Then, suddenly, as Horovitz recalled during a recent lecture, helicopters started flying overhead and ambulance sirens rang out.
The Mercaz Harav yeshiva — only three or four minutes from the Post's headquarters in Jerusalem — had been attacked by a Palestinian gunman, who had managed to shoot eight students before he himself was killed.
The front page of the newspaper had to be completely remade to reflect the depth and horror of the tragedy.
Horovitz, 45, conveyed these experiences to more than 80 people who'd gathered at the Jewish Community Services Building in Center City on Monday night. His lecture, called "The Threats: Without and Within," was sponsored by CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
The English-born journalist made aliyah in 1983; he and his wife, Lisa, have three children. Prior to running the Post, he served as editor and publisher of The Jerusalem Report and has written from Israel for newspapers around the world, including The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. The author of several books, including Still Life With Bombers: Israel in the Age of Terrorism, Horovitz is often interviewed on television and radio about the current state of Israel and the dangers there.
He painted a sense of "how we're feeling at the moment" in his talk. He said that, compared to the period of relentless suicide attacks that marked the second intifada — "when everyone was trying to kill you" — things have stabilized somewhat in the Jewish state. The addition of roadblocks and barriers has led to high security at the borders, and especially in the capital.
"We got through it," said Horovitz of the ongoing terrorism, adding that until last Thursday's yeshiva attack, Israelis were no longer under "the constant fear that someone might have a bomb under his coat."
A Bit of Better News
Throughout his presentation, Horovitz emphasized concerns about the current leadership of the Jewish state, and the seeming lack of propriety current leaders exhibit compared to their predecessors, like David Ben-Gurion. The journalist even joked with his audience that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert only wishes he had President George W. Bush's approval rating right now.
Horovitz explained that the majority of Israelis would like their country "to be a Jewish state" and a source for democracy, while asserting control over as much of the "biblical lands as we can."
He added that in the months and years to come, Israel will face danger from three main sources — Hamas, Hezbollah and, chief among them, Iran.
He called the latter's insistence on its need to develop nuclear capabilities for energy purposes as "ridiculous," considering that the country has the second largest oil reserves in the world, not to mention abundant natural gas. He stated that the international community is "underestimating what they are letting develop there."
But Horovitz's talk wasn't all "gloom and doom," as he called it.
He did offer his audience a glimmer of hope, saying that, all things considered, the situation in Israel is pretty good right now. He pointed out that the economy is doing "great," citing specifically the country's increasing presence in the high-tech market and the strength of the Israeli shekel compared to the struggling U.S. dollar.
He added that as Israel approaches its 60th birthday, Jews can be proud of the country and its flourishing economic growth — while still staying vigilant about what will be needed to overcome a string of continuing challenges.