My composure was shattered along with the bus’s front windshield. The man in front of me cried out when a boulder fractured his arm. More rocks were thrown and as the gunshots started I, along with most of the other passengers, slid out of my seat.
Fifteen minutes or so earlier my ten-year-old son and I gratefully boarded the Shilo bus, glad to be out of the cold, dark evening and on our way home to a warm supper. There were two vacant seats in the second row from the front but my son wasn’t interested in them.
“I want to sit in the back,” he declared.
“Sitting all the way back there makes me nauseous,” I informed him.
“So, you sit here and I’ll sit back there.”
My suspicious American background made me hesitate but we were both on the same bus. If anyone bothered him he could just cry out. Besides, my stubborn child had his mind set on sitting in the last row. I swallowed my misgivings and gave in. Now, as I lowered myself to the dirty floor of the bus I regretted my decision.
“Are you okay?” I called out to my son. “Get down on the ground! Say some psalms!”
It was hard to hear his response because of the hysterical woman in the middle of the bus. However other passengers assured me he was okay. While on the ground everyone speculated on the cause of the attack. The general consensus was it was the Arabs’ response to the upcoming Madrid Peace Conference beginning the following day, October 29th, 1991.
Just as suddenly as the attack began it ended. Once over I discovered that the gunshots I’d heard had come from our soldiers’ guns and not from terrorists. That was somewhat calming but I was still a bundle of nerves when the bus finally arrived at the Shilo Junction
I didn’t need to ask the driver to make a special stop for me and my son. The IDF had set up a roadblock and was not letting any traffic through. While our driver and the army commander discussed the situation my son and I alighted from the bus and were met with a disturbing site.
A number of young men were standing at the junction in what appeared to be a spontaneous demonstration. Something was obviously wrong. Nothing in my life had prepared me for what that something was.
“It’s bad,” one of the men responded to my question. “Rachela Druk’s dead.”
|Rachela, courtesy of inn.co.il|
It took me hours to grasp the reality of what had happened. At the same time our bus had been attacked another Shilo bus, this one on its way to Tel Aviv, had been fired on by terrorists. Four children had been injured and Rachela, the young mother of seven, and Yitzhak Rofeh, the bus driver, were murdered becoming “painful sacrifices for peace”.
Over the years there have been a number of terror attacks with the goal of sabotaging various peace accords. Just last week there were knifing attacks in Yaffa and Petach Tikva and the shooting of two policemen in Jerusalem. An American tourist, Taylor Force, was murdered and thirteen injured, six of them seriously. The press conjectured the attacks were a reaction to the visit of American Vice President Joe Biden.
With good intentions many have come to Israel to try and make peace in the Middle East. At best their visits snarl up traffic and inconvenience the general population. At worst they inspire more terror. Unfortunately, we haven’t seemed to learn that the true peacemaker is not the American president, nor the head of the UN or the EU.
Soon it will be Purim and all over the world Megilat Esther will be read. We’ll hear how even though HaShem’s name is never mentioned, it is obviously He who saved the Jewish people from annihilation. It is time for us to stop looking at flesh and blood leaders for salvation. Instead we must direct our hopes and pleas to the true Leader of the world, knowing He is the One who will make true peace.