It has been 17 years since I awoke to the sound of helicopters buzzing over my apartment in the early morning hours. I had made aliyah several weeks before, but I was already in tune with the sounds of possible trouble. My cellphone was ringing furiously as my dread mounted when I realized something had gone terribly wrong somewhere nearby. My caller, a friend named Tal, confirmed my fears, telling me that my favorite blues club across the street from the beach had been attacked.
While people today are dealing with the global pandemic and its effects on our lives, nothing is quite as bad as hearing, and then seeing, that friends have been caught up in the violence one usually sees on the evening news. An accidental and unnecessary exposure to a viral agent becoming a worldwide pandemic does not compare with the deliberateness of a terrorist attack.
The remoteness of attacks in Jerusalem or Hebron take on a different light when one realizes that the violence has come home to roost. Many of my friends were injured and three died from their injuries. Even as I visited one of my friends injured in the attack in the hospital, that was the first time I had been exposed to terrorism in such a brutal fashion. Putting a face to a pigua means one must internalize what one has seen, but how does one do that when they have had no prior experience with such things? I had recently lost a cousin, Elad, (Z’l) to terrorists, but he was a soldier, and being in an IDF uniform was reason enough to kill him, according to the terrorists. However, this attack meant that in the place of soldiers, innocent citizens were being targeted.
Before April 30th, 2003, I had always been a reasonable person who liked to reason things out after careful deliberation and study, but this? What possible reason could there be for such violence? Terrorism is not carried out because one is frustrated or poor. That is a myth and it should be dismissed as invalid. The root cause of terror is hatred with a side order of jealousy and resentment. And there will always be someone to take advantage of that hatred to foster resentment and then turn that resentment into a suicide-belt carrying member of a group of people who should not share the same earth as the rest of us.
Yom HaZichron falls during the same timeframe on the calendar as the pigua at Mike’s Place. It does not lesson my feelings of sadness to know how many thousands of Israelis I share this date of mourning with, nor do I have any more answers as to why them? The randomness of violence against Jews is nothing new to our history. As the pandemic recedes in places, we are still being targeted for simply being who we are.
The three beautiful people who were killed that night and the more than 50 people who were injured will never forget that night. Neither should we forget them or their ability to make us laugh like Yanai, or their dedication to becoming an olah hadesha, like Dominique. We differ from terrorists in that we do not see ourselves as “martyrs” for a misbegotten cause. We are just trying to live our lives in peace.
For Yanai, Ran and Dominique, Z’l and for Avi Tabib, who saved many lives while risking his own.