Victim in suicide bombing becomes martyr to a cause that is not her own

October 21, 1994|By Doug Struck | Doug Struck,Jerusalem Bureau of The Sun

HOLON, Israel -- They buried Galit Rosen with all the contradictions of her country yesterday.

She had a military escort to her grave, even though the young woman had not cared much for the formalities of the army when she served. She was buried with words of hatred for her attackers, even though she herself was more of a pacifist than anything.

Galit Rosen, 23, was among the 21 victims in the suicide bombing of a bus in Tel Aviv on Wednesday -- a chance fatality caught up in thewars and hatreds of the place she lives.

Yesterday, in their home near Tel Aviv, her parents sat bewildered two hours before they were to bury their daughter and wondered how Galit had become a martyr to a cause she did not seek.

"She was an angel. She loved everybody. She didn't hurt anyone," cried her mother, Yehudit Rosen, 47.

Also lost is the Rosens' optimism for the peace process.

"I have hope in my heart there will be peace. But the reality is pretty bleak," said Moshe Rosen, 49.

The Rosens, both schoolteachers, are moderates who voted for the Labor Party, led by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Now some of the more extreme options begin to sound good to them.

"If I were prime minister I would carry on the peace process, but I would change lots of things," he said. "I would give Palestinians autonomy and then seal them off. I would hermetically seal the borders."

Give them Gaza. Give them the West Bank, he said. Then stop their workers from coming into Israel.

"Let them work in Saudi Arabia or somewhere," he said. As for the Jewish settlers on the West Bank: "No argument about it. Just take them out."

No easy solution

Mr. Rabin's rambling speech Wednesday night hinted that he, too, would like to simply retreat to the borders of the country before it seized the West Bank in 1967. It is impossible to "swallow" 2 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, he said. The only option, he hinted, was to separate Israelis and Palestinians.

But like all Israelis, Mr. Rabin knows that there is no easy solution.

Meanwhile, with a sense of frustration and hopelessness, Israel mourned its dead yesterday.

For two days now Israel radio has played only dirges. Every hour yesterday, this news-addicted country listened to the list of funerals, read at the top of each newscast.

Galit was not supposed to be on that list, was not even supposed to be on the bus that exploded. Success bought her a ticket.

A professional dance troupe called the night before and told her that she had been selected -- one of four from 40 who tried out -- to dance with the company.

She was to have reported Wednesday morning for her first rehearsal.

"Her roommates told me she was elated she was selected. She was dancing and shouting about," said Nir Ben-Gal, director of the Liat Dror Nir Ben-Gal Dance Company.

"She was very good, very theatrical. I felt she could do anything in dance with her body."

Dance was only one of Galit's interests. She studied movie-making at a Jerusalem film institute. She was supposed to be in her classes Wednesday but skipped them to go to the rehearsal.

"We didn't even think she was in Tel Aviv. We didn't know until 5:30 p.m." -- eight hours after the explosion, said her mother.

Everyone must have politics in Israel, and Galit was "leftist-leaning," her parents said.

But once she served her mandatory duty in the army -- as a recreation coordinator -- she paid no attention to politics. She was only interested in her dance and filmmaking, said her father.

When she moved to Jerusalem for the film institute, her parents fretted about the dangers of that divided, angry city.

"We were really worried about her when she was in Jerusalem," Mrs. Rosen said. "When she was in Jerusalem, there were a lot of terrorist attacks. A lot of stabbings.

She wasn't afraid

"She used to say that is nonsense. She herself wasn't at all afraid. I was afraid for her," said her mother. "We were very glad when she moved back to Tel Aviv."

The shock of the bombing was that it was in the heart of Tel Aviv -- secular, modern, almost liberal Tel Aviv, a city where people pay more attention to their everyday lives than to the political conflict.

'Your blood will boil'

The rabbi at her funeral had few words of comfort, only the language of vengeance.

"Your blood, Galit, will boil like the blood of the prophet in the temple," he said.

Yisrael Katz, her school principal, was kinder in his memory:

"Galit was all smiles and full of life," Mr. Katz said. "She was one of the pillars of her class."

Galit's mother leaned on her daughters, Anat, 25, and Liat, 15. Her father fought hard for composure.

As he spoke, gravediggers not 20 feet away dug into the soft sand to prepare a hole for another of the bombing victims.

And soon another family passed by, another grave to be filled.

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