Photo Credit: Facebook screenshot Stand with US
Hodaya Asulin, (HY"D)

When a terrorist bomb explodes in Israel, the news media report the number of people killed and the number wounded. Sometimes those who were killed are named, but those who were wounded are almost never identified by name.

No matter how seriously they are injured, whether they lost a limb, or an eye, or are crippled for life, the wounded are just a nameless, faceless statistic. Even within the American Jewish community, where concern for individual terror victims is much greater than among the general public, the names of the wounded usually remain unknown.


Last week, however, one of the wounded died. And so, for a brief moment, the public’s attention was drawn to one of the thousands of forgotten victims.

On March 23, 2011, an Arab terrorist planted a bomb in a bus station in western Jerusalem. The terrorist’s name was Hussein Ali al-Qawasmeh. He was a resident of Hebron. Meaning that he lived under the rule of the Palestinian Authority, not Israel. He was not a victim of “occupation” or “settlers.” None of the flimsy excuses that the “peace” camp uses to rationalize Palestinian “resistance” could apply. There was nothing to “resist.” He went to a bus station in western Jerusalem in order to murder Jews.

Qawasmeh hid the explosives in a backpack and filled it with shrapnel, in order to ensure that the maximum number of people would be harmed. Note, by the way, that he was educated in Palestinian Authority schools his whole life; evidently something he learned there helped persuade him that it would be right and proper to inflict as much pain as possible on any Jew who walked by. That’s what passes for morality in the PA’s educational system.

As it happened, the one person killed immediately by the blast was a Christian, a 55 year-old British citizen named Mary Jean Gardner. After two decades of humanitarian work in Africa, Mary Jean had enrolled at Hebrew University in order to learn enough Hebrew to translate the Bible into the African tribal language of Ife. Do any of the British political leaders and activists who so fervently champion the Palestinian cause even remember the name Mary Jean Gardner? I doubt it.

Sixty-eight people were wounded in the bombing. What kinds of injuries did they suffer? How were their lives affected? How does one manage with only one eye, or one arm, or one leg? These are not the kinds of questions that interest The New York Times or CNN. I don’t recall seeing any follow-up stories about the human side of those terror statistics.

One of the wounded was a 14-year-old girl named Hodaya Asulin. She was waiting for a bus to her hometown of Mevo Horon, which happens to be very slightly on the “other” side of the pre-1967 line. It’s not hard to imagine some anti-Israel writer or political activist dismissing her with an epithet such as “settler girl.”

Hodaya suffered severe head wounds that left her in a coma. For six and a half years her family visited her, prayed for her, cried for her. For six and a half years her parents and siblings were tormented as their sister lay on the edge of death. And last week, she succumbed. For a few brief moments, her anonymity was gone and the public was given a glimpse of a real girl with a real life that was torn away by a savage.

Oh, it’s easy to criticize the predictable responses uttered by public figures. President Barack Obama condemned that 2011 bombing “in the strongest possible terms,” then resumed sending the Palestinian Authority hundreds of millions of dollars and continued pressuring Israel to give Hussein Ali al-Qawasmeh and his friends a sovereign state next door.

Obama’s defense secretary, Robert Gates, said the bombing was “horrific,” but hastened to add, “I don’t think I would characterize the situation there as deteriorating.” Of course not. For politicians who refuse to admit that peace with the Palestinians is impossible, no bombing, no massacre, no atrocity of any kind could possibly cause the situation to “deteriorate.”

J Street issued a press release declaring that the proper response to the bombing would be to create an independent Palestinian state. Amnesty International condemned the bombing while simultaneously urging Israel to refrain from shooting into “residential neighborhoods in Gaza,” which of course would mean not shooting into 99 percent of Gaza.

Sure, it would be easy to criticize Obama, Gates, J Street, and Amnesty International. And they would deserve it. But I reserve my strongest disappointment for my own community. For the past six and a half years, as Hodaya Asulin lay in a coma, how many American Jewish day schools urged their students to send letters to Hodaya’s parents and siblings? How many synagogues raised money for the Asulin family? How many Zionist organizations spoke about Hodaya when they met with members of Congress, or newspaper editors, or State Department officials? How many in our community made an effort to keep her memory alive? How many even knew her name?


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Stephen M. Flatow is president-elect of the Religious Zionists of America. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995 and the author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.