Ten years ago, a Palestinian suicide bomber detonated himself at a cafe in the German Colony neighborhood of Jerusalem. Seven people were killed, including David Applebaum, an American-born emergency-room doctor who had treated countless victims of previous attacks. Applebaum was visiting the cafe, called Cafe Hillel, that evening with his daughter Nava, who was to be married the next day. Nava was also killed.
The next day, I went to Cafe Hillel to report on the aftermath. To my surprise, it was open for business. There was still debris on the street, but the blood had been washed away, the glass had been swept up and coffee was being served.
Served, I should say, to a large group of customers. No one was scared. People were drinking cappuccino and reading newspaper accounts of the attack. The residents of Jerusalem weren’t going to change their routines simply because terrorists were bent on killing them.
This is a roundabout way of saying the following: It’s important that those runners who couldn’t finish the Boston Marathon yesterday — when two bombs went off, killing three and injuring more than 140 — be allowed to finish. It’s important for the marathon to open registration right away for next year’s race. It’s important for those businesses shut by this attack to reopen as soon as possible. And it’s important for people to patronize those businesses.
Whoever committed this attack should be caught and punished, but law enforcement won’t solve the larger problem. We can mitigate the impact of terrorism, but, at a certain point, the money we spend, the rights we curtail and the freedom of movement we limit will provide no returns. There is no satisfactory solution to the problem of mass anonymous violence.
As a result, resilience becomes the paramount response. Keeping your wits about you as individuals, as a government and as a culture is what counts.
The Boston Globe published the following this morning: “The attack truncated the world’s most prestigious road race, which draws runners from across the globe, and will forever mar what is annually the city’s most uplifting day: Marathon Monday.”
The Globe has been magnificent in its coverage of the attack, but this thought is wrong. The race will only be marred if its organizers — and Boston’s police and civic leaders — allow themselves to let this event alter the way they stage the race. Next year’s Boston Marathon can be a triumph. But as the people of Jerusalem (and New York and London and many other cities) have learned, merely carrying out daily responsibilities, and refusing to yield to panic, becomes a triumph all its own.
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