That might be the smarter thing to do, but then you don't know Israelis.
I'm not sure if it's part of our stubbornness or our complete faith in our country and army to protect us or our determination not to let Hamas scare us or just plain stupidity on our part. It's probably a combination of all four. As much as we are playing it safe - getting our bomb shelters ready, making sure our kids know what to do during a siren, knowing where the closest protected area is when we are out and about - we are doing whatever we can to make things "normal" for our kids and families.
For us, it meant going to Tel Aviv on Sunday afternoon so my daughter could buy material for her Monday sewing class. It also meant we were caught in a barrage of four rockets aimed at Tel Aviv's bustling city while eating pizza on Shenkin Street. While we waited out the loud booms and trembling that shook the downtown area, we took selfies in the kitchen of the pizza shop along with the other twelve diners and a visibly shaken dog who were taking refuge there. About six minutes later, we were back at our table, wolfing down our now-cold pizza (stupid Hamas!) as if nothing had happened.
As a parent you might think we were negligent. Going out with our kids in the middle of this craziness, we must be mad... I think it normalized things for them. They faced a serious fear with grace and a little humor and were none worse for wear. We all acted with calm and orderliness and swiftly made our way to a safe area without freaking out and terrifying them.
And that makes me sad...
That this has become somewhat "normal" for them. But then again, as they say in Texas, this isn't our first rodeo. My son was born in the midst of the second intifada, and we went through a period where we had to seal up one of our rooms with plastic, fill it with emergency supplies like food, water, emergency lights and our gas masks, of course. This was the same stretch of time we had to walk around with our gas masks at all times. Imagine taking your four children supermarket shopping, each of them holding their own gas mask boxes. Once you have that image in your head, it's difficult to get it out. But like it or not, this is our reality.
Why not leave, you might ask? Why bother when I have the choice to move back to the place I grew up? Because if everyone here thought along those lines, we'd be more or less handing over this country that God gave us straight into the hands of our enemies. And we are not willing to take that risk. Our very presence in this country is protecting it - the more people who choose to make Israel their home, the better chance we have at keeping it ours. Safety in numbers, you could say.
When I look at a map of the region it scares the bejeezus out of me. I look at the tiny - and I mean minute - space that Israel takes up on the Middle East map. I've heard all the comparisons - fits into Lake Ontario, smaller than the state of New Jersey etc... - but the fact that we are a small nation doesn't bother me. It's the sheer land masses of the Arab nations that surround us that freaks me out. But then I think about these last few days and I feel a sense of deep pride. We may be small, almost insignificant in the scheme of things, but boy, are we powerful!
We are strong and proud; especially in the way our first-class army operates, and in the sheer patriotic love we instill in our kids.
We are moral and humane; especially in the way our army conducts itself and how we continue to permit trucks filled with supplies to cross into Gaza even while they continue to bomb us.
We are kind and caring; it was more than evident in the way our entire country - religious and secular alike - prayed and pulled together in a show of unity and support for the three boys who were kidnapped and subsequently murdered in cold blood.
We are empathetic and loving; thousands of us attended the funerals of the boys and made condolence calls to the families whose sons were so brutally taken from them.
We are a people who love life; after all, we are determined to eat pizza with our kids on a sunny summer afternoon while rockets rain down on us.
We are peace-loving and peace-seeking. We agreed to a ceasefire and stopped all defensive attacks on Gaza. But while we ceased, they fired. Six hours we sat patiently and did nothing as more than fifty - FIFTY! - rockets continued to be fired into Israel before we said enough is enough.
But above all else, we are stubborn and determined. And we're not going anywhere.