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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Eight years since the Seder Night Massacre

Moadim l'Simcha, a happy holiday to everyone.

A reminder that I am allowed to be online because we only have one night of holiday in Israel rather than two. We are now in the intermediate days.

Eight years ago last night was the Seder Night Massacre (pictured). Here's the story from Naomi Ragen:
Sitting in the lobby of the Park Hotel with my young daughter in-law and aging mother in -law, I watched as the lobby slowly filled with hundreds of people. I kept my eyes on the security guard. To my shock and dismay, I saw him leave his place by the door and walk back into the hotel dining room, leaving the door completely unmanned. I considered walking up to him, complaining loudly, but just then my husband, sons, and father-in-law came out of synagogue. We kissed, exchanged holiday greetings, and I tried to quell my fears.

After all, what were the chances that a suicide bomber would find his way davka to this hotel, of all the hotels in Israel? I tried to think back to the years when a hotel lobby filled with excited voices was a pleasant and cheering experience, something boding conviviality and holiday cheer. I tried not to see the gathering crowd with the eyes of an enemy bent on an opportunity for maximum human slaughter, which is what we Israelis have been doing naturally for the last eighteen months every time we leave our homes.

My husband and I sat together with our loved ones, enjoying each other’s company. It was seven p.m. The dining room was scheduled to begin seating people at seven-thirty.

For no reason, I was suddenly filled with a sudden sense of horror. I envisioned my kitchen, and imagined the smoke rising, blackening the walls, billowing through the house.

“What’s wrong?” my husband asked, watching my face change.

“I think I might have left the fire burning under the kitchen kettle, ” I told him.

“Are you sure?”

“No. I don’t know.”

He looked concerned for a moment, then looked over my shoulder. “People are going into the dining room already.” I stood up. “Let’s go,” I said. It was seven fifteen.

My father in law waved an envelope in front of us. “I know how Alex hates cantors, so I arranged a private seder for us upstairs.” He and my mother-in-law were going to stop in the bathroom first, and they’d join us in a few minutes.

The dining room upstairs was a far cry from the joyful, packed, and noisy crowd in the lobby we’d just left. Only two or three tables were set, and less than a handful of people were seated. We found a table set for seven and sat down. It was seven twenty.

I looked around at the table to see if it had all the things we needed to begin the ceremony when my in-laws arrived.

And then I heard it: A sound, like a roar, rolling through the room, making the floor rumble. I looked up from the table, thinking: “What…?” Then suddenly, there was a deafening crash of sound like no other I had ever heard in my life, a sound that was like an emphatic statement in a language all its own, whose meaning was impossible to mistake for any other, impossible to misunderstand. The wall of windows facing us suddenly blew inwards, crashing, sending slivers of glass flying past our cheeks and legs, littering the floor. I heard my daughter in-law screaming. Screams rose from downstairs. It gave me the idea that I too should scream. And I did, the way I had once screamed in the labor room, giving birth.

“I can’t believe this is happening to me!” my daughter in-law repeated hysterically, held close in my son’s arms.” “Get down!” my husband shouted. As we did, I saw Akiva picking glass from his hand, and I wondered if he’d scratched himself. Someone from another table shouted: “I hear firing!”

We froze. This had been a terrorist modus operandi in previous attacks. First the bombing, and then machine gun fire to finish off anyone who survived. For one moment, my heart, which had previously been filled with the knowledge that I, my family, had survived, felt its first moment of real fear.

“Wait here,” my husband told us. “I’m going to find my parents.”

It was only then I thought of them, downstairs. I knew that they must both be dead. And I thought: I have to get out of here with my children, alive. We took an impromptu vote, those in favor of waiting for my husband to return versus those who wanted to flee. The women, flee-ers all, won.

I went towards the staircase we’d come up from, looking down. Acrid, black smoke and twisted metal filled the space for as far as I could see. I hurried back to my family gathered at the other end of the room. The two young boys who had been seated near us shouted that there was another staircase, and pointed out to the adjoining patio. Just then, two waitresses suddenly walked in from the staircase we’d originally used. One was drenched in red blood, her long dark hair and pretty face staring at her upraised bloody hands.

“Let’s go!” I told my children, heading down the emergency exit. It emerged into the hotel’s outdoor pool area. A high fence kept us from leaving. We, and others, milled around desperate for a way out. Suddenly, we caught a glimpse of the blown out glass doors of the main dining room. For a moment, I just stared.
Read the whole thing. It's chilling. And if the 'Palestinians' could do it again, they would do it in a minute. Peace? You must be joking.

1 Comments:

At 8:30 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Its a reminder that if a Palestinian state emerged next door to Israel, a future Seder Night Massacre could very well become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Why tempt fate again? The lesson should have already been learned.

 

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