Jerusalem mourning

By Joseph Cornelius Donnelly in Jerusalem

You can know much but know nothing. You can be near but be far. Realities are intensely complicated here. Details get reiterated daily for decades plus. But facts, hard carefully considered can be elusive when anyone from any of the myriad perspectives attempts to explain situations.

However, today’s kind of dreadful facts are unmistably real and clear. Harsh, hard-hitting reality smacks you in the head and guts. Nine hours later no one, no group, had taken responsibility for the quite unexpected bomb exploding in Central Jerusalem near bus station about 3:00PM this sunny afternoon.

One woman is dead while 50 others share injuries from light to severe. This horrible attack on life kills in several ways. It’s indiscriminate and all the more invasive against innocent life.

After several “quiet” years without such urban street terror like this, it seems many people has their guard down a bit. For many, hopes a bit better, while still distant from good. Fragility reigns long and strong in this land among Israeli and Palestinian peoples. And alongside them are tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of foreign workers and their families too. Quite a complex landscape with many vulnerable people.

Jerusalem streets, as elsewhere around Israel, were festooned with annual Purim celebrations and costumes on a beautiful Monday afternoon 48 hours earlier. You have your prevailing inner instincts when blending into seemingly carefree crowds. Security was visible but not obtrusive. Life was for the living, stretching round generations, origins, languages, families, friends and stories, even reconciliations for some. A holiday indeed.

Tonight the aches, angers and agonies renew heartbreaks and more. Who would do this now? How is this on us again?

Meanwhile this week there was also action, reaction, instigation, violence, retaliation in South Israel and Gaza. The unexpected disquiet was meant to disarm anyone getting comfortable with peace-talking times or options or rapprochement efforts even within communities. The dangerous dance holds hopes hostage again. Adds notable confusion to weaken confidences. But it didn’t seem to get news bites. It remains another agony of the familiar, as at the bus station and too many times before – here or somewhere in the land.

Palestinians and Israelis. Guns and governments, such as they are. Human beings and human beings. Provocations and politics bouncing back and forth on the lives of ordinary women, men, children, elderly regardless clarity for innocence or guilt. Unresolved issues, loyalties, agendas, options preoccupy today’s tomorrow, steal life from all peace-seeking people, on all sides in countless communities in these biblically driven lands.

Spring opened this week, annual hopes for new life, fruitful season throughout the land in the midst of things ordinary and extraordinary. Still the season of peace trails too far behind. Still so many work to condemn violence, build bridges, paths to peace once more. We must walk carefully with warriors for peace, accompany their hopes beyond hope – and nurture our own. One human family where peace is possible.

Joseph Cornelius Donnelly is the Head of Delegatation for Caritas Internationalis to the United Nations in New York.


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