Back in my hotel room after a long, long, wonderful day all over Israel, on a trip organized by former senator Rick Santorum, I was just reading online about all the rockets fired elsewhere in Israel in the past eight hours (none near us) when, wouldn’t you know it, the bomb siren sounded here in Jerusalem, where we are staying a very short walk from the Old City.
So I grabbed wallet, passport, phone, and room key, and hustled to the stairwell where we had been instructed to go in case of just such an eventuality. People were crowded into the well, but except for a girl of about three years old, nobody seemed scared. People were in various levels of dress (nobody anywhere near undressed, of course, but a few robes and PJs), and some of the guests seemed downright jolly. Part of it, I think, is because of the confidence bred by the Iron Dome anti-missile system. (Our delegation visited one such installation earlier this afternoon.) And part is because people here, including tourists, just won’t be cowed.
Hamas claims now to have shot off at least 40 rockets since about 3 or 4 o’clock this afternoon. (It’s now exactly midnight as I write.) All they are doing is bringing more destruction down on their own heads.
After about ten minutes, we all left the stairwell and returned to our rooms, which is why I’m back on my computer, writing. It will take a lot more than this to hurt morale in Israel. But tourism is down substantially here since the latest attacks started two months ago. It shouldn’t. Despite this siren, I feel very safe. Israel’s defensive systems are terrific. And it’s a beautiful country, a nation of great invention and inventiveness, with Western values and incredibly warm people. They love American visitors. They appreciate us. So, as we say down South in the U.S., y’all come.