March 23, 2011
Terror Returns to Jerusalem
Around noon today I passed through the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem, as I often do. A lot of people do. It’s part of a large transportation hub that also includes many local bus stops at the nearby convention center, Binyanei HaUmma. Just a few hours after I was there, a bomb concealed in a bag at one of those streetside bus stops exploded. It reportedly injured some 40 people, one fatally and several others seriously.
Living in Israel, you get used to a certain background level of news about bombs and missile attacks, especially involving Sderot. In recent weeks there has been a slow but noticeable rise in the number of those incidents, notably the rocket attacks a month ago on the larger city of Be’er Sheva. Earlier this week a rocket fell in Ashkelon. Both cities were attacked again today. But we Jerusalemites, much farther from Gaza, have felt secure on our streets. The ubiquitous security checks had come to seem more like a ritual than a necessity. It had been three years since the last terror attack in the city, the massacre at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva. Today’s news jolts us back to reality.
Signs are up around the city to mark the route of the first Jerusalem Marathon, set for this Friday. Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat, is an enthusiastic runner, and he instituted the marathon as part of his campaign to show the city as a normal, peaceful, and fun. He says he will still participate in the marathon and called upon residents to return to their normal lives. Most probably will. If the past is any guide, Jerusalemites will davka make a point of keeping to their routines in the wake of this latest attack.
Sadly, the world’s commentators will probably keep to their routines too, pointing fingers of blame towards the usual targets and claiming to know who is retaliating for what. Like the proverbial Bourbons, they learn nothing and forget nothing. Meanwhile, those of us who live in this part of the world have more than our opinions to worry about, starting with the victims and their families.