One of the most-covered stories in Israel this week described two attempts to assassinate Israeli representatives, occurring Monday within a few hours from each other, in different parts of the world. The wife of an Israeli diplomat and three others were moderately wounded when an explosion tore through the diplomat’s car outside Israel’s embassy in the Indian capital of New Delhi. And, explosives were found near the Israeli Embassy building in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Luckily, that device was safely neutralized before it could be activated.
The two incidents follow a number of reported attempts on Israeli and Jewish targets, most recently in Azerbaijan and Thailand. The attacks this week also took place a day after the fourth anniversary of the car bombing in Syria that killed Imad Mughniyeh, the operations chief for Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy in Lebanon. At the time, Hezbollah blamed Israel for the killing, and its leaders vowed they would avenge it at a time and place of their choosing. Every year around the time of the anniversary of Mughniyeh’s assassination, Israeli diplomats and representatives are put on high alert in fear of Hezbollah’s retribution over its leader’s death. Security experts attribute the attacks this week to Iran and Hezbollah. So, although these assassination attempts were far less successful than the perpetrators may have hoped, they finally were able to carry out the threat.
Dealing with threats of this kind is so familiar to Israelis that it is almost taken for granted. In Israel’s own territory, where it has full security control, the state uses variety of means to keep its citizens safe – from utilizing the army and police to posting security guards at the entrances of malls. But what it can do when its citizens wish to travel abroad? This is where Israel’s intelligence services come into play. These agencies are responsible for covert operations, which are suspected of conducting paramilitary activities beyond Israel’s borders. And, based on intelligence collection, the Israeli public is cautioned about an increased threat of terror attacks against Israelis abroad and advised to avoid travel to certain destinations.
For Israel’s representatives who live outside its borders, a state of alertness is even more crucial: their role as delegates of Israel and their residency outside Israel’s borders make them more exposed and vulnerable. Therefore, people in these jobs get clear instructions on how to take the proper precautions to stay safe. As I am one of them, I find myself thinking about this issue quite a bit this week. Working in a non-profit Jewish organization and interacting with the friendliest teens ever, my environment couldn’t feel any safer. The thought of my own protection rarely occupies my mind. Yet in certain situations – when a stranger asks where my accent is from, before I check in to a place on my Smartphone, or before I put on clothing that might give away my nationality – I do think twice. My caution is due partly to security guidelines I received when starting this job, and partly, I believe, because I grew up in a place where it never hurts to remain vigilant.
Rega Shel Ivrit
Sof maaseh b’machashava t’chilah – סוף מעשה במחשבה תחילה (Last made, but first planned).
This phrase appears in the Jewish liturgical song L’chah Dodi, which was composed in the sixteenth century in Safed and is still recited in synagogues throughout the world every Friday evening to welcome Shabbat. In the prayer, the phrase refers to the six days of Creation followed by Shabbat, but in contemporary Hebrew, it means that each act should first involve a thought. While thinking about the consequences of your deeds first is always good advice, when risk is involved it is a necessity.
About the Author
Roey Schiff is the NFTY Shaliach. Roey grew up in Ein Vered, Israel and has experience working with teens and leadership development. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Business Management from Ben Gurion University. In September 2010, Roey moved to NYC to act as the NFTY and Israel Programs Shaliach as part of the URJ Youth Division.