Photo Credit:
Judge Richard Goldstone

Others must be removed after hours of meticulous surgical exploration. Still others enter the body far more deeply, perforating and lacerating vital organs at random. In Israel, CT scans of these victims’ heads have generally indicated blood, air, metal, and bone fragments displacing normal brain tissue.

The “lucky” patient who has somehow survived the initial explosive insult will often require subsequent surgeries to repair badly damaged organs. Others, as we have seen in Boston as well as in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, may sustain fractures, burns, amputations, vascular injuries, paralysis, blindness, or brain damage. A collapsed lung or perforated colon, what would ordinarily be considered a major injury, is now taken as a blessing for the merely wounded.

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Although some terror-bombing victims may recover physically, and even return to a more or less “normal” life, many more will require an entire lifetime of ongoing rehabilitation. Some will be impaired permanently. All will suffer serious psychological effects that will need expensive treatment. Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety affect not only the actual victims of an attack but also large swaths of nearby populations.

The physical pain experienced by the merely wounded victims of terrorist-bombings may be enlarged by the corollary destruction of human language. This linguistic debasement, which cannot be captured in any precise radiographic images, can still produce a visceral reversion to pre-language human sounds. What Judge Goldstone had failed to hear, in his manifestly uneven assessment of Operation Cast Lead, and what the rest of us may now fail to acknowledge, from our own countrymen victimized in Boston, are those pitiable moans and cries and whispers that evade statistical measurement.

In the end, it is always these thoroughly unscientific sounds, anterior to any learned speech and common to all terror-victim populations, that best explain the true meaning of being “merely wounded.”

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Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue and the author of twelve books and several hundred articles on nuclear strategy and nuclear war. He was Chair of Project Daniel, which submitted its special report on Israel’s Strategic Future to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, on January 16, 2003.

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