“Israelis should not visit Istanbul, [Israeli] Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Monday as the National Security Council raised the threat level for such trips following the publication of reports that Israel and Turkey thwarted an Iranian terrorist attack in the city last month,” The Jerusalem Post reported.

And to think, we were due to visit Istanbul soon for a major upcoming international beekeepers convention (“Apimondia”–and, at that, after it was switched from a previous venue in Russia due to the war on Ukraine): 

“After canceling the Congress scheduled in Ufa, we needed to select a new venue for the 47th Congress that could be carried out with minimal risks and proven logistical support; Istanbul, Turkey met these requirements. Istanbul is a vibrant, safe, and central location in Europe.” More on that further down.

In any case, apparently, it’s far less “vibrant” or “safe” for Israeli Jews like wife Miri and me, due to hot intel of plots by Iranian hit/kidnap teams fanning out across Istanbul with the express goal of taking Yids as souk hostage souvenirs–or just simply killing us off at our hotels.

“The attempted attack on Israeli tourists was one of several by Iran in recent weeks, he said, adding that Israeli security organizations, the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office are trying to save Israeli lives.” Including, apparently, those of yours truly and wife.

Israeli and Turkish security agencies have reportedly made some arrests, but meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s National Security Council Counter-Terrorism Bureau on Monday raised the travel warning for Istanbul to “Level 4–the highest level,” which is equivalent to travel to Iran or Afghanistan–assuming any sane Israeli would ever consider those final destinations, despite the known propensity of many post-IDF Israeli young adults to head out for excitement and even Xtreme (i.e.; “dangerous”) travel venues.

In any case, apparently, it’s far less “vibrant” or “safe” for Israeli Jews like wife Miri and me, due to hot intel of plots by Iranian hit/kidnap teams fanning out across Istanbul with the express goal of taking Yids as souk hostage souvenirs–or just simply killing us off at our hotels.

“’These terrorist attacks are aimed at Israelis who went on vacation,’ Lapid said at a Yesh Atid faction meeting in the Knesset. ‘They are intentionally choosing Israeli citizens to abduct or murder. It could happen to anyone. It’s a real and immediate danger,’ he told colleagues.

“’We call on Israelis not to fly to Istanbul, and if it is not necessary, do not fly to Turkey,’ he added. ‘If you are already in Istanbul, return to Israel as soon as possible… If you planned a flight to Istanbul, cancel [it]… No vacation is worth your life,’” the foreign minister warned.

When the Apimondia organizers initially announced the second venue a few weeks ago, as much as I wanted to attend both as a beekeeper (Turkey has a legendarily fascinating history with beekeeping and fantastic honeys) and as a photographer (totally ridiculously amazing landscape and urban sites, faces, and places to shoot), I felt a deep twinge of concern:

One, for Turkey’s warm/cold official attitudes towards Israelis {Presidential Herzog’s recent visit to Ankara and such to the side). And two (and far more importantly), my reporter’s tingling “Spidey-sense” connecting it to Iran’s overt and subtle threats to strike Israeli soft targets soon after a string of lethal, alleged Israeli hits, against both human and material clandestine weapons and nuke targets in Iran, and their Hezbollah precise weapons officials, transporting materiel and plans via Syria to southern Lebanon.

That particular roiling, weapons-studded border is about a cozy 15-mile (28km) drive from where I’m typing these words in our (hopefully) rocket-resistant, steel-doored “safe room” at our cottage in our rural village, near the Sea of Galilee. 

Miri wasn’t happy about canceling our plans, but neither was I despite my concerns.

Good thing, in the end though, considering the deadly alternatives.

But it’s a damnable situation where we, as Israeli Jews, walk around international tourist sites with a target painted on our backs, and most of the world is either indifferent towards our possible horrific fate or supportive of those actively and daily seeking and planning our demise:

Headline: “‘Terrifying phone call in Istanbul: They’re waiting to kill you at the hotel’

“Israeli tourists called by intelligence official to tell them an Iranian squad is waiting for them at their hotel, and they must go to the airport,” Israeli Channel 13 News reported Monday evening.

It’s a damnable situation where we, as Israeli Jews, walk around international tourist sites with a target painted on our backs, and most of the world is either indifferent towards our possible horrific fate or supportive of those actively and daily seeking and planning our demise.

“On Friday afternoon, [the Israeli tourist] was asked to stay exactly where she was, in the market area, and in no uncertain terms not to return to the hotel. An armored vehicle arrived with ten Israeli security guards who accompanied them and traveled with them to the airport. They got on the flight, while all their luggage and belongings stayed at the hotel.”

That could’ve been us.

“When they landed in Israel they were taken straight to interrogation and asked who they had spoken to and where they had been. A real serious interrogation,” the friend told reporters.

 “And when they tried to figure out what had happened, it was explained to them that [the assassins] were just waiting for them at the hotel. She is in shock and unable to speak.”

“Two weeks ago, Channel 12 reported that Israeli security officials called and directly warned more than 100 Israeli citizens in Turkey that they were in Iran’s crosshairs, asking them to return home,” the Times of Israel reported.

“If we will want to respond to Israel’s activities, our answer will be given in its place and not in a third country,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to the report. His statement was a possible bid to ally Turkish concerns they’d be linked to a potentially deadly live-version episode of the gripping Israeli spy series Tehran, but in this case, playing for keeps and firing real ammo in their hottest summer tourist destinations.

For now though, Israel’s formidable Mossad and Shin Bet security services aren’t taking any chances with the safety of their nationals visiting abroad–including a pair of otherwise sedate grandparent beekeepers. 

This is not the first time that Miri and I, our children, and neighbors have come under direct, personal attack by Iranian weapons and proxies. Thwarting Iranian attempts to reconnoiter and try to kill Israelis is not a new phenomena:

In a Facebook post in mid-February 2022, I noted that my wife and I came under Hezbollah surveillance at our village, while working our beehives one tense Friday morning. A drone evaded a pair of Iron Dome rockets (which, missing their target, self-detonated not far to the east–about 2-3 miles away from where I stood, I’d guess, going by the concussive force of the explosions).

This is not the first time that Miri and I, our children, and neighbors have come under direct, personal attack by Iranian weapons and proxies.

The IDF said the surveillance drone successfully reentered Lebanese territory.

However, one of my daughters happened to be working at the nearby Korazim National Park when the drone passed over our adjacent areas, just as we were checking our beehives. I heard double explosions, followed by jets and helos racing directly overhead, no doubt seeking out both the wily drone as well as the remains of the Iron Dome Tamir interceptors. She was shaken up by the dual blasts somewhere in the vicinity, but physically unharmed.

In a similar incident in February 2018, the IDF shot down a booby-trapped Iranian attack drone sent from Syria over the area just south of the Kinneret Sea of Galilee–this time, southeast of our otherwise pastoral community.

I noted (in an all-too-personal update to a Facebook post after that hostile UAV infiltration) that the Tehran regime was now officially at war with me, “since two of my triplet children were explicitly within the area being surveilled.”

So please understand why Israelis (despite a few notable exceptions) are deeply opposed to the so-called JCPOA “Iran deal.” It allows openly Jew-hating tyrants in Tehran and their proxies to the north and south of Israel, in Turkey and elsewhere, to continue to attempt to kill us, just “conventionally,” as if that ever made a damned bit of difference.