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Monday, December 22, 2008

20 years since Pan Am 103

Because the Talmud talks about the merits of being buried in Israel, many Jews ask to be buried here. One of the most 'popular' cemeteries among American immigrants in Israel is the Eretz HaChayim cemetery in Beit Shemesh. The cemetery has been bought up by several American affinity groups, and I have been there for funerals all too many times Rachmana litzlan (may God save us).

Each time I go there, there is one grave that stands out, because it's on a prominent corner across from the main chapel and right next to the main road. It's the grave of Joseph K. Miller, and it gives no indication of how he died. But I remember too well how he died. I lived in New Jersey at the time of his death. Mr. Miller lived in Woodmere, New York, a town where I know many people.

Joseph Miller HY"D (may God avenge his blood) - who is listed on the Lockerbie victims web page as an 'accounting firm executive' - was the Treasurer of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations when he was murdered on Pan Am 103 twenty years ago tonight. At the time, I remember someone in the local Yeshiva telling me that his parents were friends of the Millers. I didn't know Mr. Miller, nor did I know any of the other victims of Pan Am 103 - one of the most heinous terror attacks in aviation history until September 11, 2001. But I am told that Mr. Miller went to London for a one-day business meeting the previous night, and was returning on the late afternoon Pan Am nonstop to New York. He and 258 other people from the plane, along with another 11 people on the ground, were murdered that night.

Mr. Miller's family was fortunate to recover his body intact, and brought him to Israel for burial. And it is his grave that I see all-too-often when I have to go to funerals in Beit Shemesh.

Tonight in Lockerbie, a memorial ceremony was held. This is al-Beeb's report. Let's go to the videotape.

What's striking about the report is that there is no mention of how 270 people died on that night twenty years ago. There is no mention of terrorism or bombs. It's as if there was a plane crash that was completely accidental.

Have we learned nothing? Did 270 people die in vain?


At 2:57 AM, Blogger M Brueschke said...

I was in HS when 103 was bombed, I remember it well because my mother flew into town and it was on the news when she came in the door. Of course Al-Beeb won't mention the cause of the bombing or the State responsible, that wouldn't be PC, but they'll go on about American bombings of "wedding parties" in Afghanistan.

At 7:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hasta lavista, England.

At 7:34 AM, Blogger rickismom said...

The first sentence remembers bombs. And, I suspect that in this case, a lot of the abscence is that everyone still knows why and how.

At 8:01 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


Half the people in that clip were too young to remember why and how. I was waiting to hear it called a terror attack.

Silly me.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Yaakov Ellis said...

There is no mention of terrorism or bombs.

Listen again: the very first words spoken in the news clip are: "Remembering those who died in the Lockerbie bombing...". That sure sounds to me like mention of a bomb.

At 1:14 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


No mention of terror. No reference to a terror attack. How did the bomb get there? Referring to it as a bomb is so refined, so English. It's kind of like referring to terrorists as militants.

Pan Am 103 was a terror attack. Why shouldn't it be called one?

At 2:48 PM, Blogger Yaakov Ellis said...

I don't disagree with you that they evaded any mention of terrorism or the origins of the bomb. I was just pointing out that there was a mention of bombs, contrary to your claim.


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