Brothers at War - The Heartlessness of Terrorism
The morning was as sunny and hot as the evening was cool and breezy, but the day started and the other ended the same way, with death. I had risen at 7:30 AM and went to contribute to my caffeine addiction. Though I found no coffee, at around 8:15 AM, no less than 15 minutes later, I saw ambulances and police vehicles racing down King David Street towards Gilo, on the road to Bethlehem. I had planned to go to Bethlehem at 11:00Am. I ran into the King David Hotel and learned of the deadly bus bombing that had just killed seven children and 12 adults. So, I hailed down a taxi and headed towards bedlam.
The sight was so much more devastating to see in person than anything one might see on TV. There was a certain charred smell in the air, and I knew what it was. It was hard to think that the blasted out bus was the scene where nineteen innocent souls who were destroyed, amongst whom were seven children had had their young lives cut short. It made me feel guilty to take pictures, but their story had to be told. They had awaken that morning and died before the afternoon in this attack which would prove to be the worst attack in Jerusalem in 40 years. Though I was refused entry at first into the scene, I was finally able to enter in from the left side of the blocked off crime scene. Bits of personal effects and clothing items were strewn everywhere. It all brought crashing home to me that so many had suffered so terribly right there.
The day after the terrible carnage of the suicide blast had left an indelible image burned into my mind, I spent a lot of energy and time trying absorb and understand the thoughts and emotions that flooded my mind. I was in Israel to write objectively and to explain both sides, but my angry and saddened mind kept telling me how much I hated the other side. I have four children. I have a family. I want them to outlive me! Such thoughts coursed through me and I had to get them into some type of perverse perspective in order to accomplish my task. So my whole morning was a day of trying to take in what I had seen the day before. There was a report that two bombers were in the new city. One was gone and the last one was a reportedly still out there. The population seemed convinced there would be a second bombing, soon. They proved how well the people of Israel had refined their sense of danger.
I was seated in the Rosemary café on King David Street for a bite to eat when I heard it all over again. The wailing sirens gave evidence all around that the angels of death and war had stuck again in the city of David. We got to the scene on the Northeast side of Jerusalem, which was almost in the West Bank, and I managed to get up close to the bus stop where the bomber had taken out his hatred on those who had never given him a reason to hate them. I saw a black colored vinyl bag on the ground next to the bus stop, and I did not have to ask what it was. Seven victims were claimed there. Ultimately, seven died in this blast and over two dozen were injured. When I was finally ordered out of the area, I walked past a soldier who was dressed in full fatigues and heavily armed. It was seriously and powerfully moving to witness such a toughened up man with tears flowing from his eyes. It was sure that this attack would not go unpunished. Two times in two days was unusual.
Is This Really The World You Knew As A Child?
I find it impossible to fathom how someone could be so out of hope and so full of hate that they could deliver death to such small and completely blameless victims. One soldier pleaded with me, "How can the people ever trust anyone again. Once they have killed your children, who is to be trusted?" This soldier's worn and bitter shoes, I did not want to wear.
In fact, children from both sides have been brutally killed. Children from both sides are growing up to hate each other and to distrust everyone around them. The only difference is that the Israeli children still have a solid family structure intact and a government to give them slightly more than a semblance of normality. The same cannot be said for Palestinian kids who have had all their security torn away from them, partly by Israel but also by their own leaders who have taken their people down the road of terrorism and death. Both sides love their children; both sides want the best for their children and both sides must do more to save their children, both physically and emotionally.
A part of humanity's future dies with each one that perishes, Jewish or Arab and new seeds of hatred take root with each blast. There could be no greater reason to find peace than to save the children. Though I had already begun to understand the Palestinian situation better, seeing these blasts only brought more resolve to me that there is no justification for such a crime against humanity and that such attacks only hurt the Palestinians' hopes. I had to get inside the Palestinians' heads to understand what could motivate them to do such acts.
In talking to many Palestinians about the deadly phenomenon of suicide bombing, I think I found the deadly recipe. As one Palestinian man at the Old city of Jerusalem put it, "How can we be equal partners or even equitable as adversaries with Israel? We do not have tanks or planes. The peace Israel wants makes us conquered, not liberated. When a man or woman has had their mother and father, perhaps her husband and children were destroyed by an invading nation, what have they left? They cannot work, go to school nor feed themselves. One can subsist in America. You have the laws and the institutions to help the sick and the hungry. On a good day in the West Bank, we are at subsistence level. When you get to the point when survival is worse than death, all you have left is your God, your stones and your body." Take this scenario and combine it with hatred and revenge and you have just produced a suicide bomber. I knew I would have to go to the West bank.
Probably the best thing that happened in Jerusalem was meeting two freelance journalists, Gregory Harms and Vicram Sura. We decided to work together on a trip to the West Bank. We planned the short trip to Ramallah and argued the finer points of the Palestinian issue. During the day I met the General Secretary of the Federation of International Journalists, Aidan White. He had just returned from the Gaza and was going to Ramallah. He gave me his card. The same evening, I contacted Mr. White and found him to be very helpful. He gave us the number of the President of the Palestinian Journalist Syndicate, Mr. Naim Toubasi. Having had the opportunity of meeting Mr. Aidan White and Naim Toubasi made all the difference in the journey, which followed.
Are You Ready For Nimrod Rising?
There were normally many of the small cramped minivans or shurups heading to Ramallah, but not this morning. There was nothing except taxis. The border had just been closed, which was a tale-tale sign that something was in the works for the Israeli army. We knew we still had a small window of opportunity to get into Ramallah and we at least had to try, though there were no guarantees about getting back out. Though we had never met Mr. Toubasi, he had said he would meet us, and he was our only hope to get a true picture of what had been the fate of Ramallah. We all three piled into a taxi and headed to the former western border of Jordan, now called the West Bank.
The ride to the capital of the Palestinian authority caused me to pay attention to my surroundings. I had already been to Iraq twice and I knew what that feeling in the pit of your stomach was all about. It told you that you had temporarily left your sphere of normality and security and that you were not quite sure of what could ensue and that my need to know had overtaken my requirement of safety.
The valleys of the Holy Land are breathtaking. They were the hosts of many biblical wars. The valley of Megiddo still waits for the final bloodletting at Armageddon. As we past in the taxi toward the Qualandiya checkpoint, the valley to my left changed quickly. In the valleys of Israel, you can see growing affluence and a stubborn insistence on truly possessing what the Jews regard as their biblical birthright. This is the amazing thing, considering that the Jewish state has been virtually at war since before the founding of the nation. I could tell that when we had left Israel and were in the West Bank. The buildings began to look older and there began to be signs of destruction and desertedness everywhere. Suddenly, we were out of the urban area of Jerusalem and in front of us was a line of Palestinians, lined up to cross over the massive checkpoint to their jobs and hopefully back to their families in the evening.
Though the Palestinians wait at this massive checkpoint without violence, as they seek to carry on their daily lives by enduring what they regard as humiliation, the deep-seated hatred and anger of the men and women as they dealt with overheated and crying children was pervasive. There are no accommodations for women and children, an idea which seemed far too thoughtful and merciful according to the Jewish soldiers I talked to. After about one hour, I finally was able to pass. I immediately was confronted with the ravages of a war of incursion by the Israelis responding to attacks of Palestinian suicide bombers on the lives of the innocents in Israel. Buildings were demolished all around me with snipers having been spotted and heard from the hillside homes on my left and right. The sun was hot and shots were fired and we stood out in the midst of the war between Isaac and Ishmael.
Nimrod Rising In Depth
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