Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 Seven Years Later

I obviously have so much more to say than I was able to say last night but today is not the day for that.

I'm sure everyone remembers where they were when they heard the news. I lived in Jerusalem at the time and was driving home when I got a call from my sweet friend, David, who said a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. I asked details and he, in typical Israeli fashion, declared it to be a terrorist attack straight off the bat. I recall recoiling from the phone at the sheer absurdity of his statement. We now know he was right. My parents called and I was on the phone with them when a plane hit the Pentagon. It was surreal...I remember thinking it seemed like a movie where Harrison Ford was playing the role of president.

I happened to be staying with three [American] boys whose parents were attending a conference in Europe. They lived in an amazing apartment in the Arab section of Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives. The views of the Old City were breathtaking! At one point, CNN was reporting Palestinian celebrations at the Damascus Gate but I assure you there were none. In fact, as late afternoon passed to night and the events continued to unfold, we received a steady stream of Arab neighbors coming to, for lack of a better term, pay their condolences. This went on for at least a week; wherever I would go, Israelis and Palestinians would say how sad they were for my country and it was sincere.

So much has changed in our world in the past seven years. This is something I don't have to tell most of my friends, unfortunately. But yesterday I was reminded of the changes in a different way. While I was in the waiting room of an army hospital OB clinic, I glanced up to see a Arab man with a fully covered woman. When I say fully covered, I mean only her hands and eyes were showing. The expression in her eyes was haunting; a mixture of fear and something else...loneliness, perhaps? She looked terribly uncomfortable and even though I could have easily communicated with her, I was too caught up in my own life to walk over and say hello. After she came back from getting her vitals taken, her husband didn't even sit down with her and, instead, remained in a separate room. Why didn't I talk to her then? Who knows why she is here (well, she's with her husband of course) but she is most certainly far away from her family and having a baby. If I have to conduct surveillance on the OB waiting room, I will see this woman again and I will speak to her. Furthermore, I will let her know that not all Americans think Muslims are terrorists.


The Gutsy Mom said...

You have such beautiful perspective. I walk around over here feeling weird because I think all Germans think all Americans are lazy and messy. Ha. I can't imagine if I had to walk around feeling as if everyone I saw thought we all were terrorists. Freaky.

Rela Pantaleon-Manigsaca said...

Wow, your Israeli friend immediately knew it. They have the eyes for these things.

And yes, I hope you do talk to her the next time.

Kari said...

It is interesting to hear your perspective, since you have lived abroad. I feel sad, because I know I will probably never have the opportunity to travel beyond the United States - maybe someday. You are a kind person to think of talking to the Arab women. A lot of people wouldn't have even taken the time to notice.

I hope you are well and I'm keeping you in my prayers.