Travel Advisory Is In Effect

Image

Travel Advisory Is In Effect

“How dare you open a spaceman’s helmet on an uncharted planet? My eyeballs could’ve been sucked from their sockets!” Cathy East Dubowski, Toy Story

These days, planning a trip to Iraq or Afghanistan is probably not a good idea. The United States and other nations are currently advising their citizens against all non-essential travel to these countries. But a government travel warning doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad idea to plan a trip to a particular part of the world.

Governments issue travel advisories to let their citizens know about safety concerns that may affect travel to a particular country or region. In the United States, these warnings are issued by the State Department.

Travel advisories are released for a variety of reasons, including terrorism, natural disasters, political unrest, wars, health emergencies and outbreaks of crime.

In many cases, violence, unrest or natural disasters are confined to a particular region while the rest of the country is still safe and welcoming to tourists.

The fallout from an isolated act of violence can affect an entire country’s tourist industry — and have a disproportionate effect on the economy of a developing nation.

Today i received a state department warning about a change in travel for Americans traveling to or living in Israel.

“The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem advises U.S. citizens in, or considering travel to, Jerusalem, the West Bank or Gaza to keep up a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness in light of the current environment.  Individuals and groups opposed to U.S. policies may target U.S. government facilities, U.S. private interests and U.S. citizens.  U.S. citizens should be aware of their surroundings and avoid crowds or areas where there is a large police or security presence.”

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens to consider the risks of travel to and throughout Jordan due to persistent terrorist threats.  The self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS), its affiliates, sympathizers, and other violent extremist groups have successfully conducted attacks in Jordan and continue to plot against local security forces, U.S. and Western interests, and “soft” targets. Jordan’s prominent role in the counter ­ISIS Coalition and its shared borders with Iraq and Syria increase the potential for future terrorist incidents. This replaces the Travel Warning issued December 23, 2016.

Ok- Jordan looks a bit unsafe at this time.  I’ve decided to go to Israel  despite the government’s warning email. But i will take certain precautions. It’s best in troubled times to be in a country that has an embassy from your own country and make sure it is fully staffed and functioning. The US Embassy which has not moved yet is a two-minute walk from my airbnb. Under the circumstances, it may not be a good thing.

I registered for  the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. I will keep my family at home aware of my itinerary, watch the news, get travel insurance and have a backup plan.

I will be careful in these areas but I think if I cancel my plans, the terrorists win. We beat them by being unafraid in the way we choose to live.

Fly safe,
JAZ

Advertisements

Anti – Semitism in Europe – Again?

Anti – Semitism in Europe – Again?

“At Auschwitz, tell me, where was God?” And the answer: “Where was man?” William Styron

We are all born into some story, with its particular background scenery, that affects our emotional, social and spiritual growth.

My story was anti-Semitism. My grandparents were part of the well documented immigration of eastern European and Russian Jews at the end of the nineteenth century to America. Restrictions and barriers were placed on Jews that made it impossible to have a normal self-sustaining life in their countries.   In Russia and Poland, pogroms (physical attacks on the Jews and their villages) happened on a regular basis.

Both my parents were born here and had experienced anti-Semitism growing up. My father was a high-ranking officer in the army (not a job Jews could have at that time) and had fought in two wars. He experienced extreme prejudice during his twenty years in the army. My mother grew up on a farm where they were the only Jewish family in their town. She also had a lot of experience with bigotry and discrimination.

When they had children, they moved into the most Jewish neighborhood they could find so their children wouldn’t have the same experiences. Many holocaust survivors moved there as well. I grew up hearing all the stories.

I  was able to read at a very young age and for some reason read the story of Anne Frank when I was nine years old. I looked at the picture of Anne. She had brown hair and brown eyes. I thought that she looked like me and she was Jewish also.  I decided in my nine year old wisdom  that they  could come for me too. I quickly became friends with the only Christian I knew, Frankie, the son of the superintendent of our building. His family could hide me if it happened again.

Children don’t understand prejudice. The world is black and white to them. If someone is mean than you don’t like them. But for someone to not like you and want to kill you because you are Jewish, or Black, Gay or Muslim – that is a hard concept for kids. It has to be taught. As in – if your parents hate them or are afraid of them, then they must be bad. Being hated because I was born into a Jewish family that wasn’t even religious was hard for me as a child to comprehend.

I grew up on the beach and saw a lot of people with numbers on their arms. All the old people who I knew had heavy European accents. For a brief period I thought they counted the older people and when you became old you got an accent. Many of my friends were the children of holocaust survivors. Their lives were shrouded in mystery and darkness.

The holocaust changed so many lives by simply observing just how horrible certain humans can treat each other. It didn’t just scar the survivors but anyone who came in contact with their stories. I grew up in a frightened community. I have always felt how tenuous the world was and that things could end at any moment just as it had for Anne Frank.

As I got older, I became obsessed with reading everything I could about the holocaust. I saw every film and documentary. Someone asked me once “What job I was going to get as the leading authority on the holocaust?’ But I needed answers. How did it happen? Why did people hate us so much? How do people hate for no reason and of course – the nature of evil.

I learned that evil can happen when it is beyond the realm of civilized human consciousness – like planning to kill all the Jews in Europe by gassing and burning them in ovens, flying a plane into the World Trade Center, murdering all the intellectuals or killing  or kidnapping children for going to school.

I am watching that evil again. I recently  saw a map on CNN listing the number of Jews living in each country in Europe. Was that the same map that Hitler looked at? The last time I saw a map listing the number of Jews in each country in Europe it was in a holocaust book showing the number of dead Jews from each country.

So there are no lessons to be learned from the past. The people committing atrocities don’t think of themselves as evil. They commit these acts in the name of righteousness or religion. As someone who loves stories, I wanted restoration and redemption in my story. But instead the monsters of my childhood turn out to be human beings in the present.

Fly safe,

JAZ