Who owns the Haaretz newspaper in Israel
: Editor-in-chief of the Israeli daily "Haaretz": "Always on alert in Israel"
Mr Benn, Europe is facing a terrorist threat these days, which is part of everyday life for you in Israel. What is it like to grow up with such danger?
I remember being shown pictures of dangerous explosives in school as a primary school child. And we were always told: If you see a bag standing somewhere and you don't know who it belongs to: Call the police! Back then there were metal-lined pits in the school playgrounds into which we were supposed to throw anything we found suspicious. If any of these things exploded, it wouldn't do any harm there. That was our school yard, our school days. We lived in an atmosphere of fear, we were always on the alert.
Do you get used to it at some point?
Yes, of course, one of the things that always surprises me: When I'm traveling, in the USA or Europe, and walking through a shopping mall, I don't see any guards and think: where are they? When you go to a shopping center in Israel, you first have to go through the metal detector. It's strange to me when I can just walk into a mall. Interesting that you can live like that.
And when you are in Israel, can you get the feeling of constant threat out of your head for a moment?
Yes, but. It is more like that most of the time you repress the matter, just perceive it as a shadow.
How do you teach your children to deal with feelings of threat?
As a child, my older daughter witnessed the Gulf War and the attacks on Israel, it is not always just terror that threatens us, it is also the wars. Back then we had to wear gas masks, it scared my daughter. But it is clear to every child and every person here that the danger is always present. It has become a part of our lives, you don't have to explain it to anyone.
How did you learn to live with terror?
I haven't learned it, I've just never experienced anything else.
What advice would you give Europeans? How to deal with the threat
It's difficult, I don't want to lecture anyone, but from my experience I can only say that at some point you behave like a driver who doesn't ask himself how dangerous it is to drive every time you drive. Although there are many fatal accidents. You also have to learn to live with it.
Nevertheless, the Israeli state tries to do everything possible to ensure that the terror is not common. Aren't the Israeli security forces much better trained to prevent attacks than the authorities in Europe?
I'm not sure about that, the British and French also have their experience of terrorism, including their security forces. Perhaps our units are on alert more often.
How does this constant alert change a society?
I believe that, above all, something else is changing societies: in Europe, people have always viewed the Middle East conflict as a story on another planet. With the terror in Paris and London that changed.
In Israel there is this mood that the Europeans, especially the Germans, are crazy to take in so many young Muslims.
This is actually now mainstream thinking here in the media, in politics. But the attitude is not new. Yitzchak Rabin once criticized the Europeans for accepting too many Muslim immigrants.
Were you personally surprised by the attacks in Paris?
Specifically, yes, but that it happened didn't surprise me. After September 11, 2001 nothing can surprise us anyway, I think. And even these attacks in New York and Washington had harbingers. Rather, I believe that the terror in Paris showed us something else: namely, that the terrorists came and will come from Europe, live there.
What does that mean?
For example, that there is no solution to closing the borders.
The interview was conducted by Jochen Arntz
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