Israel Report

July/August 2003         

The Morning After

By Reva Sharon - Jerusalem - August 20, 2003
A cloud of sorrow is filtering the light over Jerusalem. It is the morning after the bombing of Bus Number 2 which killed 20, including infants and children. It is the day after 20 people were killed by a bombing in Iraq. There is no accurate count of the injured in these attacks. After all the bodies were taken away and the wounded taken to the hospital, a baby cried out, was heard and rescued from under the rubble in the bus in Jerusalem. There are infants in Jerusalem hospitals fighting for their lives this morning whose parents were killed. An American family of thirteen children no longer have a mother, and will never see the baby that would soon have been born. I feel that I am living in a world gone mad.

While traveling in a taxi to the swimming pool at the Inbal Hotel for my exercise program, the driver sighs, and sighs again, and tries to comment about the horror of yesterday evening. He says a little then shakes his head – words are just not adequate. I too cannot find the words. We are seasoned Israelis, survivors of years of terrorism, the driver has wounds from war, but there is something more sinister about this latest attack.

There are many children in the pool today. And they are speaking many languages – Hebrew, of course, French, Spanish, Swedish, and English in various accents from America, England, South Africa, and I think I also hear someone speaking Portuguese. This brings to mind Sergio Vieira de Mello, killed in the terrorist attack on the UN in Iraq. I sigh again. I shake my head.

The children are as active as ever as they swim and play. But today some Israeli parents are holding their toddlers closer, showering them with more affection than usual. I have been watching them for awhile, and it is not my imagination. One young Swedish mother holds a baby no more than six months old and swims him through the water, teaching him to enjoy it. A French father stands in front of his baby daughter who is sitting on a ledge of the pool. She is less than a year old and gurgles with pleasure as she splashes her feet. The father holds out his arms and she plunges off the ledge into them completely without fear, and then he dances with her through the water.

Children completely without fear. I wonder if there are any Israeli children who know life without fear anymore. Does anyone in the world cry out in indignation that our children are not only being brutally slaughtered, injured for life, denied the love of their murdered mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, but are also being robbed of their inalienable right to life without constant threats that shadow their lives with fear?

I look around and watch the older children. Until they speak one cannot tell the Israelis from the tourists from many lands. They play the same water games, all love to stand on their heads, and swim under water. The Israeli children may grow up …

I chat with some women who also come frequently to the pool. One tells me that a relative by marriage of one of her daughters was killed in the bombing, and he leaves behind a wife and six children. She of course will be at the funeral.

I do another round of exercises in the water before I leave. The shoulder bag I carry feels heavier, the weather seems hotter, there is no sweet breeze blowing today.

Also by Reva Sharon;

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