Three years ago to the day, on March 5th 2003 and thousands of miles away from the Paparazzi and glamour of Hollywood, another event took place. It featured the 37 bus at the center of the plot and starred nine school children. It was the last role any of them would ever play.
Yuval Mendellevich was a bright 13 years old, talented in mathematics and with a passion for computer games. He was a member of a hiking club and enjoyed climbing. Yuval was an only child and would always call his father on his way home from school to tell him of his day. That day was no exception. The last words his father ever heard from his son were "I love you dad", before the line went dead.
Yuval was murdered by a Palestinian suicide (homicide) bomber. Yuval's father said of his son's tragic death, "His death is like a black ink stain spreading over your consciousness; a black hole that will never be filled."
Abigail Litle was 14 years old and the daughter of a Minster of the Baptist church of Israel. Abigail had come to Israel as a small child and had attended the same high school as Yuval. She was majoring in Biology and Environmental studies. The school principle described her as a mature and cheerful girl. Her brother called her creative with a great love for humanity and nature. "She always believed that God loved her and wouldn't let anything happen to her. But in the end the pain and sadness has reached us as well."
Abigail was murdered by a Palestinian suicide (homicide) bomber. One of her classmates said of Abigail, "You always said you had a guardian angel who was with you everywhere and helped you with everything. Now, Abigail, you will be our guardian angel."
Smadar Firstater was 16 years old and was majoring in Art. Smadar's ambition was to continue her studies in New York and become an artist. . Her family described her as a very sensitive girl with a gentle and caring disposition. The Columbia shuttle disaster on the 1st February and the death of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon had moved her deeply. .
Smadar was murdered by a Palestinian suicide (homicide) bomber as she was about to get off the bus. Her parents, who usually insisted she take taxis, had allowed her to take the bus that day and had heard the blast from their apartment nearby.
Daniel Haroush was 16 years old and was an outstanding pupil at the Military Academy affiliated with his high school. Most of his classmates were on a trip to Poland and Daniel had finished school early to go downtown. He had gone to pick up the forms he would need for his drivers' education classes. Daniel was planning a military career in the army and dreamed of taking the pilots' course. That summer he had been due to take a parachuting course.
Daniel was murdered by a Palestinian suicide (homicide) bomber. He had three older sisters, one of whom said of her brother, "He was outstanding in everything he did, ever since he was little."
Tom Hershko was 15 years old and the only child of divorced parents. Tom lived with his mother, but retained close ties with his father. They enjoyed spending time with each other, especially doing activities together. They both studied Karate and had it not been for a recent injury to his finger, Tom would probably have had his black belt. He had called his mother from the bus and told her they had a surprise for her.
Tom was murdered by a Palestinian suicide (homicide) bomber, together with his father. His mother said that he took his surprise to his grave and never knew the surprise she had for him. "He loved to surf the Internet, and yesterday I had him connected to the Fast Internet cable service. Now nobody will use it."
Elizabeth (Liz) Katzman was 17 years old and was nicknamed "Snow White" by her classmates. Liz was a beautiful girl with white skin, waist length black hair and dazzling green eyes, who had come to Israel from the former Soviet Union with her parents 12 years before. She was majoring in Theatre and Sociology and was a popular member of her 12th grade class.
Elizabeth was murdered by a Palestinian suicide (homicide) bomber. She had been preparing for a final exam in Theatre and had been looking through costumes for a play with her best friend Tali, who she decided to go home with.
Tali Kehrman was 17 years old and was actively involved in planning her 12th grade class graduation ceremony. A friend described her as being continuously cheerful and always wanting to help and be involved. Tali loved literature and wrote for her school's paper. She was soon to be made editor. Because of her outstanding abilities to connect to others, she had been chosen as one of the representatives of a delegation her school had sent to Boston.
Tali was murdered by a Palestinian suicide (homicide) bomber together with Liz. Tali was described as being "very sensitive", a trait she applied to one of her great loves in life - animals, especially cats.
Kamar Abu Hamed was 12 years old and came from a well know family from the Druze village of Daliat ha-Carmel. Kamar had been delayed at school that day and had missed her usual bus. Her parents had not been wealthy but they had invested all they could for their children's education. Kamar was described as a quiet girl who "loved everyone and did everything to succeed at school."
Kamar was murdered by a Palestinian suicide (homicide) bomber. "Kamar" in Druze means "moon". A local council head would say, "today Daliat has lost its moon" He went on to say, "Her only crime was to have taken her school bag and gone to study in Haifa. I only hope that she will one day be a sacrifice for peace and not for more war."
Assaf Zur was 17 years old and an 11th grade student majoring in computers. Nicknamed "Blondie" by his friends, he was an outgoing boy, who loved all kinds of sport, especially wind surfing. Assaf's natural charm endeared him to everyone he came in contact with. He was learning to drive and had had nine lessons. Assaf was looking forward to passing his test and being independent.
Assaf was murdered by a Palestinian suicide (homicide) bomber. Three stops before his girlfriend had kissed him goodbye and got off the bus. Today, there is a memorial site on the Internet dedicated to Assaf. Every day the home page gives the number of days since he was killed.
This year, to the horror of anyone with a moral conscience, the movie "Paradise Now" was rewarded with an award by the Golden Globes. This abhorrent movie attempts, with a somewhat warped mixture of humour and mawkish sentiments, to turn mass murderers into the same breathing, caring individuals as their intended victims.
It follows the trail of 2 young Palestinian men, not much older than the victims of the #37 bus, culminating in one of the mass murderers detonating an explosive belt on a crowded Tel Aviv bus.
It seems that Palestinian mass murder is not only popcorn flavour of the month with the Golden Globes, but with the Academy Awards looming, this horrific epic to nothing more than Palestinian terrorism is about to come up trumps again.
One can only look in amazement as this respectable organization will read out the names of this year's nominations, which include "Paradise Now". This is tantamount to declaring that the event of 3 years ago and the murder of 9 innocent children (+ eight more innocent people) at the hands of a Palestinian homicide bomber, is of no more consequence than the death of a couple of luckless cows who were killed to provide the hotdogs for anyone who considers this a movie of any merit.
The Academy, if it had any moral fiber, would throw out this nomination. The mass murderers fulfilled their senseless ambition in life when they murdered these innocent children and many other innocent victims. They will no doubt be a light to their non-existent nation of Palestine, shining brightly under some street sign in Gaza named after them, or grinning from the pages of a Palestinian textbook, who will revere them as heroes for the next generation of Palestinian children who long to emulate them. Their mothers, like that of the 37 bus bomber will talk with pride of their child's deed.
The children on the #37 bus, who never had the chance to fulfill their ambitions in life, which certainly never included mass-murder, are the real stars. Their light will shine brighter than any Golden Globe or Oscar, in the memories of not only all those that knew and loved them personally, but to everyone who has had the privilege of knowing them in some small way through websites dedicated to their memory.
Angela Bertz – Israel
Forwarded directly to the Academy Award via their website http://www.oscars.org/contact/index.html