It starts when you get on the bus: Chances are it's small and crowded like most city buses in Tel Aviv. There's almost nowhere to stand, let alone sit. Then it hits you: The bus you're on is a suicide bomber's dream.

For the first 3 years or so of the Intifada - the Palestinians' war against Israel that has been fought not with an army against another army on a battlefield, but with suicidal terrorists (some Palestinians, and some others too, but by no means most of them - just the loudest and most murderous) against innocent civilians (any and all Israelis in- and outside the settlements) in malls and restaurants and clubs and buses - it never occured to me that the terrorists could get me, too. Then I became rational and realized they were out to get me. They were out to get each and every one of us for the crime of being a living Israeli in Israel.

So there you are, standing at the front of the bus, looking at the passengers' faces. Maybe one of them has a moustache. Here, that one looks a little like an Arab. He has quite a large backpack at his feet, and he seems to be nervous. Oh my God, he's a terrorist, you think. You are paralyzed by fear. You picture him blowing up, and calculate your chances of survival based on his distance from you and the number of people standing between the two of you. He catches you staring at him, and gives you a strange look. He fumbles with something in his backpack. You may be an atheist, but you pray silently anyway. He could trigger the bomb any second.

Then it's his stop, and he gets off the bus with several other people. Guess he wasn't a terrorist after all. As you begin to breathe more normally, you find a seat. Five people are entering the bus. You look at their faces. One of them looks a little like an Arab...

Could you stand having to think about dying in a suicide bombing every day?

I didn't think so.

Insane, isn't it? The killing and all that shit. Peace has never seemed farther away.

July 24, 2004: Time to post some of the replies I got. They're not necessarily in chronological order.

montecarlo says Very good, and thought-provoking! That's why we hope that you will replace them with someone with a reasonable perspective.
krenseby says good node, if I visit Tel Aviv, I'll try to avoid buses.
Rikmeister says It's quite likely that people will downvote this like crazy, but i just wanted to say that when i was there on my gap year, this was the kind of fear that i felt all the time, so i wanted to say thank you for putting this up, it's a very brave thing to do. Thank you
Glowing Fish says I'm sorry. Taking buses in Taiwan was very safe, and comfortable. Unless the Reds decided to nuke the island.
nyte says So don't take the bus. A counterpart option is unavailable to the Palestinian who is in constant fear of the IDF bulldozer destroying his house because he lives on the same block as a bomber's family, or that his 11 year old daughter might have been shot by some trigger happy IDF fuck -- "You don't shoot a child who is 12 or younger... twelve and up is allowed", IDF sharpshooter. Yeah, right. Justify the murder of innocent Israeli civilians because the IDF is trying to protect them from it. Give me a break.

July 8, 2005: Yes I intend to make a direct comparison between the attacks on London and what has happened in Israel way too many times. No I won't actually write it. It's too damn obvious.

Node your life in the insanity of the Middle East permanent global bomb threat