By Maya Salter and Ma'ayan Cohen
In Jerusalem on Jan. 29, 2004, the passengers aboard Bus 19 became victims of a heinous act of terror. The bomb took the lives of 11 people and injured more than 50, who now must live with the scars and haunting memories of this day. In Israel, things that we as Americans might deem trivial, such as taking a bus to visit a friend, go to work or go home, invoke an incomprehensible sense of fear and danger. For Israelis, this day-to-day threat of terrorism is very real.
On Jan. 31, 2005, Anteaters for Israel (AFI) brought Bus 19 to the University of California, Irvine for all to see. The bus was brought to California by an organization called Christians for Israel. It was first displayed in Washington, DC, on May 6, 2004, in front of the Capitol building, where it stayed for most of the month with the theme, "Terror, A One-Way Ticket".
By bringing the skeleton of Bus 19 to the UCI campus, AFI hopes to raise awareness and draw attention to the grim reality of terror. The photographs of some of the victims are displayed on the bus, reminding people that this can happen to anyone and it is a crime against humanity. With its blatant presence, the bus brings with it an undeniable truth, one that is often disregarded, yet still threatens our seemingly secure environment. If such violence and bloodshed can occur in Israel, it can occur anywhere, including the United States. And it has in the past. Terrorism has found its way not only into the buses, restaurants and homes of Israel, but into the buildings of America and the trains of Spain. If these atrocities continue to go unnoticed by the majority of the population, the threat will only continue to grow. Bus 19 is giving the victims of terror a voice and to all others, an honest look at the repercussions of violent hatred.
The aim of Bus 19 is not to point fingers or place blame. It is, however, here to encourage consciousness. In order to work toward a more ideal state, there needs to be an acknowledgment of the brutality and senselessness of such acts. They, along with the hatred that sparks them and the consequences they leave behind, are an existing danger in our world. Putting aside all differences of belief, violent attacks must be recognized and condemned for what they are: merciless terror. The bare bus on campus is proof that such terror is real and pending. Walk past this bus without thought or concern for the victims or yourself, and terrorism triumphs.
Maya Salter and Ma'ayan Cohen are students at the University of California, Irvine and members of Anteaters for Israel.