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No more laughter

We are always surprised by terror because humankind can't exist as if every moment is going to end with death
A composite photo of the four Israeli soldiers killed when a terrorist rammed his truck into a group of cadets on January 8, 2017 in Jerusalem. Clockwise from left, IDF Lieutenant Yael Yekutiel, IDF Cadet Shir Hajaj, IDF Cadet Erez Orbach, IDF Cadet Shira Tzur. (Handout photos from IDF spokesperson)
A composite photo of the four Israeli soldiers killed when a terrorist rammed his truck into a group of cadets on January 8, 2017 in Jerusalem. Clockwise from left, IDF Lieutenant Yael Yekutiel, IDF Cadet Shir Hajaj, IDF Cadet Erez Orbach, IDF Cadet Shira Tzur. (Handout photos from IDF spokesperson)

No more dreams. No more plans. No more laughter. No more anything. Left behind are broken hearts. Broken plans. Shattered dreams. Parents who will never recover.

I imagine the happy sounds on the bus. It was a “yom kef”, special day of touring and learning and pleasure in the brisk Jerusalem January. It was fun, and then it wasn’t. Suddenly it was terror and blood and death. Only loss. No gain. For anyone.

Clearly no gain for the dead terrorist. I will never understand the why of such actions. He might have lived to see his child mature, and to die in his bed of some malady of old age. Instead he shocked the world (the world is always shocked) and died for absolutely no gain. No gain. Jerusalem will not name a street in his memory.

And no gain for the young vibrant victims who were at the wrong place. Had they only known in advance. Innocents, killed in their prime for no gain at all.

And the emails and whatsapps flying across the internets. Ima. I’m ok. Sometimes, oftentimes nowadays, the whatsapp comes before Ima has even heard the news. And Ima breathes a painful sigh of relief. The angel of death has passed her this time. She will ache for her sisters who breathe no sighs of relief. But this ima will recover. The sisters will not.

To be an Israeli is to have many ani beseder moments. And to fear the alternative. I awoke this morning in New Jersey to a whatsapp from one of our grandsons. He’s in Jerusalem now, on a break from his university studies in the US. As soon as I saw the caption, the one that said I’m ok, I knew. Something bad had happened. My heart aches for the mothers and grandmothers, the ones who did not receive the I’m ok message. The ani beseder message.

But this plague that the world calls terrorism, for lack of a better word, or is gratuitous violence better, is now worldwide. No longer confined to Israel. For many years now the entire planet has been subject to the senseless killings of people who were thinking of what to cook for dinner or what to wear to a wedding or how to respond to a teacher’s comments or should we go swimming after work or infinite other ors that did not include death, sudden, abrupt and insane.

I always think of the 9/11 attacks and how many many victims were men or women who were no doubt fearful of visiting Israel. Terrorism there. Stay safe in your nice high rise office building in New York City. The perverse ugliness of terrorism is that it is always shocking, never expected.

I feel deep frustration when I see the reactions of police and military. They are, sadly, impotent. Now, after this week’s attack at Fort Lauderdale Airport, no doubt there will be increased security at the baggage claim areas throughout the world. Too little too late. The terrorists/killers won’t be back. They’ll find something new and unexpected. You, officers, soldiers, security experts, are entrusted with our safety and, yet, your security is so shabby, so pathetic. If you can’t anticipate the violence, stop wasting time and money convincing us that you can. And stop, please, telling us that there were no warnings. Did you really expect this crazy guy in Fort Lauderdale to send you a warning? Maybe he’s not the only crazy guy! And did you expect the Palestinian truck driver in Talpiot to include you in his plans?

Terror, mass violence, are such unexpected parts of our daily lives. They shouldn’t be unexpected. Yet they always are. After all, humankind cannot exist as if every moment of every day is going to end with death, dismemberment, murder.

My mind always goes back to the fateful day that my daughters and I avoided being blown apart at Kikar Tzion. We missed the attack because we were lost in Ir Atika. It was upsetting to be lost. In fact, it saved our lives. The few moments spent finding our way to Shaar Yafo were all it took to keep us down the hill from Kikar Tzion.

I got another I’m ok whatsapp on the day of the Brussels Airport attack. Our eldest daughter was in the airport when innocents were murdered. That news had not yet made it to Herzliya. CNN was slower on the job than Amy. Luckily.

We are, each of us, just a hair away from disaster. It’s time for it to stop but no one inspires confidence that they have any idea of how to stop it. But for Sunday’s victims, I pray for a refuah shlemah, a full recovery, for the injured. I cry with Am Yisrael, and for their Imaot, their mothers, for those beautiful lives lost. I cry for the fathers and siblings and perhaps the lovers and friends. I cry for the world which has lost more bright lights. Maybe the cure for a dread disease lay in the future of one of the victims. Who knows? May they rest in peace. Each of at the very beginning of their precious lives. May the terrorist, the mechabel, rot in Hell!

About the Author
Rosanne Skopp is a wife, mother of four, grandmother of fourteen, and great-grandmother of two. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and travels back and forth between homes in New Jersey and Israel. She is currently writing a family history.
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