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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Sleepy no more

Beer Sheva, the city where I work, has long enjoyed a reputation for being outside the fray of Palestinian violence... a sleepy little city outside the scope of the current hostilities. Back in the ‘80s there was an isolated attack… but the ‘Capital of the Negev’ has largely dodged much of the pain suffered by the rest of the country.

That came to an end today.

I was at lunch with a delegation from a medium sized Asian country’s Ministry of Defense when police cars and ambulance began speeding past the window of our restaurant. The manager of the restaurant switched the CD of Louis Armstrong tunes to Reshet Bet Radio where the announcer was already reporting two nearly simultaneous bus bombings a few blocks from where we were sitting.

People, and emergency vehicles continued to stream past as we explained to our foreign guests (through their translator) what was going on. While the Asians absorbed the information and talked in hushed tones amongst themselves, we Israelis made quick cell phone calls to our families to assure them that we were all right.

The rest of the lunch meeting was conducted as though under water… everybody and everything seeming to move in slow motion. At the end of the meal, we exchanged gifts and then saw our visitors into their waiting limousine.

As I sit here in my office, I am still shaking with anger… and feeling more than a bit useless. I can’t give blood, having done that just three weeks ago before going abroad. I have no particular skills or knowledge that would be of any help at the site of the two blasts.

So I sit here and wonder idly who was unlucky today. Who woke up this morning and committed the unforgivable crime of going about their business on a Beer Sheva municipal bus. Who is writhing in agony in a hospital 5 minutes from my comfortable air-conditioned office… and who has ceased writhing.

Since I can’t do anything… instead I’ll ask a few questions in order to gain some clarity:

Where is the outrage from the ‘moderates'? Where is the spontaneous condemnation from the estimated 1.2 billion Muslims who practice this so-called ‘religion of peace’? If this violence is being perpetrated by a small radical minority… surely there must be some murmur of discomfiture from the rest, right? Why can’t the world’s media machines with their ravenous 24 hour news cycles locate even one credible Muslim to make such a statement?

Actions speak louder than words… far louder. So before anyone gives me any more lectures about the silent majority of Muslims who simply want to live in peace… maybe they should take a moment to consider that the Muslims of the world seem to have a somewhat different definition of peace than the rest of us.

From this point on… as far as I’m concerned, if you are a Muslim and you do not loudly and unequivocally condemn the unspeakable savagery of your coreligionists… you are as guilty as the animals who kidnap and behead random victims… who blow airliners full of human beings out of the sky… and who strap on explosive belts in order to blow up innocent civilians on the streets of a (fomerly) sleepy desert city.

Posted by David Bogner on August 31, 2004 | Permalink

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Comments

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It's simply unfathomable.

Glad you and yours are ok.

Posted by: Gail | Aug 31, 2004 6:42:09 PM

David,

When I heard this news I thought immediately of you and your family. Glad you are all safe, but knowing that you were within a few blocks makes me uneasy.

Godspeed!

Posted by: Jim | Aug 31, 2004 7:55:50 PM

Glad to hear you weren't physically hurt; I too thought of you immediately.

I also had, for the first time, the unsettling task of grabbing the cell phone and dialing my family to reassure them that Beersheva is not close to our new home and that we were unhurt. Not a part of our klita I ever wanted to experience, and certainly not this quickly.

Posted by: Andy Levy-Stevenson | Aug 31, 2004 8:33:36 PM

I, too, thought of you when I heard the news. I'm glad you and yours are safe. I'm sorry others aren't. I know the slight guilt that comes from being glad it wasn't you and your family, and the dread of knowing it could be next time. Hang in there.

Posted by: beth | Aug 31, 2004 9:11:17 PM

David, shake with anger, but don't feel useless. Everyday you do something worthwhile -- you live in Eretz Yisrael. I dried my tears just long enough to see that it was a busy day for the religion of peace -- 12 hostages murdered in Iraq and a subway bombing in Moscow in addition to the bombings in Beersheva.

Posted by: Greg Ireland | Sep 1, 2004 12:18:15 AM

I must admit, I had to fight back the tears as I heard the news. And being a non-Hebrew speaker it was frustrating when the only word I knew on the radio was "pigua". Then again, that's all I really needed to hear.
Like my visit last year, I have been privvy to the pain of being in israel after a pigua. A somber moment in my vacation.
I am happy to hear you are ok.
((hugs))

Posted by: celestial blue | Sep 1, 2004 1:47:49 AM

klong............ just when you think things are settling down. B"H your family is ok. I do not know what else to say.

Posted by: Faye | Sep 1, 2004 3:06:30 AM

David
B"H you are okay. Just being there is doing something very active and positive.

Posted by: Marjorie | Sep 1, 2004 4:09:59 AM

On August 31, on the CNN website, three headlines, right in a row, read:
•Police: Nine killed in Moscow subway blast
•16 killed in Israel bus bombings
•Iraqi militants: 12 hostages killed
And, as is always the case, there is an enormous silence from the Muslim world. Sometime in the next day or so there will be a few pro forma condemnations or expressions of regret, but the silence of Muslims worldwide speaks as loud as the bomb blasts.

Posted by: Charles Kemp | Sep 1, 2004 5:34:32 AM

you get right back on that plane Mr. and bring that family right back here.
(said while shaking my pointed finger at you)
-be well.

Posted by: Lisa | Sep 1, 2004 2:40:59 PM

David,

I put a link to your site here.

http://forum.hagalil.com/board-a/messages/279/17396.html?

My own account of yesterday starting 15:07 appears on this site as well, however in German.

Posted by: ruth | Sep 1, 2004 10:50:53 PM

David, I unabashedly admit that my first thought wasn't of you, but of my cousin and her hubby, who have only been married a week. But it is good to see you post.

Posted by: jennifer | Sep 1, 2004 11:45:48 PM

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