-- Deep into deadline panic, I sat hunched over my computer rushing
to complete an article due in New York this morning. The stream of screaming
ambulance sirens penetrates the periphery of my consciousness. Every Jerusalemite
within walking distance of the center of town has grown to recognize the
sound as a harbinger of tragic news.
I turn on the radio with trepidation, but to my relief find music playing.
Back to work for a few blissful moments until the phone starts ringing. Pigua
(terror attack) on Jaffa Road--everyone calling to check up on friends and
I actually experience a physical reaction to the news. My stomach clenches
and I find my knees shaking as I get up to turn on the TV. My mind
races to think who might have been on that fateful bus. The tragedy
occurred in the afternoon rush hour, one day before the start of our Thursday
night weekend, just after the bus picked up shoppers from the busy Machane
Just this morning, the dental hygienist cleaning my teeth was telling me
about a visiting friend from New York. "She's been in the apartment
the whole time she's been here," Moran said. "She's paralyzed with fear..."
I pooh-poohed the American's reaction. Why should it be OK for all of us
to go about our lives and live with the danger and not for Jews from outside
the country. "We're used to it already," replied Moran glumly.
But you never get used to the reaction of the world that tells us to exercise
restraint when we go after terrorist leaders, as we did unsuccessfully yesterday.
In the first three days since the Aqaba Summit there were 24 Arab terror
attacks. Over the next few days another five Israelis were killed and
today's toll is still not confirmed--reports indicate at least 15 dead. But
when we go after Hamas, who claimed responsibility for the majority of the
violence, sophisticated leaders inform us that Abu Mazen must be allowed
to reign in the military wing. I guess there wasn't too much coverage
of Abu Mazen's news conference in Ramallah on Monday when he brazenly
ruled out the possibility of confrontation with terrorist groups. Abu
Mazen vowed to use "dialogue," instead...
All the more extraordinary that Secretary of State Colin Powell told Fox
News that the US has "...made our choice. We are going to be supporting Prime
Now Israel Radio is interviewing people who witnessed today's bombing.
Shaken passers-by are recounting their brush with death. The cameras
pan up to the landmark Clal Building with its shattered windows, looking
over the twisted bus. The holy men of ZAKA, the victim identification unit,
have begun their grisly work picking through the carnage to salvage every
possible fragment of human flesh.
But you'll have to excuse me, there's an urgent call for blood donors, and
several of my friends are still not present and accounted for.
Judy Lash Balint is a Jerusalem based writer and author of Jerusalem Diaries: In Tense Times (Gefen). Reprinted by permission of the author.
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