You Can’t Silence Terror

I read an article today on Arutz Sheva that made me remember two incidents – neither made the news, despite my writing an article about one and sending it to several top level Israel News outlets. The article today was titled, Jerusalem Mayor: Don’t Talk So Much about Terrorism. The first incident that I attempted to publicize happened on July 27th as I was riding the light rail on my way home from work. The second happened last week when I was with my youngest son.

My article: Attempted Terror Attack on Jerusalem Light Rail appeared on my blog on July 27th and I shared it on two sites – no one else picked it up. One Jewish site told me they were “saving it” for the next major attack. I reported the tear gas incident in the City Pass offices and demanded to know why the driver never stopped, never explained. They said they were aware of it; that others had reported it, and the would “look into it.”

I think, after reading Mayor Barkat’s words, I understand. If you can’t beat terrorism, apparently the city of Jerusalem has chosen denial. The claim that the trains are safe fall short – not because they aren’t safe but because these acts are still wrong, still crimes. There is no connection between the level of injury and the magnitude of the wrong here. Just because a missile doesn’t hit a school doesn’t mean it is acceptable that it was fired at Israel; just because “only” one person was killed in an attack, doesn’t mean it wasn’t terrorism and yes, just because no one was injured, doesn’t mean we should accept what is being done to the light rail.

No, I do not want to surrender the train – but there are other options – like rerouting the train from the places where they are regularly stoned. Two simple notes need to be posted:

Dear Shuafat, we have decided to take the fact that dozens of attacks against the train have taken place in your area to mean you don’t want the train so we’ve rerouted it. Have a nice day.

Dear Sha’ar Shechem, yeah, you too.

When a rock hit the train that I was on last week, it was clear to all that other than perhaps another cracked window (and honestly, there are so many windows cracked, who can tell if something just happened or was like that before?) that no one was hurt and there was no danger. This was NOT the case when tear gas was dropped by an Arab at Sha’ar Shechem (Damascus Gate) two months ago. This incident is described below. If it was not a terror attack, it certainly was an attempted one.

My answer to Nir Barkat is simple – instead of downplaying these attacks, publish them far and wide and then announce that we have instituted a new line:

  • Line 1 will go from Har Herzl to Ammunition Hill and then continue through Shuafat and on to Pisgat Ze’ev (the current route). Each time the train is stoned, service will be stopped for 24 hours on this line.
  • Line 2 (which should be built immediately) will go from Har Herzl to Ammunition Hill and then…build a new route to Pisgat Ze’ev that goes over a bridge, through a tunnel, between two walls…whatever it takes to get it there safely. It will not stop in Shuafat; it will not be stoned in Beit Hanina. Fix the windows on this Line 2; do not fix the trains that are stoned in Shuafat – more…each time the train is hit, paint a huge circle around each hit!

And the next time they burn the tracks down and ransack the train station – don’t rebuild it unless contributions come from the very neighborhood where the train was destroyed.

In the meantime, I, for one, refuse to be silent. My train was stoned last week and attacked with tear gas two months ago. This is what I wrote that day…shortly after I got home. Within a short time, my throat began to bother me. My two older sons have both been in the army and part of their training was being subjected to tear gas. I have never known what this felt like or the symptoms and yet, as I described what I was feeling over the  several hours following the attack and in the early hours of the next day, my son told me each was a sign of tear gas.

Attempted Terror Attack on Jerusalem Light Rail (July 27, 2014)

Of all the things I have never wanted to do or see, a terror attack is quite high on the list.

At approximately 4:30 p.m. today, I was riding on the second car of the Jerusalem light rail train, heading towards Ammunition Hill (Givat HaTachmoshet). As it arrived at Damascus Gate, as far as I know, the only stop where guards are required to wear bullet-proof vests, passengers got off and on, and then suddenly there was a loud disturbance in the back of the rail car in which I was riding.

Everyone starting running forward, a few people were yelling. The doors at the front had already closed. As I looked to the rear, I saw a small cloud of smoke and heard noise coming from outside. Just to the side of the train station platform, I saw very little other than what looked like an attempt by several people to converge on something or someone while there was more yelling both outside and in the train.

The doors to the train closed. People were trying to understand what was happening. Those that had been in the back explained that an Arab had pulled out tear gas and started spraying it and then, as the doors were about to close and people were trying to get away, he ran out onto the platform and presumably beyond.

People attempted to hail the driver, who it seems ignored all signals of distress. A slight amount of the tear gas drifted forward enough to give a slight feeling of it in the air. The train moved to the next stop where many people got out. Someone hailed security. They came into the train and made everyone go to the first car. I can only hope they checked the train before it began to move.

The next stop was the same, and then we arrived at Ammunition Hill where the train was checked again.

The reaction of the people on the train was a combination of anger and shock. As terror attacks go, it was, I know, a minor event. It could have been so much worse – in fact, it is in and of itself a gift and a miracle that it wasn’t worse. It could have been a bomb – there was no security person on the train with us and we were, for all intents and purposes, prisoners within a rail car that was shut down with a threat inside the car.

Life is full of what could have been and it helps to focus on what was. What was, was an act of hate intended to harm, if not permanently, than at least to cause discomfort. No one would allow us to say that Arabs cannot ride the light rail – they would accuse us of apartheid behavior and so, each day, tens of thousands of Arabs go on the light rail to get to work, to school, to shop, and for medical appointments at some of the finest hospitals in the Middle East.

Many Arabs abused that privilege when they attacked the light rail stations in their neighborhoods, burning down the stations and ticketing machines, defacing the structures with graffiti that read “Death to Israel; Death to the Jews.” For weeks, they have been stoning the train – so many of the windows on these clean and relatively new rail cars are shattered. The train bears these marks with stoic dignity as it travels along the route planned by some stupid city planner who forgot to take into account violence and security requirements.

And today, about 40 people were subjected to an attempted terror attack…or perhaps it was like the rockets they fire at us just a minute ago, an hour ago, and throughout this day and the last 20 days. I have always said, just because the rocket misses, doesn’t mean it isn’t a terror attack.

Just because a few of us probably have scratchy throats, and a few people complained of burning eyes rather than more serious injuries, doesn’t mean it wasn’t a terror attack.

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