y business card has the word "editor"
on it, which means I do things with words, including writing them.
But today I am as much at a loss as is the next person when it
comes to finding ways to express my sorrow and shock over the
dreadful Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on this country.
Those attacks struck out at our transportation system and hence
the business that we are in. Their victims include airline
employees with the passengers (mostly agency clients) whom they
served, travel agencies in the World Trade Center and other travel
businesses near the scenes of destruction in New York and
The travel experience itself is forever changed.
But the day's events weren't about any particular industry. The
list of victims will be much longer, probably longer than we can
I am touched by how many people I have heard from asking if I am
OK. I imagine many of you heard from friends and colleagues around
the globe, too.
Coincidentally, early Sept. 11, I arrived at New York's Kennedy
on an El Al flight from Tel Aviv. I had spent a week in the place
that many Americans are afraid to visit these days.
I came home just in time to witness (via TV) a terrorism
disaster much worse than any to occur in the Holy Land.
I had met people in Israel, including Palestinians, who talked
about how discouraging the conflict of the last year has been. The
ongoing violence does not target overseas visitors, but it gnaws
away at the citizenry -- and scares foreigners away.
A Jerusalem guide said, "When I think twice about letting my
children go downtown, I can't blame people who don't come here" as
So, does she let the kids go downtown? Yes, because "they can't
live here and be cowards," she said.
A ministry of tourism hostess shared her frustrations but also
said she is happy to hear when tourists go to Bethlehem and other
points where Israeli guides cannot go. That, she said, gives
business to the Palestinians and makes life seem more normal.
My host on a kibbutz at the Dead Sea fretted over the loss of
what, he said, was to be the "best-ever" tourism year. But, on an
everyday basis, he runs his errands in Jerusalem or wherever he
must go because, he said, "life goes on."
There are connections between events in Israel and here, and one
of those is grief. We have a monstrous crime to come to grips with
Little did I know when I boarded my flight Sept. 10 how soon I
would have a new sympathy for those who had shared their distress
with me, and a new appreciation of the value of "normal" -- even
forgettable -- days.