On December 1, 2001, my husband stood on an unfamiliar street in the heart of an unfamiliar country. He had just turned eighteen and his life was shit. He just wanted a little something to numb the pain.
This was the place to be, he was told. Here was the action. By day, a bustling pedestrian mall, by night, a refuge for the down and out to come nurse their pain with whatever was available. This was where the action would be.
The street was full.
He was standing in an alleyway, right next to Burger King, when the first bomber blew up. He told himself it was a sonic boom. Then he walked a few feet forward and saw the carnage.
A man lay on the floor in front of him with blood pouring out of his head. People ran past, up and down the street, oozing blood, their clothes torn…their hands holding pieces of themselves.
He walked down, to the right, propelled by the masses of people. There were bodies on the floor. It was surreal. Smoky. Dark. Chaos.
And then the other bomber burst into a shooting flame, rising above the buildings, right into the crowds running away.
That’s when he realized there was nowhere to go.
That’s when he realized what it means to live with enemies.
By the time the third bomb, hidden in a car up the street blocking access to emergency personnel blew up, a new reality had formed in his mind.
Half a bottle of vodka later, as he watched the news play the scenes he witnessed over and over again, he noticed he was still shaking.
He was eighteen, in an unfamiliar land.
* * * * * * * * *
We’ve been reading the news and following up on what happened in Boston. I don’t know if we have a right to comment. I don’t think it’s fair to compare. But I do have one thing on my mind.
That night, back in 2001, 13 people died; 11 civilians and 2 terrorists, and 188 civilians were injured. When the death toll is counted, there is always a pause before this is said, but it is said. Two bodies, however mangled and destroyed they are, are gathered and taken care of. I don’t know if they are buried with anything more than a shovel and a box, or how often they get returned to their families, but they are not left to rot.
Because the dead, despite who they were before or what they did, deserve a bit of dirt to disintegrate into.
It’s not the least or the most we can do. It’s not a favor. It’s not anti-justice, or pro-terrorism. It’s humane.
We live in Israel. We suffer at the hands of people who think we have no right to live. But we maintain a spirit of humanity that we can’t deny. We come from dust and we return to dust. Once we are nothing but flesh and bone we must return to the ground, despite our breathing moments.
There is a terrorist who is nothing more than a body now.
As long as he lies on a table with nowhere to go, he has taken away an entire country’s ability to rise above in the fight for a higher ethical code for humanity.