Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Crowds and Security

150,000 people were on the beach in Tel Aviv to see a 15 minute fireworks display last night. The French embassy employed team of skilled fire-work presenters, known for displays at previous high-profile events. They built a raft in the sea from which to launch the display. The French government is trying for a little rapprochement with the Israelis. (Meanwhile, immigration of French Jews to Israel is up again, but that's another story.)

I had heard about the fireworks in advance: it's the kickoff of a French cultural festival. I don't much like crowds, so it wasn't too attractive to me. But it strikes me that the Israelis love crowds even though security is such an issue. Thinking of the unthinkable, it's strange that they like fireworks with their explosion-like noises. Not to mention that the holiday moments of silence earlier this month that were marked by air raid sirens.

We have seen plenty of evidence of preparation and avoidance of the unthinkable. At shopping centers, guards look in car trunks on the way into the parking lot. One's purse is opened and cursorily checked at entries to grocery stores, restaurants, train stations, and museums. If I were not a grey-haired American, it might be more than cursory.

While we were in Eilat, someone left a beach bag lying on the beach. As a result, we were in a traffic backup while the police got ready to deploy the explosive-handling robot. We caught sight of it in the back of the police truck, in fact. However, they soon announced that the owner of the bag had come forward.

An Israeli -- or tourist -- never forgets the threats and dangers. And enjoys the fireworks and crowds.

No comments: