Personalizing Terror


Driving into work today with Yael, a woman with whom I car pool, I turned up the volume of the radio to hear the 7 o’clock news. Another terrorist attack, this time at the entrance of the Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem, killed seven people, five hours after seven were killed near an army base outside Tel Aviv.

This has been somewhat of a routine for a while now – drive in to work, listen to the news on the radio and brace ourselves for the worst. Only this time, when the names of the victims were read out over the air, Yael broke down and cried. Dr. David Appelbaum, head of the ER at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, was the boss of Yael’s sister, a nurse, and Yael had met him on a number of occasions. Dr Appelbaum was killed, along with his daughter, who was about to get married tonight.

Israel is such a small country that almost everyone knows someone who has been injured or killed in a terror attack. Unfortunately, I am no exception. My friend, Matthew Eisenfeld, with whom I learned in seminary 10 years ago, was murdered by a suicide bomber over 7 years ago. I had seen him about a month before, in Jerusalem with his fiancee Sarah Duker. I was about to return to Australia and had wished them luck with their impending marriage. Little did I know that this would be the last time that I would see Matt. I still think about him from time to time.

Then there is my wife’s friend, Danielle, who was hit in the head with a rock thrown by a palestinian terrorist at the car in which she was travelling. She was on her way back from her engagement party. Luckily, she survived, and my wife and I were dancing at her wedding months later. But she has been forever emotionally and physically scarred by the experience.

My brother-in-law’s friend, Ari Weiss, was killed in battle against palestinian gunmen, a few weeks after the Jerusalem Post did a feature story on how his mother made food for him and his unit. I recently saw Ari’s parents at a wedding and realized that they would never be at his wedding.

My own brush with terror occurred late last year when terrorists detonated a device under a tanker-truck driving into a fuel depot not far from where I work. Had the fire not been extinguished as quickly as it was, the resulting fireball would have killed me and everyone else in this area. At least that is what they said on the radio. I try not to think about it too much.

In the meantime, we try to go on with our lives, knowing that the next terror attack is probably just around the corner.

Update 9:30AM: Israel radio reports that the Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, has said that 3 Australian citizens are among the wounded in the Hillel cafe suicide bombing. I wonder if I know any of them.

Update 4:15PM: Blogger Tal G, who lives close to the Cafe Hillel where the suicide bombing occured last night, knows someone who was hurt by shrapnel from the bombing. I hope he fully recovers, Tal.

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A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media