A Letter About the First Recent Bus Bombing in Jerusalem
Today was my daughter's first day of school.
After about three weeks of ulpan, her spring semester at Hebrew University in Jerusalem started today. With friends and roommates, she got up in the morning, dressed, ate breakfast, and took her bus to the Hebrew University Campus.
My wife and I woke up early this morning, with winds swirling outside making it too noisy to sleep. Not yet fully awake, unable to sleep, and with cartoons and church services on most TV channels, we tuned to CNN and the first words we heard were "the terrible bus bombing in Jerusalem."
With no immediate details other than 23 dead, CNN going to commercial and then other stories, and no way of calling our daughter to check on her safety since it was mid-afternoon in Israel and she would be nowhere near her dormitory phone, I turned on my computer, praying that there would be an email message from her, or at least some details from one of the mailing lists distributed by the Israeli Consulate.
The list of messages in my emailbox scrolled, one by one, on my screen and I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw one from my daughter with the subject line "i'm okay," but that relief was mixed with guilt about feeling relief when 23 other families would be burying their loved ones.
Guilt, and anger, and despair.
What point is there in a peace process when one side tries to make peace but the other side bombs buses, again and again?
I want peace so much that I am willing to give away much that is rightfully mine to achieve it. (That, of course, is rhetorical. I don't have the power to give away anything, and by what "is rightfully mine" I refer to territory presently under Israeli administration which Israel has at least as much legal and historical right to as anyone else.)
Is it possible to achieve peace when terrorists from one side repeatedly murder people they don't know and who have never done anything to them, simply because they hate Jews? When terrorists from one side has so much hatred they will repeatedly commit atrocities which also only hurt their own brethren, increasing their own misery? When these terrorists, far from being ostracized, get adulation from masses of their own people? When one hears empty words for such actions from the now elected leader of those people, but that same elected leader protects the terrorist infrastructure and eulogizes the worst of them when they meet their just desserts?
I am crying out for peace; Jews all over the world are crying out for peace; Israelis are crying out for peace.
But peace requires the efforts of both sides. Unless the Palestinian Arabs stop straddling the fence and start getting their house in order, Gaza-Jericho First will not just become Gaza-Jericho Last, but even the most dovish of Israeli governments will find itself compelled to go back into areas it gladly left, in order to perform the first obligation of any government, the safety and protection of its citizens.