We all remember September 11 and where we were when the world we knew was shattered.
I remember September 11 as the bookend of a terrible year. A year earlier, on September 28, 2000, I was on a number 2 bus going to my job in the Old City when Israeli soldiers boarded. They shouted at us to quickly get off the bus for our own safety. Ariel Sharon had visited the Temple Mount and the second Intifada started. There were raised voices and pushing as I walked to work under the watchful eyes of armed soldiers. Outside my office, I could hear clashes between soldiers and rioters. My sense of security had been shattered. For the next few months, my commute to work became tense as stones would rain down on the bus as we passed through hostile neighborhoods.
That was just the beginning. Soon after, there was the lynching in Ramallah and nightly shootings into random apartments in Gilo. There was a bus bombing in Machane Yehuda. I don’t know why, but in my mind, I can hear the explosion and then the immediate sound of sirens racing through the city.
In November 2000, we had to return to the States for personal reasons hoping we could return soon. The bombings in Israel never stopped. They bombed malls, buses and discos hoping to hurt as many innocents as they could. Who can forget the images of the chidlren who lost limbs in the Kfar Darom school bus attack, the teenagers who were maimed and murdered in the Dolphinarium discotheque, or the young lives snuffed out shopping in a Mall?
On August 9, 2001, the terrorists detonated a bomb in Sbarro’s pizza during the lunchtime rush. A family with 5 of their children had come that day to escape from the frequent shootings in the North. Only 2 of their daughters survived the day with injuries. The three older brothers who did not join the family outing were left to identify the bodies of their parents and their three siblings who were killed. One hundred and twenty people were injured and 15 were killed for the crime of going to eat pizza.
My husband and I moved into an apartment in Washington Heights in the middle of August. I was somewhat relieved as every few weeks we heard about another horrific attack on women and children who were going about their daily lives.
Yet, terror did not stop at Israel’s borders just because I had wished it to be so. It visited the United States with a viciousness and inhumanity we had come to know over the previous year. This time, 3000 fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers were killed and a country was shattered.
That event changed us all, but it did not change them. Ten years later, the disregard for human life has not ceased. This disregard does not read maps and does not respect borders. It bows to no politician and does not listen to reason. It is evil.
In the last ten years, our world has tried to deny the existence of evil giving reasons and rationale for its existence. But having witnessed the evil, and having seen the faces of the victims I know one thing. This evil cannot be explained, and it cannot be placated. It must be recognized as such. It must be fought and protested. Because, if we allow evil to take root in one place, it won’t be satisfied. It will merely spread its tentacles into our lives wherever we may be.