Jerusalem under Attack. (Up Front: News and Opinion from Independent Minds)

Article excerpt

A suicide bomber recently blew himself up no more than 300 yards from my apartment in Jerusalem. The windows shuddered as the deafening sound rent the air. Then came a moment of silence, followed by the loud cry of sirens.

A friend who witnessed the attack was still traumatized a week later. The vivid images of dead bodies scattered on the road couldn't be erased. There were seven bodies, she said, not counting the wounded.

Another suicide bomber detonated himself on a bus in a different part of town a day earlier. He killed twenty people and wounded many more. Immediately after the assault, I called friends who live close to where the bus exploded to make sure they were okay. Chilling phone calls like these have become routine in Israel. A busy line on the other end is considered good news.

Not surprisingly, the Jerusalem landscape has also changed. Police and military checkpoints have been erected not only on many of the roads leading into the metropolis but also in the city itself. Every supermarket, bank, cafe, hotel, and restaurant is now obliged to employ security guards who search customers as they enter.

Despite these and other measures, many Jerusalemites continue to feel insecure. The once bustling downtown is often empty, since residents prefer to stay home rather than risk a night out on the town. They know that no military operation can stop the suicide bombers.

While the media spends much time covering the attacks in West Jerusalem, most commentators have often blurred the difference between the personal and national dimension of the threat. The very real personal threat every Israeli feels when he or she enters a mall, takes a bus, or walks into a crowded pub shouldn't be mistaken for a national threat. The random killings of civilians in no way jeopardize Israel's existence.

Moreover, the media has consistently failed to expose what is happening on the city's occupied east side, where Palestinians live. Like West Jerusalem, the eastern sector is also under attack--not by suicide bombers, of course, but by Israeli authorities.

The Jerusalem municipality--headed by Likud mayor Ehud Olmert--together with the military and police have been exploiting the ongoing conflict in order to accelerate Israel's geographic and demographic conquest of East Jerusalem. …