Let's go out to dinner tonight, my husband suggested about five p.m. yesterday, Tuesday, August 19,2003. Great, I told him. I've been stuck in the house all day working on my book. Making dinner seemed like mission impossible.
I wanted to go someplace new, so I went to a website listing all Jerusalem's kosher restaurants and found this little French place in the center of town I'd never been to before. I called to find out if they had a security guard, and then, while I was on the phone, asked if I needed to make reservations. Actually, I did. "We've only got one table available, out on the patio," the staff told me. "Otherwise, we are booked for the whole evening." And I thought, wow, after all the restaurants in town center have been going out of business after two years of intifadah, this place must be something special.
Even before we parked our car, I saw it. Downtown Jerusalem was packed with people. Families out for a stroll. Holiday-makers on tours. People going to the downtown food festivals. The open air flea markets were re-opened, and full of buyers. I couldn't believe my eyes. Just a year ago, Jerusalem was a ghost town. It was almost the feeling of a rebirth, I thought. People throwing off their fears, beginning to live again.
We sat down to eat about ten to eight. The food was great. The service wonderful. Lovely antipasti, and foie gras with pears, served on a little table out in a vine-covered courtyard. It was quiet and pretty. And I thought how fortunate this little place had weathered the terrible days when no one came to Jerusalem.
We finished about ten past nine, and decided to join the milling crowds enjoying the summer evening. As we walked down Rechov Rivlin and reached Jaffa Road, I didn't suspect anything as I saw the young boys who ran down the street. Youngsters letting off steam, I thought. Then I saw the police cars, and overheard someone say: Pigua. Terrorist attack.
All at once, I heard the sirens. More crowds of people were gathered on corners, listening to car radios. Someone said "Shmuel HaNavi street." It was a street in the heart of Jerusalem's ultra Orthodox neighborhood.
Suddenly, the lively street scene turned almost surrealistic. People were still sitting in outdoor cafes, smiling and laughing, while streets away children lay burnt and dying. There were no loudspeakers, and if you weren't paying attention, you could keep on telling yourself that everything was the same; a lovely summer evening in Jerusalem.
We headed back to the car, and put on the radio. A double bus, standing room only, packed with religious families coming back from a visit to the Western Wall, blown to bits. It had just happened.
We headed home, wanting to see the television reports. As I opened the door, I called out my son's name. But he didn't answer. He hadn't said he was going out. He probably hadn't heard me. I walked up the steps. His room was empty. My stomach lurched. My God, where was my son!
But soon I heard his voice from another part of the house. And I thought of all the families going through the same thing with different results.
I watched the television reports, the bloodied faces of crying children. The grandmother led from the carnage. The bodies lying in the streets. The tiny little girl on her back as medics worked over her....
And I thought of the people still sitting in coffee houses and restaurants all over Israel, and all over the world, still trying to pretend that we are at peace, or we are in some kind of peace process, or that we have people to speak to among Muslim Palestinians, or Muslims in general, who are in a position of power who actually want to reach a peaceful compromise on any subject. And I thought of all the months our government has allowed itself to give in to American pressure to abandon its war on terror, to let out prisoners, hand over security control in the West Bank and Gaza, allow terrorist organizations to bring in more and better weapons, train more bombers, in a process of self-delusion that looked at every concession as a step towards some positive goal. I thought of all these things which had led, inevitably, to that tiny girl lying bloodied in the street fighting for her young life.
And I thought of myself, as a citizen in a democracy, and how tired I was of fighting her enemies and her own government, and most of her own press, and the country of her birth --the greatest democracy and lover of freedom in the world today, the United States-- all of whom have been totally wrong every step of the way in facing a threat to mankind that can only be solved by force of arms with useless words, and self-destructive appeasement.
I thought, I'm to blame for that little girl. I shouldn't have been going out to dinner. I should have been standing with picket signs outside the home of my Prime Minister, my government, the American Embassy, telling them that the lives of the people of Israel were not a bargaining chip. And that that little girl's life, her blood, is on all our heads. I should have been screaming: anyone who doesn't fight terror 100% of the time, is a collaborator in the death of victims of terror.
That very same day, I had watched television footage of a terrorist bomb as it blew up the head of the UN delegation in Baghdad. I had heard UN spokesmen say, finally, after two years of having them blow up Bar Mitzvahs, and discos and Seder nights:" terrorists know no boundaries."
Those of us who wish to rid the world of terror should learn from our enemies. Our opposition to terrorism, to leaders of the free world that accommodate it, to an indifferent public that has learned to tolerate the deaths of others by it, should also know no boundaries. We are not allowed to get tired, to take time off. We need to be as relentless and uncompromising and single-minded and unmerciful and determined as Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. We need to fight for our lives now, so that our children will not have to fight for theirs in the middle of the street beneath the ministering hands of medics as their blood washes the road.
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Abbas has to choose between terror and respectability.
Tuesday night's suicide bombings in Israel powerfully demonstrated the failure of the current strategy of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in implementing the road map. Unfortunately it had to take the death of 20 Israelis, and the injury of more than 100 others, to prove the point.
Central to the first stage of the road map is the requirement that the Palestinians dismantle their terrorist organizations. Mr. Abbas believed he could succeed in disarming them through negotiation, rather than force, and heralded a three-month cease-fire declared by the terrorists in June as a sign of his progress. Tuesday night (the second major attack in violation of the cease-fire) came ironically as Islamic Jihad leaders were meeting with Mr. Abbas to discuss their cease-fire. Islamic Jihad, along with Hamas, claimed responsibility for the killings (although Hamas incredibly denied the cease-fire was over).
But the terrorists, it is now clear, merely used the cease-fire as an opportunity to re-arm and re-train for further attacks on Israel. It was always unrealistic of Mr. Abbas to believe that he could suddenly persuade terrorists dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel to lay down their arms and accept a two-state solution. These organizations, like al Qaeda, aim to fight until the total destruction of their enemy. The only response is to destroy them first. The White House appears to have accepted that the strategy the U.S. is using toward al Qaeda is also needed here. As Sean McCormack, the White House National Security Council spokesman, put it in the wake of the bombing, "We call upon the Palestinian Authority to act to dismantle terrorist networks."
The Palestinian Prime Minister and his security chief Mohammed Dahlan must now decide what they want--a Palestinian entity perpetually at war with Israel, or an internationally recognized state free to build its future. The silent majority of Palestinians want a normal life, but the terrorists make it impossible. Messrs. Abbas and Dahlan have shown some inclination to restrain terror, but Tuesday's bombing demonstrates they have a long way to go.
It also won't be easy: One reason for their reluctance to crack down is that they still only control a fraction of the entire Palestinian security forces. The majority are still in the hands of Yasser Arafat, who is working hard to blow up the road map. A genuine crackdown would mean some bloody scenes, and perhaps even a Palestinian civil war.
Mr. Abbas has certainly been around Arafat enough to understand his old ally's game. Mr. Abbas was with Arafat at the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords where, like the current road map, the Palestinians were given control of land and in return promised to dismantle the terrorist networks. But instead Arafat rejected Ehud Barak's generous peace offer, launching the intifada against Israel and giving financial and military support to the terrorists.
Like his long-time benefactor, Mr. Abbas speaks of "living in peace with Israel" and "dismantling terror." Arafat had a habit of then switching into Arabic and encouraging the suicide bombers in their deadly work, which was financed by Arafat's Palestinian Authority. So far Mr. Abbas has been more consistent. But he cannot straddle the worlds of jihad and international respectability.
For the first time in years, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime, the refusal to deal with Arafat and the presence of a U.S. President committed to fighting terrorism have produced a glimmer of hope that the Israeli-Palestinian question can be resolved. Mr. Abbas has a chance to turn Palestinians away from terror and lead his people to statehood in peace with Israel. To do that, however, he must forcibly disarm these terrorists. If he doesn't, Israel has a responsibility to its citizens to do it instead.
Mainstream media outlets are reporting that Abu Mazen condemns the August 19th bus Arab terror massacre, conveying the impression that the PA condemns the massacre.
However, most significantly, the Arabic language official Palestinian Authority Radio, Palestinian Authority TV and Palestinian Authority newspapers did not carry any real condemnation from Abu Mazen or any other official from the Palestinian Authority yesterday.
Dr. Michael Widlanski, who recently completed his Ph.D. on the subject of the Palestinian Authority media, and who was formerly a reporter for the Israel bureau of The New York Times and the bureau chief of The Atlanta Constitution, listened to and recorded the radio newscasts of the PA radio station on the day following the bus massacre.
The PA radio anchor led newscasts throughout the day by saying that "The Israelis are describing yesterday's operation as a terrorist attack." He then went on with other news of the day.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, the director of IMRA news agency, www.imra.org.il, asked Dr. Widlanski to comment on the reaction of the PA to the bus bombing yesterday in Jerusalem. The following are his observations: "If the Palestinian Authority, or as they term themselves, the Palestinian leadership, had any intention to convey a message of real condemnation of these attacks, they would call them attacks."
The bombing of the bus yesterday is universally termed in the Palestinian press "amaliyya al Quds" - "the Jerusalem operation," rather than as an "attack" or a "terroristic attack." By the way, the "peace process" is also termed the "peace operation" by the Palestinian media.
The "condemnation" broadcast by Voice of Palestine radio never condemned the perpetrators. Interestingly, the reports all act as if the identity of the attacker is not known.
It should also be noted that the reports did not begin with the news of the attack and its "condemnation". They opened with comments about the "horrible" things that the Israelis were doing (i.e. the "racist fence"). And yesterday morning the top story was the Israelis "invading" the Temple Mount.
Voice of Palestine also ran very cheerful music after the bus attack - as they did after the recent Rosh Ha'ayin/Ariel attacks. It was unusually light music - as they would play on a holiday.
Meanwhile, Al Quds, the official newspaper of the Palestinian Authority, also ran an interesting editorial cartoon - two colored star bursts going off before cameras labeled Baghdad and Jerusalem."
The time has come for the press to learn from the mistakes of the Oslo process.
For almost a decade, the media has tended to mislead the public by ignoring the Arabic language broadcasts and telecasts of the official Palestinian Authority media, whose radio news content is directly controlled by Arafat and Abu Mazen.
Even the Jewish Telegraphic Agency fell into the trap, when the JTA"s Gil Sedan reported in his dispatch of August 20th that Abu Mazen "vehemently condemned the bombing, [and] reportedly ordered PA security services to arrest those responsible." Sedan, who knows Arabic, could very easily have checked with the Arabic language PA TV, PA radio and PA newspapers, where he would have heard an entirely different message from the Palestinian Authority.
What a totalitarian entity communicates for foreign consumption means very little. What matters is what that entity communicates to its own people in its own language. And what the PA is communicating bodes a dangerous future for innocent Israelis.
The Jerusalem bombing took place on a bus selected specifically because it was packed with children.
Jerusalem hospitals, several of which I have visited in the last year, were overwhelmed last night with victims, many of them infants and toddlers.
The bomber, a school teacher, was a Palestinian jihadist. A video tape released by Hamas showed him holding the Koran in one hand and a machine gun in the other. His wife released a statement shortly after the bombing praising his martyrdom. She was proud her husband had killed children - after all they were only Jews.
When reports of the dead children reached an Israeli prison, the inmates "applauded joyously and passed out candy" when they heard the news. These are the kind of men our leaders have been pressuring Israel to release from prison as a "peace gesture" to keep the "sacred" Road Map moving forward.
This is the mindset of the people who will be part of the Palestinian state that is supposed to exist side by side in peace with Israel.
An unnamed "top official" in the Administration is quoted this morning as saying there is no panic over the bombing because, "Everyone understands there are going to be setbacks the closer we get to a true political solution."
Setbacks?Easy to say when you are sitting in a plush office in Washington, D.C. and when it is not your children being scrapped off the sidewalk.
The Baghdad slaughter received most of the attention in the media this morning.
As I write, no group has yet claimed credit but suspicions center on Ansar al-Islam, a terrorist group with ties to Al Qaeda. Its members and other jihadists have been streaming across the border from Iran, Syria and Palestinian areas in recent weeks.
U.N. officials were just stunned that they had been singled out. You could almost hear the sense of betrayal in their voices.
After all, the United Nations had tried mightily to thwart America's liberation of Iraq every step of the way.
If the U.N. had prevailed, Hussein would still be in his palaces and his "boys" would still be raping and pillaging. Moreover, the U.N. is there now to look out for the Iraqi people, unlike those "imperialist" American occupiers.
The U.N. was so anxious to avoid being associated or identified with the U.S., it requested that U.S. guards outside the U.N. headquarters be kept to a minimum. The bomber must have gotten a chuckle out of that.
So, Kofi Annan is left to ponder today the fact that appeasement of evil will not spare you in the end.
Thugs and terrorist smell fear and it whets their appetite for more death and destruction.
But it does speak volumes about the evil we are dealing with. Humanitarian efforts and reconstruction efforts designed to help the Iraqi people are regularly sabotaged by Islamic fanatics. They care more about killing Americans and other westerners than they do about helping their own people.
Baghdad and Jerusalem are merely different battlefields in the same war, just like New York, Washington, D.C. and a field in Pennsylvania were on September 11th. We cannot turn back now.
Mr. President, drop the Road Map, rally the free world, and destroy these thugs now before more innocents die.
Gary L. Bauer
The ultimate truth is that there can be no compromise or negotiation with such demonized terrorists, whether they are blowing up hotels in Baghdad or buses in Jerusalem. Their aim is only to kill and destroy. They will never be vanquished alone by "moderate" Muslim leaders like Abbas, Jordan's young King Abdullah or Egypt's Hosni Mubarak. It is a war the pampered West must also fight with all available might, whatever the costs and however long it takes.—David Dolan, Fight the war, WorldNetDaily
THE VICTIMS AND STORIESThe 20 victims of the Jerusalem #2 bus attack are:
Suicide Bombings in Figures (from the Jerusalem Post)
Note that Tuesday's bombing was not included in those statistics
- Since 1993, 303 suicide bombers have carried attacks against Israeli targets.
Hamas claimed responsibility for 89 suicide attacks.
181 suicide bombers originated from the West Bank.
- 242 suicide attacks - 80% of all suicide attacks - have occured since
- Since the hudna (temporary cease-fire) declaration of June 29, 2003:
6 people were killed (5 Israelis and 1 Foreign National), 28 civilians
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