Daily lives and Palestinian Terrorism

Ha'Aretz has a good article on how some Israelis are coping with the current wave of Palestinian terrorism.

"Avoiding buses and malls, reading a book, keeping the children at home, pampering oneself with new appliances and binging on sweets - these are all ways in which Israelis are coping with the trauma of the home-front war."

The article covers how a few Israelis are reacting to the latest Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians. Many choose not to go to public places, including restaurants and malls, in fear of meeting a Palestinian homicide/suicide bomber willing to blow him/herself up and kill everyone around him/her.

I copy the full article below.

The age of anxiety
By Aviva Lori

Avoiding buses and malls, reading a book, keeping the children at home, pampering oneself with new appliances and binging on sweets - these are all ways in which Israelis are coping with the trauma of the home-front war.

"The main thing is not to sit by the entrance, next to the door," says Ben Narubai, a third-year student of industrial design, "and even better is not to leave the house at all. I am not hysterical, but since the terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, which happened a hundred meters from where I live, I have hardly gone out. I visit friends, friends visit me, we drink beer or we go to small, inconspicuous places. Before the suicide attack on Allenby Street, I used to go to all the hottest places in town.

"I have a friend who likes to frequent Shesek, a pub on Lillienblum Street. I asked him how come he is still going there. He said, `because all they have is a door, there are no glass walls, and I sit inside, so if a terrorist comes, by the time he reaches me, I will be able to get away.' As far as I am concerned, going out to any public place is not on the agenda since the attack on Allenby Street. I don't go to restaurants and I don't sit outside in cafes. Mostly I stay home and watch television."

Narubai, 26, is one of many whose routine way of life, once taken for granted, has evaporated. At first it was like a bad dream, but after a year and half of intifada and a few consecutive weeks of terrorist attacks, when the nightmare became painful reality and the recent reality seemed to turn into an unreal fantasy, Narubai has started to look for alternatives. His current life is very consciously planned and demarcated within the boundaries of the new semantics: before and now - before the terrorist attacks and now, after them.

"Before, on the way home, I used to drive between the stalls at the end of the Carmel Market. Now I don't go that way," he says. "I don't take any kind of risks. Before I used to drive without thinking, but now, if I find myself between two buses, I suddenly tell myself that I could be blown up. Not long ago I was thinking what life was like before the intifada, how I would go around Tel Aviv happy as a lark, sit in pubs until four in the morning, drink, get a bit high, not caring about a thing, and then go home and pick up some bourekas on the way. I don't do that anymore these days. All the freedom and fun of this city are gone. When I go outside now the idea is to spend as little time as possible there and get home as fast as I can."

Home has become the castle and haven for many Israelis of all ages and in many places. Some of them are not ashamed to admit to a dramatic rise in their private fear quotient. If in the Gulf War there was an unwritten agreement between the home front and Saddam Hussein that the Scud missiles would be launched only after dark, thus making it relatively safe to be outside during the daylight hours, now there is no such certainty. The whole country has become a high-risk zone and wherever you go, you find people who feel confused, disoriented and helpless, people whose lives - and the lives of their loved ones - seem to have lurched out of control.

In the absence of clear instructions, the home front is waging its own private war of survival. Among the many people who were interviewed for this article, the women reported anxieties and fears, along with significant changes in the way they and their families conduct their lives. The men, in contrast, reported a variety of reactions. Some said they are not afraid and have not made any changes in their routine. One said that he is afraid, but nevertheless is continuing to follow his normal routine. Another said he is afraid, but because of his children. One man spoke of a certain level of anxiety that he has been able to conceal from those in his immediate surroundings. Only two men confirmed without reservations that they fear the worst and have changed their way of life considerably. Welcome to the land of "before" and "now." Here's what others are doing and avoiding to cope with the "situation."

Batya Kafri

Dr. Batya Kafri, a skin doctor from Kfar Sava, says that the events are dictating her life. "I haven't been in the Arim shopping mall - a completely open place - for three or four months, because no matter how many security guards they station there, you can never be sure. I would feel stupid if something happened to me because of a blouse I wanted to buy, so I am restraining myself now and not buying clothes. I also don't go to open restaurants and I don't let the children go either. I'm not sure that they listen to me, but I see that they are at home a lot or go to their friends' homes.

"We are also at home more. Kfar Sava is on the `seam line' [the 1967 Green Line], and that really scares me. The worst thing is the traffic jams in the morning. If I get stuck in a traffic jam at Morasha Junction, I get really frightened. The children think the same thing. Yair [her husband, 31] goes to Tel Aviv every morning and he says that the traffic jams are a death trap."

What do you think about?

Kafri: "Lately? Only terrorist attacks."

And if they continue for a long time yet?

"We will go abroad more. That is how we clear our heads. Not to hotels or guest houses in Israel, because there is no place that seems to me to be safe. Only abroad."

Sharon Cahn

Sharon Cahn, 33, an interior designer from Tel Aviv, tries to confuse the potential suicide bomber by switching routes on the way home and calculating the best times of day for going out.

"My regular way home goes by Dizengoff Center. I can still see and remember the terrorist attack there - I was not far away, on King George Street, at the time. Lately I have been looking for bypass routes. I don't go that way anymore, but if I have to, I keep an eye on the time. I won't go by there at 9 A.M. or in the late afternoon. I also stay away from the Azrieli Towers, and if I find myself there because there is no other alternative, I curse myself.

"There are moments when I feel real pressure and anxiety, especially when soldiers leave the Kirya [Defense Ministry compound] - maybe there will be an attack on a bus right then, or at a crosswalk. We also go out a lot less these days. I used to spend a lot of time at the Tam Cafe on Gordon Street, but now at most I go to a girlfriend's place for a cup of coffee. We used to go out a lot, drink wine, go to movies, but lately we have accustomed ourselves to working hard in the evenings, so we have a good excuse for not leaving the house.

"Shopping? If I feel an absolute urge to buy fabric in Nahalat Binyamin, I calculate when it's best to go and how to get there. If there is a long line in the post office, I get nervous and frustrated and I start checking out the people in the line. Lines at movie theaters make me uptight. If I am driving behind a bus, the thought always enters my head. I don't remember ever being behind a bus without feeling a certain tension."

Esther Sofer

Esther Sofer, a social worker in the Jerusalem Municipality, thinks that one of the safest places in the country these days is the Nahalat Binyamin neighborhood in Tel Aviv. That's where she flees to whenever Jerusalem becomes too oppressive. Sofer, too, does many calculations with regard to her routine and does only what is absolutely necessary. She doesn't travel by bus and she avoids the city center.

"I don't go to [the outdoor] Mahane Yehuda market and I don't let my husband go, either. I have been in the vicinity of two terrorist attacks there and I felt as if I had rubbed up against death. I try not to go to the Malha shopping mall - there haven't been any terrorist attacks there, but we know that there have been attempts - unless I absolutely have to. The only movie theater we go to is the one in Binyanei Ha'ooma [Jerusalem Convention Center], because there is very strict security there - but I don't do it with any great pleasure.

"I used to meet a lot with girlfriends in cafes, but just now I have arranged to meet with a friend at home. On Saturdays we used to hike around Jerusalem but now I don't go to those places anymore. Our whole life has changed consciously and deliberately. One day I went to Hillel Street downtown for a meeting with my lawyer. I got there half an hour early and sat in a cafe and automatically ordered coffee, when suddenly my whole body started to tremble - I couldn't sit there. I asked for the coffee to go and I drank it as I walked."

Edith Yaaron Rothgoltz

Last Passover, Edith Yaaron Rothgoltz, from the neighborhood of Ma'oz Aviv near Tel Aviv University, a director in a public relations firm, changed the routine of recent years and stayed at home with her two children, Yotam and Evyatar, aged 13 and 10. "There was never a Passover when we didn't go somewhere with the children, to a B&B or to a hotel, and go hiking. If we didn't go up north, we went to the amusement park or to a museum," she says.

"But this last Passover, we didn't leave the house. We made plans, we said we would go to three or four places in the vicinity, but we ended up not going anywhere. I noticed that lately, my general anxiety level has increased. I can definitely develop heart palpitations when Yotam goes to the library in Hadar Yosef, where he always used to go without any fear."

How do you deal with the situation?

Rothgoltz: "I make friends with the fears. Strangely, in the shopping malls, I feel safe the moment I get past the entrance. I also still go to the beach. On the other hand, I have completely stopped watching the news on television. I can't take it anymore, I don't read the news section of the paper anymore, either. I have developed control mechanisms lately. I do constant inventories - where everyone in the family is at that moment - and then I calm down and keep going. The children are upset that we don't go out with them so much now, but at least they read more books, watch more videos and play computer games."

Corrine Amsalam

Corrine Amsalam, 33, is an architect and a new immigrant from France. She lives in Givatayim and works in an office in Ramat Hasharon, two suburbs of Tel Aviv. She has two small children, twins, and every time she leaves the house, she feels mentally stressed and oppressed. She hardly ever leaves the house with the children.

"One day I had to change a pair of sunglasses that my husband bought me at the shopping mall in the Azrieli Towers. I went there, looked at the towers, and suddenly thought that someone could smash into them with a plane, but that seemed ridiculous, so I kept driving, and then I suddenly thought of a terrorist attack. I turned around and went home. During Passover I didn't go anywhere with the kids. We went from the house to the neighborhood park and back. I was really scared. I was fretful.

"We have been here four-and-a-half years. When we came there was terrorist pressure, too, but it did not reach the level we have now. Maybe it's because we have small children now. Since the terrorism started we usually stay home. We eat more, cook more, put on weight, speak more on the telephone, watch television. A girlfriend invited me to go out with her to a restaurant and I answered jokingly, `Only to a restaurant where you don't get blown up.' In the end we called it off. I was very scared."

Pini Zilber

For Pini Zilber, owner of the Out Cafe in Nahalat Binyamin, people's fears are translated into terms of profit and loss. To minimize the damage and induce the regulars to return, Zilber launched a private initiative. He organized a group of 120 restaurateurs and cafe owners from the center of Tel Aviv who feel that they have to do something about the situation. "In the middle of the week, there are days that are totally dead. Maybe 30 or 40 people come and go, compared with a hundred an evening and 300 on Fridays and Saturdays before the terrorist attacks. And it's not only in my place, it's the same everywhere in Tel Aviv," he says.

Zilber cites statistics to reinforce his argument: "No one wants to die in a traffic accident, yet people leave their homes and get into their car and drive. There is far less probability that you will be killed in an explosion than in a traffic accident on the way here. So let's put things back into proportion and drop the panic, otherwise we are all going to collapse here in Tel Aviv like a house of cards. I personally go out, travel in taxis and go to shopping malls."

And you're not afraid?

Zilber: "Obviously, when I enter a mall or when I walk down the street, I instinctively take a very good look at everyone who passes me, but I will not stay at home because of that. I don't think staying at home will help. If something has to happen, it will happen."

Michal and Yael

Michal Bernholtz, 17, and Yael Lotam, 16, are high-school students in Herzliya. They are opinionated adolescents who have internalized the fears and are aware that the adults are helpless to protect them and to organize the new reality for them.

Michal: "When it comes right down to it, I will go to those places only if there is a security guard. It's scary for me now to wander around Sheinkin Street and places like that. I'm even afraid to go to the kiosk next to my house."

Yael: "Once I had a leftist ideology, but now I don't care so much, I just want to have a normal life. I am usually relaxed, but suddenly taking the bus has made me edgy. One day, I went by bus to Tel Aviv to see a play and on the bus I was really uptight and afraid."

Michal: "We were at the Central Bus Station in Herzliya, waiting for the No. 501 bus, and there was this guy there holding a big bag. We got really frightened. We told ourselves we have the right to be paranoid in our country and we called the police, but no one answered. So we went up to the supervisor's office in the bus station and they laughed at us. The guy there said we should come with him and show him the man, but just then he boarded a bus and left. We got on the next bus, which made us happy. I was never afraid of anything, I always did everything. I told myself it would never happen to me, but now I walk around afraid because it is happening everywhere."

Yael: "I am really anxious. It's affecting my life. I dream about it at night. After the attack in Kfar Sava, I felt unsafe even in my surroundings. At Passover a lot of things I had planned were canceled. I was supposed to go to Lake Kinneret and that was canceled, then there was supposed to be a show at the Barbie Club in Tel Aviv and that got canceled, too. The attack on Allenby Street struck my life directly, because I know people who are regulars in the cafe where it happened. It's like it infiltrated my private territory. Now there are a lot of places I don't go to and a lot of things I don't do. The scariest thing is the bus, not so much because I think it will happen to me, but because I think it will hurt me psychologically in the long run."

Ibrahim Agabriya

Ibrahim Agabriya, 38, an Arab citizen of Israel from the village of Musmus, located in Wadi Ara near Umm al-Fahm, understands very well what Michal and Yael went through at the bus station in Herzliya. He experiences it every day in the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv. Agabriya, a social worker, currently lives with his wife and their one-year-old son in Jaffa, and works in Beit Noam, a hostel for violent men in Ra'anana. Since the onset of the intifada, he has been twice as vulnerable to terrorist attacks: At the collective level, he is just as fearful as everyone else, while at the personal level, he is afraid of Israelis with a light trigger finger who might be out for revenge.

"These days I am a big watcher of television, to keep up with the news and current events, which I didn't use to do before. I watch fewer Israeli stations and more Al-Jazeera and Abu Dhabi. If I happen to go through the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, I am very surprised if I am not stopped and questioned, made to show my ID card and have my briefcase examined. I am usually very polite with them I don't get uppity, because I know it can get violent, but it's not pleasant and I try not to go through there.

"Generally we go out less to public places like shopping malls. We stay home more both because of the intifada and because of my personal problem - that I get stopped more on the street. I talk less about the situation with Jews. I don't get into political arguments with them. I know where to draw the line and allow myself to talk only about the shared pain. I don't start blaming Israel or the Palestinians. I cut off my personal life from what is going on outside. I live in a bubble."

Debbie Yaffe

Debbie Yaffe, 32, from Jerusalem, whose occupation is holistic medicine, also lives in a bubble, in which she walks on the narrow edge of life here. If it were up to her alone, she would have long since gone back to her native city of St. Louis, Missouri. She came to Israel 12 years ago in the belief than Jerusalem was the most beautiful city in the world. She married an Israeli and they have three children (aged 9, 7 and 4), but since the intifada erupted, she has been very restless.

"I do only what I have to do and I don't go to public places. If I have to go to town or to a mall, I do everything possible not to take the children and I only go when I absolutely have to. I try to collect a few errands to do at once, I go quickly and come back, without any pleasure. It's all very planned. On Independence Day, to avoid going to our local community center in East Talpiot, we went with the children to the Negev and slept in a Bedouin tent. Luckily the children are small and don't go out by themselves."

Yaffe's family in the United States is worried: "Almost every day I get a call from someone in the family in America," she says. "They want to know about my plans for coming back. It's reached the stage where they can't understand what I am doing here, and I feel that they are accusing me of irresponsibility as a mother: how can I allow myself to raise children here when I have a quiet, orderly place waiting for me. I am under a lot of mental pressure. Once we used to go to cafes, to restaurants, to movies, but now nothing - only to friends. I am afraid to go to the supermarket, and especially of waiting in line at the entrance.

"A good friend told me yesterday that she went to a government office to arrange something and there was a line for a security check at the door. There were pregnant Arab women there, and with all the thoughts that started going through her mind, my friend just broke into tears under the pressure. I don't see how I can hold out here much longer. This is no way to live."

Alona Zamir

Alona Zamir from Tzur Yigal is buying videos, creative games and workbooks for her children (5 and 2) these days, and not openly because she is the PR person for Steimatzky's national chain of bookstores. It's to help her cope with her fears. "It's not that they watch television all day, but I prefer activity at home and I try to encourage that. It's safe where we live and the area is heavily guarded because it's close to Qalqilyah. There was a period when we were afraid and we thought about moving, but when we understood that the terrorists are interested in Ra'anana and Kfar Sava, we decided to stay. We have a yard, so naturally we buy more games for the yard and we stay home more.

"My older son wanted to go to a movie and I hesitated to take him, but finally we went to a small mall in Ra'anana, not to the big one, and I noticed that everyone arrived for the movie exactly one minute before it started and as soon as it was over they rushed out - no one stayed around to have a hamburger or an ice cream."

Zamir, too, thinks carefully about every move: "Everything is calculated," she explains. "I go to the store, buy whatever item of clothing I want fast, pay and leave. I check out cafes and restaurants: whether it's a corner location and where to sit. I also get uptight if I find myself driving behind a bus. I go through Kfar Sava every day and pass by the place where the terrorist attack happened. If I'm next to a bus in a traffic jam, I say to myself, `if it blows up now ...,' and then the green light comes and I say, `OK, I was saved.' I feel as though I'm in a lottery."

Steimatzky's reports increased book sales, especially thrillers and action novels, light reading, workbooks and crayons for children, and crossword puzzles in a wide range of languages.

Batsheva Uzeri

Batsheva Uzeri, 51, mother of seven and grandmother of seven, from the predominantly Orthodox Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem. is a social worker. What she finds more difficult than coping with the fear that has seized her recently is to admit, as a religious person, that something in her life has gone awry.

"As a believing person, I am confident that I am being watched over, but even so, after the terrorist attacks, when I get on a bus, I look more closely at the faces of the passengers and watch where the bus is going. I look deep, as people say. On the way to work or on the way home, I prefer to take alternative lines so as to stay as far away as possible from the center of town. The Torah says, `Take good heed of your souls,' so if I can take heed, I do. I am not afraid, thank God, just more careful."

Home alone - with candy and coffee-makers

Since Israelis started staying home, they have been eating more sweets and watching more television. Giora Bar Deah, the CEO of Elite, which manufactures sweets and coffee, says that there has been a 5 percent increase in sales of these items in supermarkets as compared with the same period last year, and a decline of six to eight percent in sales in cafes and kiosks.

Tempo, the company that manufactures the Israeli beers Maccabi and Goldstar and imports Heineken, is not complaining about the situation, either. There has been a 10 percent increase in beer purchased for home consumption this year.

Israelis liked to buy expensive luxury items even before the cancellation of the Passover outings and the Independence Day trips. And now, when it has become clear that the home-front war is not about to end anytime soon, they like it more than ever. Zvika Gior, an associate general manager of a firm that imports electrical goods, says there is a boom in two areas in particular: television sets and small, expensive home items such as coffee-making machines. "We sold 40,000 television sets in March, which would work out to 480,000 a year - well over the average in good years," he says. "Another trend in this sphere is the [purchase of sets with] large screens and with thin screens [which cost NIS 40,000 to NIS 50,000]. My feeling is that people are making an effort to pamper themselves, to compensate for the fact that they are going out less or traveling abroad less. A lot of times, that includes a large home-cinema system.

"Another area is small household items: espresso machines, ice-cream makers, designer kettles, stainless-steel toasters, bread makers. The big hit is coffee-making machines, which range from NIS 400 to NIS 5,000. Sales have increased by hundreds of percent, and now the ice-cream maker season is starting. I interpret this trend as getting a little satisfaction for a few hundred shekels. `Things are tough, so I bought myself a coffee machine or a new toaster.'"

Every wave of fear and trembling means good business for video rentals. Ilan Givon, the CEO of Blockbuster, operates 230 automatic video machines and 14 stores, which have about 400,000 members. "The big leap came with the last continuous wave of attacks, when we had an increase of 50 to 60 percent over last year. Today, after a few weeks of calm, we are working at a level of sales that are 10 percent above the norm. I distinguish between the period when the television stations dealt with terrorist attacks obsessively, when people escaped to video on a large scale, and the present situation, when even television has taken note that people are worn out, there is no hysteria of reporting, and there are a lot of channels to escape to."

And if people are staying home more, why shouldn't they sit in comfortable surroundings? Ofer Eitani, owner of the Beitili chain of stores, which sells home furnishings, reports a sharp increase in sales in the chain's 12 branches. The first quarter of 2002 saw a 3 percent rise in sales of living-room and dining-room sets, and a leap of 15 to 20 percent in sale of items such as serving items and lighting systems. He says: "The economy overall is down, but in our line of business, which in the past was the first to be hit by an economic slowdown, things are better than last year, and last year was better than 2000."

Benny Uri

Benny Uri, 46, a former television employee and presently the news editor of the army's magazine Bamahaneh, feels like a sitting duck. He lives in Jerusalem on Herzl Boulevard, the main route of ambulances heading for the city's two biggest hospitals, Hadassah and Shaarei Zedek. He works in Tel Aviv close to the Sea Food Market restaurant, which was the target of a suicide bombing, and his mother lives in Netanya, not far from the Park Hotel, the site of the Passover eve attack that killed 29 people and was the immediate trigger for Operation Defensive Shield.

"We have a regular ritual in the family," he says. "If we hear ambulances going both downtown and toward the hospitals, we turn on the television and within a few minutes start getting reports of a terrorist attack. "The girls [15 and 11] don't take buses anymore; we drive them everywhere. On Saturday night, after they went to Scouts, we would always go to McDonald's next to the [downtown] pedestrian mall. After one of the terrorist attacks I took them there as usual and we were the only ones there along with another couple or two. We used to have to wait in line for at least half an hour, but this time the place was completely empty. That was what made me understand what is actually going on."

Which is what?

Uri: "These days, when you meet someone, you don't wish him happiness or health, only that he makes it home from work in one piece. The feeling is of life between the drops. In March, on our wedding anniversary, we thought about going out to celebrate. Before we could move, there was a terrorist attack in a hotel in Netanya near my mother. We said maybe we'll go out just the same. We had barely finished thinking when there was the suicide bomber at Moment Cafe in Jerusalem. That just finished everything for us. We ordered something home and that was it. My only consolation was at Passover, when the Scouts decided to cancel the traditional outings."

Rules for survival

The following unofficial rules came out of interviews with worried city dwellers and they bear sole responsibility for them. Some of the ideas are logical and widely accepted. Others are based on superstitions, and some of the tips contradict one another.

1. Don't leave the house if you don't have to.

2. Don't go to any place where there is no security guard.

3. Don't sit at or near the entrance to a restaurant or cafe.

4. Don't enter a cafe/restaurant/store on a level part of the street.

5. Don't enter a corner cafe/ restaurant/store.

6. Don't enter a cafe/restaurant/store with glass walls.

7. Cafes/restaurants/stores that have experienced a terrorist attacks are safer: Terrorists don't strike twice at the same place.

8. Don't take the bus; this is the time for taxis.

9. In a car, don't get close to a bus, and whatever you do, don't get caught between two buses.

10. Don't sit in the back of a bus; experience shows that the safest place is close to the driver.

11. Don't wander around the area of the Defense Ministry compound (Kirya) in Tel Aviv in the morning (when the soldiers are streaming in) or in the late afternoon (when the soldiers are streaming out).

12. Don't walk on busy streets at peak hours (Sheinkin Street in Tel Aviv on Fridays, the Carmel and Mahane Yehuda produce markets on Thursdays).

13. Don't go to a shopping mall that has experienced a terrorist attack (such as Dizengoff Center).

14. Don't go to a shopping mall that has not yet experienced a terrorist attack (such as Malha in Jerusalem or Azrieli in Tel Aviv).

15. Don't enter high-rises.

16. Don't even think about going to the "triangle" in downtown Jerusalem - the area bounded by Jaffa, Ben Yehuda and King George streets.

We're all in this together

In contrast to other wars, this time Israelis have legitimation to say that they are afraid, says Dr. Reuven Gal, a former chief psychologist of the Israel Defense Forces and today the president of the Carmel Institute for Social Studies in Zichron Yaakov.

"If at the beginning of the intifada, the theme was we will not give up and life must continue, today that norm has been breached and people say without hesitation, `I am not going out and I will not let the children go out.' On the other hand, I suggest two alternative points of view. In the past 10 years," Gal says, "I have served as a consultant on posttraumatic stress in Bosnia and Kosovo for UNICEF. I was in Sarajevo in the midst of the fighting and I saw a population that had lived for 10 years in a far more acute situation: 300,000 killed, thousands of women raped, homes destroyed. In the long-term, broad perspective, when we look at other societies, I know that people come out of it."

What can people do about a feeling that they have lost control?

Gal: "When you ask people how they are, they say, `Fine, given the situation.' That means that personally things are all right, but at the general level, they are not. That is a reminder that there are things happening outside the bubble over which we have no control. People who take preventive measures, such as not going to certain places and being more careful, have actuated the mechanisms that reduce anxiety and risks - in which case they are in control. There are some who do this at a virtual level, by not exposing themselves to sources of fear and anxiety, such as television and newspapers, and that is also a type of control. People find ways to cope, at the private level, where they are capable of exercising control."

How long is it possible to live like this?

"A long time. The fact is that in Yugoslavia it went on for 10 years. London also lived under the blitz for two years."

Prof. Zahava Solomon, head of the Adler Research Center for Child Welfare and Protection at Tel Aviv University and former director of the mental health research branch in the Israel Defense Forces, has specialized in the study of shell shock. Recently, as part of a research project on pressure situations, she examined a group of 12 mothers with small children.

"They talked about last wills in connection with the latest terrorist attacks, about who would raise the children if something happens to them, whether to leave the house with or without the child, and whether it was preferable for the child to remain alive with at least one of the parents or not. Decisions about whether to leave the house or take the bus, are characteristic of a situation in which we experience panic and anxiety and uncertainty."

Solomon adds: "The human mind provides us with maps of dangers: where it's dangerous and where it's not. It's imaginary control of the situation. This mall is very safe because there is a security guard, or the opposite, it's not safe there because there have already been terrorist attacks. Tel Avivians don't go to Jerusalem. This is a denial of our biological vulnerability, a very healthy mechanism that makes it possible for us to get out of bed in the morning."

What do you make of the fact that men say they are not afraid?

Solomon: "All the studies that examine the physiological stimuli of men find that they are at the same level of fear as women, only they report that they are less afraid. That is quite understandable. They are at home, they weren't called up for reserve duty, what kind of war is this in which there is no difference between men, women and children? Besides, men actuate a lot more denials. They do not have the social legitimation to say `I am falling apart.'"

Prof. Solomon does not suggest placing the nation on a metaphorical psychiatric couch, which is what was done during the Gulf War. She does suggest reinforcing the modes that people choose in order to cope with the pressure: "A person who gets on a bus and constantly looks around is doing the right thing, and there is no reason to turn him into a psychopath. Exaggerated viewing of television during terrorist attacks does not help and can be harmful by forcing the viewer to experience the event over and over, heightening the awareness of possible personal harm.

"Most of us have a moderate amount of diversion, which is welcome because it makes it possible to organize and relax. Soap operas, for those who like them, are an exceptionally good solution. So is a good detective novel, and so are gaiety and happiness. If chocolate helps you and you have no health problems, why not? The most important thing is to listen to ourselves. Most of us function correctly by instinct."

Posted by David Melle
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After reading the above, I wish they would get rid of the guards. They upset me, everyone inside a mall or resturant thinks they are safe, and no one looks out for the abandonded package. While reading here, all the people are too scared to go out anyway. I find the searching to be invasive and probably inefective and probably unhealthy. I am here for 35 years and for 32 no one cared if I had a gun or not (I don't).

The government should provide security not the stores. The only good thing is that there is 10-20% less unemployment than there would be without the guards.

Posted by: at August 20, 2005 09:56 AM

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