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Letter from Jerusalem
Last uploaded : Thursday 29th Jan 2004 at 11:42
Contributed by : Sheila Raviv


[Editor's Note: The Israeli media are now reporting that the Palestinian Authority ststes that today's bomber was a Bethlehem policeman.]

This is one of the hardest days that Israel has been through for a long time. 1,260 days of hope have been dashed in one picture of three wooden caskets. Illogically we hoped and prayed alongside the Avitan, Souad and Avraham families that their beloved sons would be alive. We knew it was unlikely. A friend, an officer in the IDF, saw the jeep they were driving at Shaba Farms, near the border with Lebanon, when they were kidnapped. He saw the bullets holes and the blood and had strong doubts as to their survival.

Undoubtedly the United Nations post which oversaw the entire filthy affair saw that there were bodies being dragged not boys being kidnapped, but edited the video before handing it over a whole year after the kidnapping. If the boys were dead when taken that makes Nasrallas Hisbolla bodysnatchers. They have kept the grief stricken families on tenterhooks right until the 11th hour, "Only when the deal is complete will you know if you get boys or bodies" he laughed. "You will be surprised at how humanitarian we are" Humanitarian? I am angry, sickened and sad. May the Avitan, Souad and Avraham families know no more sorrow; they have had enough to last a lifetime.

This inhumanity performed in the name of religion will not break us. We will not only continue but pick ourselves up and get on with life, which is why I will now collect myself and write the happy letter I intended writing before this morning's tears.

You all love when I describe the glorious colours, scents and sounds of Mahane Yehuda (Jewish Market) in Jerusalem. Zvi and I were there this week, but the sounds were different and the sights most certainly were!!! Music was blaring, people shouting excitedly and balloons being released as Members of Knesset came to sell fruit, vegetables, spices, fish, pickles and every possible combination of delicacies they could fit into an hour!!! The event was to benefit underprivileged children in Jerusalem. The Mayor was a star as he donned a baseball cap and apron and dished out pi ckles and salads, Colette Avital, Yuli Tamir and Benloulou laughed an threw themselves into the fray, but the star, the out and out star was Shauli Yahalom MK. He chose the best stall in the shouk, set his colossal frame behind the most delicious of spices and the cooked rice dishes and spooned (nay ladled) the aromatic delights into the mouths of unsuspecting passers by!! Needless to say he took some fairly large quantities himself!

08:50 - Oh dear G-d in heaven. I was just about to tell you that Kinneret Chaya [terror bomb victim 2002] is already in New York and on her way to Boston where many dear people will take care of her when my friend Judith called. "Did you feel it? Did you hear the terrible boom? Eight ambulances have already passed, where is Zvi?" At least 10 dead, at least 6 critical, at least 45 injured, when will it stop?

The number 19 bus travels from Hadassa Hospital Campus on Mount Scopus to Hadassa Hospital Campus in Ein Kerem; the route wends its way through the centre of town and out the other side. The passengers are Israeli Jews and Arabs, patients and supports staff, doctors and nurses and those who simply want to go to work. Because of the nature of the passengers they all board and alight with ease. The driver, who thankfully survived, said that he did not sense anything or anyone suspicious, which may suggest a regular passenger. It would not cross the mind of the driver to frisk an Arab woman, or indeed a Jewish woman. Once again we were deceived; once again terror struck; once again a woman turned multiple killer as she blew herself up on the number 19 bus as it neared Caf? Moment, rebuilt after 21 young people died in another homicide bombing, around the corner from the Prime Minister's home, the President's residence, the American Consulate, Terra Sancta Convent, the Great Synagogue and the Jewish Agency building.

Each morning at that hour Zvi travels to work down Rehov Aza (Gaza Street) watching the huge double-length buses of the early morning rush turn at that corner. The timing was carefully thought out; the site even more so; the decision to kill as many innocent civilians as possible was taken with cold hearted rationality, this was not done on a whim or an angry moment of revenge, this was carefully planned. Australian Foreign Minister Downer was in Jerusalem last week to celebrate Australia Day in the Israeli capital. In a very clear statement he said "There is no excuse for terror. Nothing, but nothing excuses the killing of innocent civilians. That is terrorism and cannot be accepted"

Now we must wait to see how the BBC will report this horrific bombing. Will they blame Israel for bringing it upon herself? Will Orla Guerin finally be stopped from her cold remarks or will the recent Hutton Report on the twisting of news by the BBC have no effect? I will give you a report on my take of the Hutton Report and its repercussions when my mind is clear.

We will overcome even these trials. We have overcome greater ones. This week, on the 27th of January, the Europeans took the lead from Britain which has long acknowledged Holocaust Day on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Death Camp. Many European countries have introduced an official Holocaust Memorial Day. It is a start; it denies the deniers, but, to gain validity I repeat and repeat that each and every child in each and every school in each and every country of this earth should see the film "The Wave" based on a story by Ron Jones. Demand your local video store stock it and display it.

We can change the world. All change starts with one person and a strong belief in what is right.

Shabbat Shalom. May G-d bless you and keep you safe from harm.


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