The Palestinian Rampage in Jerusalem
Anyone who has lived in Israel during the last forty years is likely to have witnessed the horrific consequences of a Palestinian terrorist attack on innocent civilians. July 4th 1975 was the final day of my year-long sabbatical in Jerusalem. On a normal Friday I walked downtown to Zion Square to buy challah and flowers for Shabbat. That morning I went instead to the Western Wall to leave a brief farewell note wedged between my favorite stones. Exiting the Old City through Jaffa Gate I witnessed a stream of police cars, ambulances and military jeeps – with sirens screaming – racing toward downtown Jerusalem. Minutes earlier the thunderous explosion of a bomb concealed in a refrigerator had devastated Zion Square, killing 14 Israelis and wounding more than 60. Fatah, founded by Yasser Arafat, proudly claimed responsibility.
Several decades later, my flight had barely landed at Ben-Gurion Airport when our group (Americans for a Safe Israel) was transported to the Park Hotel in Netanya, site of the recent horrific Passover massacre when 30 Seder participants – including Holocaust survivors, two married couples, and a father and his daughter – were murdered by a Hamas suicide bomber. It seemed that every visit to Hebron immediately followed – or preceded – a Palestinian terrorist attack against the most ancient Jewish community in the world, whose origins are vividly described in Parshat Chaye Sarah, read in synagogues last Shabbat.
Give Palestinians credit – in Hell – for their diabolical achievements: their ingenuity in launching terrorist attacks against Jews is unrivaled since the Nazi era. But in the current climate of surging anti-Semitic violence throughout Europe, enthusiasm among demented British and American faculty and students for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movements flourishes. The United Nations, palpitating to delegitimize Israel ever since it notoriously proclaimed that “Zionism is racism,” is now poised to welcome “Palestine,” which has surely earned the International Hate Prize for its invidious demonization of the Jewish state.
Within weeks after the Israel Defense Forces had finally squelched the incessant barrage of Hamas rockets from Gaza, and destroyed its cross-border tunnels, Palestinians once again demonstrated their diabolical ingenuity for devising new weapons of terror against innocent Israelis. In their current surge, Palestinians have been driving their cars into Jewish civilians whose only crime was walking or waiting near the light rail that runs through Jerusalem.
It began in late October when an enraged Hamas member from the Silwan neighborhood, where Jews had recently purchased homes from an Arab seller, drove into a group of Jews standing on a station platform. One of his two murdered victims was Chaya Zissel Braun, a three-month-old Israeli-American baby whose parents were returning from her first visit to the Western Wall. Two weeks later another Hamas member, whose brother had murdered a police officer and was released from prison in the Gilad Shalit exchange, slammed into pedestrians at a different light rail station, killing a border policeman and Shalom Ba’adani, a seventeen-year-old yeshiva student who was biking to the Western Wall.
Only slightly less barbaric than these targeted murders was the Palestinian artistry that quickly appeared in their wake, eagerly prompting further attacks. One creatively animated cartoon showed three religious Jews with a Star of David on their hats fleeing a pursuing car painted with the colors of the Palestinian flag. Another, labeled the “Run Over Organization,” called on followers to “hit the gas . . . for Al-Aqsa,” the Temple Mount mosque. Palestinians were maniacally urged to “Run over, friend, run over the foreign settler!”
These car murders resonated with powerful personal impact. During the interval between them, while crossing a street near my home, a careless – indeed oblivious – driver slammed his van into me and sent me into free fall. In what easily might have been my final instant of life, had I landed on my head instead of my badly fractured ankle, I was blessed to receive reassurance from a caring witness, my guardian angel until the ambulance arrived.
Safely post-surgery now, and immobilized for another six weeks, I have ample time to ponder the cruel and benevolent twists of fate. For no discernible reason, I was spared and others were not. My gratitude for life is rivaled by my sorrow that Chaya and Shalom – and other recent victims of merciless Palestinian madmen – could not also live. As I write, news reports feature today’s horrific synagogue atrocity where Palestinian cousins slaughtered four Jews in prayer and a Druze policeman in the deadliest terrorist attack in Jerusalem in nearly six years.
Where is the outrage – and condemnation? Once again, not for the first time in my life, Jews are alone. But there is a resolute Jewish state that must do whatever is necessary to protect its citizens from demented Palestinian terrorists. A worthy guide might be found in Deuteronomy 19:21: “Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye . . . . ”
Jerold S. Auerbach is a frequent contributor to The Algemeiner