A nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there
When I left the USA to live in Israel, I left behind loving and concerned relatives. Every time they hear of terror attacks here, or wars, they are worried for my safety, and the safety of our family. They call, they write. They remind us all diplomatically, but insistently that we have a place of refuge in the great United States.
Many years ago, my friend and room mate, who was from Detroit, was serving in the Suez Canal, during the war of attrition. It was not pleasant or safe. Every time he came home on leave, he had war stories, told from the viewpoint of a laid-back pacifist who did not relish the idea that people were shooting at him, nor the idea that he was shooting at other people. Then one day we saw news about the rate of violent homicide in Detroit. Some quick calculations showed that he was at least twice as likely to get murdered walking down the street in Detroit, as he was likely to meet death from the efforts of our Egyptian neighbors on the Suez Canal.
Many years ago I visited the US for some professional training. We were housed in the dormitories of a most respected American University, hospital and medical schools, in a great American city. We debated the reasons why were told not to leave the grounds unaccompanied under any circumstances, and considered the possibility of a foray to the local entertainment establishment.
"Just formal regulations," offered one of our members. "Nothing to worry about. "
He had almost convinced us, but our deliberations were interrupted by the unmistakeable sound of a gunshot, from which we drew the necessary conclusion.
I remember a visit not long ago to a relative in Queens, N.Y., quite a peaceful place really. This relative lived in a protected "estate" - with a wall, as in medieval times, and a gate, and guard and a checkpoint. The guard at the checkpoint was not an IDF soldier of course, but there is no doubt he served the same function. We were cautioned not to go outside of this compound at night. We were cautioned not to walk around Central Park at night. When we met people in New York, many offered their favorite mugging stories, and some offered stories about anti-Semitic inicidents. Almost all observed that it is very dangerous to live in Israel.
Everyone has their own stories, to be sure, and some of them are not pleasant, but at least we know why we suffer the various dangers of life in Israel.
When the occasion arises, as it frequently does unfortunately, we have gotten many of these telephone calls and letters importuning us to escape the missiles of Saddam Hussein or the bombs of the Hamas or the rockets of the Hezbolla by fleeing to safety in the United States. My sons were reminded of the excellence of institutions of higher learning in the United States as well. All of these offers are politely, if insistently and firmly declined. America is a nice place to visit, but we wouldn't want to live there. Too dangerous, you see.
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