Every week I receive requests from readers as to whether it’s dangerous to fly to Tel Aviv. And I always give the same answer: no, in Tel Aviv security is the top priority and the city is safe!
Annoying security checks for security in Tel Aviv?
There’s no place where I feel as safe as in Tel Aviv. Of course, flights are more strictly controlled. And that’s a good thing. Most first-time flyers to Tel Aviv are afraid of the security measures taken at the airport. Let me tell you, it’s not half as bad. You should react calmly to the security officials’ (at times probing) questions, the searching through your bag, as it’s all in the interest of your own safety. Stay cool, reply politely, even if it takes longer. I admit: that’s exactly why I prefer to fly ElAl. Even though the food may not be great, the crew sometimes brazen, I still feel I’m in good hands above the clouds.
Carefree and safe through Tel Aviv
Israel frequently makes the headlines, although these days it’s Donald Trump who’s stealing the show. And when Israel is in the news, it’s mostly about riots, terrorist attacks, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Tel Aviv isn’t called “Bua” (bubble) for nothing. We like to shut ourselves off from the flood of news, live our daily lives as if there were no Middle East conflict. Apolitical, detached, hedonistic, ignorant. All true.
The Mediterranean metropolis is different from the rest of Israel. Most definitely different from increasingly Orthodox Jerusalem. Just as New York or Los Angeles are not America and Berlin is not Germany. We like to push politics and everyday worries far from our minds. I hardly ever travel to Jerusalem, if at all. As beautiful as the city is, the overload of religious zeal wears me down. That’s why after three hours at the most, I long to return to my Bua, my life in the bubble.
Life in the bubble
With Islamist terrorism having spread to Europe, the danger zones have shifted in recent years. Formerly it was Israel that was considered to be dangerous, now it’s the pedestrian areas in major European cities. Even as a woman I feel safe here. Tel Aviv is busy, convenience stores are open around the clock, there are people on the streets at night. I never have the sensation here of walking home in the dark and turning around to see if someone’s behind me. In my hometown Frankfurt the streets are deserted at night. I often felt uneasy among the glass towers of the vacated banks.
Soldiers, security guards and reservists
Tel Aviv is safe. Military service is mandatory for both men and women. Right after graduating, all Israelis are conscripted into the military, men for three years, women for two. Up to the age of 45, all men serve a maximum of 36 days reserve duty per year. In cases of emergency, civilians are quick to react. It doesn’t bother me when security guards check my backpack in front of shopping malls, government buildings or hotels. Since Israelis have unfortunately suffered many painful experiences due to terrorism and attacks, the police and military forces are experts in the prevention of terrorism.
Living a carefree life: carpe diem
There are no places I avoid for fear that something might happen there. I freely move around the city, go to weekly markets and sit in crowded cafés. No, I’m not afraid of attacks. I’m too fatalistic for that. One day before the devastating Bataclan concert hall attack, I was with my daughter in the very same street where, the next day, an ISIS terrorist squad committed their massacre among civilians. I feel much less safe on Champs-Élysées than on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street. So, I can reassure you. Once you’re here, you’ll see that reality is quite different from how it appears in headlines and rumors. I like to go by my own experiences. You should too.
translation: Catherine Bradshaw
featured picture: Ariel Shalit