Three or four times a week, I drive or take a bus into Jerusalem, ride the light rail to my office, work for several hours, and then take the reverse trip home. My children, my friends, my neighbors – we are a city that commutes to Jerusalem and beyond and then we return to the cool desert city that we love each evening.
I left early today, to pick up my little granddaughter, to finish a few hours at home before calling it a night.
“There was a terror attack in Jerusalem,” said my youngest son a few minutes ago. He is a volunteer for MADA. Nine have been wounded. A baby very seriously, two others seriously, two moderate, four lightly. At first it was three, now it is nine.
“Did you hear the news?” my oldest son called. “The baby died.”
“Where are you?” says my youngest daughter when I answer the phone. She is 14 and was afraid. It’s my bus stop, my train, my friends and neighbors.
In the first minutes, there is such devastation. Panic mixed with fear and such sorrow. The anger is a slow burn deep down inside. And through the anger comes a single word – restraint. This is what they demand of us. They demand that we show restraint. How do you respond when a baby is murdered?
Restraint is such a ridiculous word. It means fight the urge to smash thing; don’t give in to the anger. Think before you act. That’s what it means in the western world and it is the western world demanding this of Israel.
In the east, where Israel is located, restraint means weakness. We live in a world surrounded by countries that believe that if you have the power to destroy, you should. If you can smash your neighbors, do it. If you don’t, it is because you can’t, not because you choose not to.
I’m begging the anger to flood through me but it doesn’t really respond. Tomorrow, I will be angry. For now, I am just so sad. A family was bringing their baby home at a time when I often travel; in a place I often am. They stood where I have stood many times, waiting for buses I often take.
An Arab came from the north, from an Arab neighborhood and rammed his car into people waiting for buses. This happened a short time ago, near Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, where tens of thousands transfer from the train to buses and from buses to the train. A guard stopped the terrorist. In a flash, everything changed.
It is something I have never been able to comprehend. The first time I expressed it was when seven young girls were shot by a Jordanian soldier while on a class trip to Naharayim. “How do you send a child out in the morning and bury them at night?” I remember crying to my husband. It isn’t possible. We can’t do it.
In anger I will write sometime soon – of the absurdity of compromising with an enemy that sees this as weakness; of the willingness to show restraint where none should be shown. Of a government that encourages silence when our trains, cars, soldiers, babies are attacked…that is for tomorrow.
For now, in pain, I surrender to the sadness as Israel faces yet another funeral and families are rushing to the hospital.