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Our Heroes and Theirs

Our Heroes and Theirs

Our heroes were fighting to save lives. Their heroes were sowing death and destruction.


Last night's terror struck close to home. The boom of the blast at Cafe Hillel on Emek Refaim shook the windows of our house and left no doubt that we were hit again -- this time in our own neighborhood.

Our son, Yossi, was on the phone with his brother, Momo, asking when he would be back so they could watch another episode on DVD of "24," the addictive U.S. series about terrorism.

Momo was crossing Emek Refaim, which is two blocks from our house, and they both heard the blast. Momo, 16, is a trained paramedic with Magen David Adom. He took out his plastic gloves, which he keeps in his school backpack, and ran to the cafe to help the injured. Yossi ran out the door with my wife Jane to get Momo.

Momo was one of the first to arrive at the scene. As he described it later, it was a scene straight out of Dante or Eli Wiesel. Victims were screaming and strewn about. A group of bystanders was attempting to put out a fire that was consuming a man. Amputated legs and arms were lying in pools of blood. A man's head was in the middle of the street.

Momo acted according to the training he received this summer, in a course designed to teach him how to handle these kinds of events. As soon as the lead ambulance arrived he was told who to evacuate and helped carry the injured on stretchers. Within ten minutes it was over, and the amazing Israeli emergency medical teams had again acted with alacrity and professionalism. His mother and brother found him covered with victims' blood and walked him home.

I was in the office when the blast hit and was frantic with worry because I could not find anyone by phone. Finally I got a call from my son, Yossi, telling me that our family was okay and that we would meet at home.

Getting home and seeing your son's clothes splattered with blood of a terror attack is a parental experience I will not forget.

Getting home and seeing your son's clothes splattered with blood of a terror attack is a parental experience I will not forget -- the relief of seeing him unhurt, mixed together with the pain, outrage and grief of an attack so close to home.

After Momo showered, we together watched on TV the surreal scenes of our beautiful neighborhood hit, hurt and bleeding. Momo was curled up with his dog, Lucy, hugging her and trying to regain some semblance of normalcy. A sixteen-year-old boy, having done his heroic work and having seen scenes that one should never see, trying to return to what's left of his adolescence.

We watched the scenes of jubilation in Gaza, with thousands of Palestinians taking to the streets in spontaneous celebration, delirious with joy at the "quality" attacks. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and others praised the "bravery" of the suicide bombers and shouted their satisfaction. He in particular mentioned the "great" Abu Shnab, the "engineer" of dozens of Israeli deaths whose death was now avenged.

I was struck by the contrast between the two societies. Our heroes were out on Emek Refaim fighting to save lives, to practice emergency medicine, to reduce casualties. Their heroes were sowing death and destruction; their engineering was the science of terror.

This morning as the bright Jerusalem sun came up again over our neighborhood, most of the outward signs of destruction had been washed away and cleaned up. Despite the continued terror alerts and torrent of news about yesterday's attacks, the children need to go to school, to get on with our lives. But the news contained more bitter tidings that literally took my breath away. Among the dead in last night's blast were Dr. David Appelbaum and his 20-year-old daughter, Nava.

Nava was due to be married tonight in a joyous wedding of 500 guests. David was a doctor of emergency medicine who was a fixture in Jerusalem's medical scene, having treated hundreds of terror victims as the head of the emergency department in Shaarei Zedek Hospital. He was the founder of Terem, Jerusalem's 24-hour private emergency medical clinic, and my best friend's partner. He was a learned man, a kind man, a tzaddik -- a righteous person. He was a true hero of Jerusalem.

I am letting Momo sleep in this morning. I tried to wake him but he said he needed some more sleep. His teacher from school just called to say that he heard from Momo's friends that he had a "tough night" and was among the first on the terror scene. He suggested that after we attend this morning's funeral for Dr. Appelbaum and his daughter that I take him to school, so he could be with his friends and talk out what has happened. My son and his friends -- true heroes of Jerusalem.

September 13, 2003

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 14

(14) Anonymous, December 5, 2003 12:00 AM

There will never be peace...

I think Golda Meir said it right when she said ""There will be peace only
when the Arabs love their children more than they hate the Jews."

(13) sherry, October 25, 2003 12:00 AM

Touching story but...

There is always a reason to a cause, that Palistinian caused such great pain yet have u wondered how much pain he must have felt, which made him do that. The two societies do have their differences but if both sides arn't considered neither side will gain peace and nothing will be improved.

(12) David Raybould, October 15, 2003 12:00 AM

Thank you

So well put.

(11) Anonymous, October 4, 2003 12:00 AM

I agree with JoeStevens....

Yes, rhe answer is not to kill or expel old Yasser, but to try him for crimes against humanity, and the world, including the Palestinian refugees from which he draws his initial victims, will have to co operate on this matter...

(10) Oscar H Sanders, September 16, 2003 12:00 AM

My heart cries out for you and all you suffer.

My Heart cries out to you and all the families that are on the frontline of this war. It is the hate that still comes from Ishmaels jelous heart, he has become totally insane with rage.

Every day they do not stop from teaching their childern to hate and kill. They are a cancer on the face of the earth.

Israel has no choice, it must defend and it must remain free. Taking out the small snakes will only prolong the suffering for both sides.

Everyone knows who must go, you cannot reason with a snake, you remove it.

May our G_d give you peace, it is hard for me to understand how you can hold back your anger and hurt to the extent that you do. You are a Great People and Nation. You are the very apple of G_d's eye! I pray that He strengthens you even more for what lays ahead for Israel.

I would rejoice to see it end for you, but I know the nature of the snake and the only answer is to cut his head(s) off. To delay is to only cultivate his jelious anger on Israel.

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