Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Terrorist Attack

Something strange happened today in class.

I was sitting and listening to a lecture about the current Social Worker Strike in Israel. We were learning about the public service sector of the Israeli economy. A little bit after 1500 IST, Dan turned his iPhone towards me and all I saw was a vague headline on Haaretz announcing that a bomb had exploded near the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem.

I was taking notes on my computer so I started to pull up new sites, Haaretz, the New York Times and BBC. The first story I read said that there was a bomb that exploded and 18 people were injured. Quickly I went to Twitter and Facebook to post that there had been an attack and I was safe.

Slowly but surely the teachers in the room started to get phone calls and texts. The students that have kids in school here started getting calls and Dan and I were still trying to get more information waiting to be told what was going on. One of our instructors was sitting behind me and she tapped me on the shoulder and asked if something happened.

Not wanting to disrupt the class, I quickly scrawled her a note.
near central bus station
18 injured
nothing else on Haaretz yet"

As more people were in and out of the classroom, and some of the administrators were coming down and talking to people at the kindergarden that is on campus, our speaker started to catch on to the fact that something was odd. She asked if something had happened, and the few of us that had been able to get online explained that there had been an explosion near the bus station. Haaretz was then reporting that 25 people were injured, 4 of them severely. But that was the best I could get at that point in the afternoon.

We were told that we could leave the room to call people if we needed to, and we continued a discussion while the instructors tried to figure out what to tell us. They hadn't received any good information either.

When class ended, they told us to make sure to have any HUC students that were not at school at that point to check in so they could find everyone and make sure we were all safe. And we all are okay.

The latest story I read reported that, 1 woman had died, more than 30 more were injured. And that's the best I can find.

I continued to read other news stories online and they said that there was increased violence on the Gaza border since last weekend, including Palestinian Civilians and Militants killed by the Israeli Air Force (IAF). Additionally I read about many more rockets that had been fired from Gaza into cities and territory in the south of Israel.

Then there is the terrible murder of the Fogel family in the Settlement Itamar two weeks ago. I know it might be jumping to conclusions, but it's human nature to think that these events must be linked somehow. If they aren't, these are terrible coincidences.

I continue to hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. But as I'm studying the conflict that has started in the 1930's, I have begun to realize that the situation here is not so black and white. A lot of the rhetoric I hear wants to paint the picture that way. As it is in most cases, there is a lot more to the story than 2-sides.

I don't have a solution to solve this problem and I don't know that anyone does. What I have come to understand is that it takes discussion and understanding. Extremism on any side will get us nowhere. I firmly believe that we need to be able to look at a situation from many angles at once. Only when you try to understand the other perspective (not agree with, but accept that another person has a different perspective) can you begin to solve problems like this.

These thoughts kept racing through my head as I walked home this evening. My eyes could have been playing tricks on me, but I thought I could still see lingering smoke in the direction of the Bus Station. But when the bus I was passing backfired, I jumped.

I'm not scared. I don't think that I am in any danger living here for the next few months. I am a little worried that these senseless, violent acts could escalate. For now I will continue to do my work, go to school and avoid crowded places.

It's weird. It has been three years since the last attacks. Haaretz and Reuters have collaborated and created a timeline of attacks.

Right now, I'm safe. My friends are safe.
My thoughts and prayers are with the people that have been affected by the bombing today.
But for the next few days I will just put my "Israeli Face" on and go on.

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