It is hard to imagine that it has been 14 years since that day that changed my life forever. Fourteen years ago, on June 11, 2003, I was on bus No. 14 in Jerusalem when an 18-year-old terrorist boarded strapped with explosives and detonated.
His goal was to kill and maim as many innocent people as possible — and he did. More than 100 of us were injured and 17 innocent people were murdered, including American Alan Beer, originally from Cleveland.
I know that I am lucky to be alive, as those seated and standing around me were killed. Terrorism and the toll it takes on its victims is not hypothetical to me. I will live with the physical and emotional scars from that day for the rest of my life.
The vivid images and sorrowful stories we see after attacks in places like Manchester and London are nothing short of devastating but simply not the same on television or through social media for most people to understand the abject horror of a terror attack.
I do feel the pain of the victim and, as a victim of terrorism — a person who has lived through the horror — I have direct questions that I would like to ask: Do we in the West really oppose terrorism? Do we truly see and understand the depth of evil and depravity in every terrorist act?
Those questions may seem a little shocking but the answer is not as obvious as you may think.
When the world’s reaction to an attack against children focuses on the geographical location as opposed to the terrible evil of the perpetrators, the answer is clearly “no.” While the world rightly condemned the recent attacks in England, there has been almost universal silence to attacks in Israel targeting Israelis.
Sadly, the brand of urban terror we see in England was perfected against the people of Israel while the world stayed silent. Suicide bombings like the one in Manchester have been a reality for Israelis for decades. Likewise, car ramming attacks like those in London are just the extension of the waves of attacks that Israelis have suffered over the last few years.
But it is much worse than just providing support. Imagine if the world paid the family of the London attackers a stipend for life to reward them for their attack against that Ariana Grande concert? Imagine if a museum was created to recreate and celebrate the scene of the massacre and the name of the attacker was celebrated with parks or recreation centers named in his honor. How would the world feel about that?
Unfortunately, we already know the answer to that question because the Palestinians have been doing that for years.
Museums have been created to honor the terrorist that blew up innocent people enjoying lunch in a pizza store. Lifetime stipends are regularly paid to terrorist and their families to reward the death and destruction they create.
Not only has the world failed to stop this horror, it actually subsidizes it. Support for the Palestinian Authority pours in from the governments of the United States and Europe, and those very funds are used to pay terrorists for blowing up innocent men, women and children.
Think about that. When you pay your taxes on April 15, you are subsidizing stipends to terrorist murders and memorials made in their “honor.” Can you imagine paying to honor the attackers in London?
Quite simply, we cannot say we oppose terrorism while we openly subsidize it. Where is the outrage? This must stop. We must realize that there is no difference between a terror attack in Manchester or London and a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. There is no difference between murdering innocent children at a concert in Manchester and the murder of innocent children in a dance club in Israel.
Supporting terrorism anywhere is really supporting terrorism everywhere.
There are certain lines that we cannot cross, no matter how passionately one believes in their “cause.” The world needs to stand up and declare in a single voice that we can never justify the targeting and murder of innocent civilians irrespective of their geographic location. There is no legitimate reason to attack civilians and children, and those that do must face universal condemnation and swift justice not financial reward.
It is time for the Western world to really stand up and oppose terror. The time for hope and prayers have passed. This is the time for universal condemnation and action. We must all work together until terrorism is eliminated. Only then can we truly say that we have risen to the challenge of our times and defeated the terror that threatens us all.
Sarri Singer is the founder and director of Strength to Strength, a nonprofit organization in New York City established to bring survivors of terrorism and their families together globally to heal. The organization can be found online at stosglobal.org.