Friday, June 29, 2007


At one minute to six this morning, I was jolted awake by an urgent feeling; there was something I needed to do.

Stumbling over the boxes of my office -- still unpacked after four days in the bungalow -- I staggered to the bathroom, passing Little Babe asleep on the living room/kitchen couch/high-riser.

More boxes of my office stuff stood like a mini Manhattan in the middle of the living room/kitchen. Outside the bungalow, the sky was an inviting pale blue and birds were singing prettily, Snow White-style.

Once I arrived in our crazy day-glo bathroom (the tiles are accidentally retro...installed in the seventies or eighties, before they were cool, which they most certainly are now) it dawned on me that there was nothing more urgent for me to do than get to the gym before my work day began.

Blame it on carbs, hormones, age or my exercise-lite regimen of this past year, but my Bungalow Bod isn't looking quite summer-ready. Though HOBB and the Babes protest to the contrary, I feel like a huge container of cottage cheese when I put on my Isaac Mizrahi bikinis (Target, of course) from bungalow summers past.

To counteract the lumpy look, I have undertaken four draconian measures until I see some improvement:
  1. No coffee (I was seriously, impossibly addicted, downing several cups a day of Zabar's, Starbucks and/or Oren's Beowulf blend, with generous amounts of half and half)
  2. Daily visits to the gym
  3. No to Cheetos and potato chips and other carby foodstuffs
  4. Yes to the Fat Flush Plan, or at least a liberal version of it (visit
So, within half an hour of waking up -- and two massive cups of green tea later -- I arrived at Straub's Fitness Center in Monroe. Claiming my fave treadmill -- the one with a good view of four television sets -- I plugged in my headphones, pressed Quick Start and was on my way to svelteness.

The danglings television sets had all been set to news stations and I had before me ABC, FoxNews, CNN and CBS. The story about the defused car bomb in London's theatre district dominated each network. For the 45 minutes I trod, I heard the story over and over again, listened to snippets of press conferences from London, saw diagrams of the location of the parked and smoking car, heard from the man whose car was parked next to the failed car bomb, listened to pundits and anchors and reporters alike, viewed the area -- Haymarket -- from a multitude of London security cams, got various updates on the situation, heard about the heroism of the bomb squad that disabled the device, packed, incidentally, with nails, learned of the potential catastrophe that had been narrowly, perhaps even accidentally, averted.

And learned a roster of new names in the news: Gordon Brown, the newly appointed PM whose name I kept forgetting; Peter Clarke, the chief of anti-terrorism for the British police; Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, a former head of MI5.

And tried to squelch my frustration hearing CNN's Christiane Amanpour skirt the issue of Islamic fundamentalism, reminding viewers that most Muslims in Great Britain are peaceful, linking the radicalism to the war in Iraq and the fact that Muslims do not enjoy the same standard of living in the UK (and France) as they do in America.

Just one teensy-weensy step further and terrorism becomes a sociologically and morally justified act.

Kind of like when it happens in Israel.

Naturally, the pundits and talking heads on TV hearkened back to the attacks of July 7, 2005 or 7/7, as we are almost at that ignoble second year anniversary.

It is a day that I will never forget because of the irony of where I was when the attacks unfolded.

On July 7th, 2005 I was hiking with my family in the lush Galilee, enjoying the second part of my Israeli nephew Alon's bar mitzvah. We were staying at a beautiful kibbutz right outside of Kiryat Shmona and had gotten up early to hike through Ein Tina, a river trail. The day was spectacular: sunny and clear with a sweet breeze. Camp groups gathered in the shade, applying sunscreen and checking their water supplies.

About three minutes into our hike, Little Babe slipped on rocks in the riverbed and fell, cutting his leg open in a gaping wound. A female medic nearby took one look at our sobbing son and proclaimed, "tefarim" -- stitches. Five minutes later we were on our way to a Magen David clinic in Kiryat Shmona.

After the doctor had stitched up a brave Little Babe who was now buoyed by the impending celebrity he would enjoy among his cousins on account of his five stitches, HOBB and I, who were limp with post-traumatic stress and the late-morning heat, decided on a trip to the Kiryat Shmona mall for some ice cream.

The mall in Kiryat Shmona is a dismal, two-story affair with a handful of cheap stores, a pharmacy, a post-office and a food court with a pizza place, a falafel joint, two ice cream establishments and a burger place. Like our retro dayglo bungalow bathroom, this mall hailed from the seventies, but there was nothing remotely chic about it.

Instead, it reflected the depressed local economy.

Yet the gelato was fresh and delicious and we opted for large servings to counteract the heat of the day and the memory of the morning.

It was as we were sitting down to enjoy our treats that we saw the horror of seven-seven unfold in real time on the television set suspended from the ceiling of the food-court. With the two-hour time difference between England and Israel, we caught the news as it was happening.

Eating ice cream in the very town that witnessed a massacre of eighteen of its civilians in 1974 (including nine children), it was surreal to say the least to watch London reel under the impact of a calculated terrorist attack on its underground and bus system.

Being in the world's most popular terrorist target, it seemed illogical that elsewhere on the planet -- England, in this case -- innocent civilians were also being killed in ideologically-driven murder plots.

For the next hour, we sat glued to the television screen, broadcasting BBC Worldnews, stunned to find ourselves safe in Israel while others were maimed and killed by terrorists in that most cultivated of European cities -- London, where we had spent a large part of the previous year.

So, when today's news from London dominated the airwaves, I felt myself transported back two summers, trading my treadmill-top location in Monroe, NY for the mall of Kiryat Shmona, Israel, recalling the cold shock that washed over me on that day as I watched the news.

Though I learned the truth on 9/11, the events of 7/7 reinforced the lesson: Nowhere in the world is safe anymore.

Terrorism lives, fueled by the conviction of those who wish to annihilate us.

By "us," I mean anyone who is not "them."

And passively aiding and abetting the terrorists are the Christiane Amanpours of the world, who fail to ask the proper questions, such as why moderate Muslim leaders repeatedly fail to speak out in force against acts of terrorism; and infer that opposition to the war in Iraq or an inferior social status satisfactorily explains why people of a certain religious and ethnic group are driven to kill innocents.

If the recent, Nazi-like boycott of Israeli academics in England didn't alert the world to a basic failure in British society, perhaps today's barely-averted disaster might serve as a wake-up call.

There is a murderous hatred in the heart of England, flowing through the veins of its citizens, poisoning the body of the nation.

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