will see news from Israel and think it is becoming “unsafe.” What would it take to get Americans to realize that, people in other countries – including Israel – watching stories about shootings on campuses and in movie theaters in the United States will view this country as much less safe than their own?
What will it take to get us to see ourselves the way others see us, and to realize that if what we see on the news about them disturbs us, then what we see on the news about ourselves ought to make us take action to change our own society?