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November 18, 2015 11:15 am

After Paris Attacks, Israelis Visiting, Residing in Europe Describe Tense Atmosphere

avatar by Ruthie Blum

Tourists in Vienna. Israelis visiting and residing in Europe describe the tense atmosphere following the Paris attacks. Photo: Wikipedia.

Tourists in Vienna. Israelis visiting and residing in Europe described the tense atmosphere following the Paris attacks. Photo: Wikipedia.

Israelis living in or visiting different European countries recounted their experiences during and in the aftermath of the Paris attack for Israel’s Channel 2 on Tuesday.

One Israeli tourist described landing in Spain to an empty airport. But, said Orit Zigmund, “When we got into Barcelona, we saw that it was relatively lively. We were slightly nervous before the trip, but it turns out that it was worth it, after all.”

An Israeli resident of London explained to Channel 2 what it is like raising her daughters in the current atmosphere. “I can’t say that I walk around anxious and afraid,” Shai-Li Menzilovsky said. “But I do ask the girls to speak to me in English when we’re at the mall.”

The schools are protected, she said, but in London, security guards don’t carry weapons. She also claimed that currently, no place in the world can consider itself safer than any others. “Not London, not Paris, and unfortunately not Israel either,” she said.

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Daniel Gal, an Israeli living in Utrecht, Holland, told Channel 2 that he had been with friends at a music festival when the news of the Paris attacks began to trickle in. “People were in complete shock,” he said.

Rabbi Yitzchak Loewenthal, who heads the Chabad Copenhagen Center, told Channel 2 that there is a “slightly heavy feeling in the air,” but said that the Danish government and all Jewish institutions are protecting the community, some members of which have decided to move to Israel.

Or Tzur, an Israeli living in Amsterdam, said that not only can police be seen in the streets, but at the university, the topic of the Paris attacks is raised in every lecture. As someone who works in the Jewish community, he said, that is where the “tension and worry” are most felt.

Shir Zehavi, in Lille, told Channel 2 that seeing so many police officers and soldiers in the streets of France is “out of the ordinary.” In Israel, she said, heightened security is seen as part of being on the alert, “While [in France], it feels like panic.” Following a terrorist attack in Israel, she added, people go on about their business as usual, whereas in France, everything slows down.

This is very different from how Michal Mahleb described Madrid. “I haven’t felt any change here,” she said. “There is always a lot of police and security here.” The main concern, she said, is that the events in Paris could be repeated elsewhere in Europe.

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