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Just when it seemed like nothing could surprise anyone around here anymore, we recently witnessed two public events of shock and awe that departed a little from the usual torpor of our days' routine. These were authentic shocks that may have impacted reality for the simple fact that they were very personal.

The biggest shock was from Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi - from just the very attempt to kill him. Since the time dynamite exploded in the hands of Peter Sellers, disguised as Toulouse-Lautrec in the "Pink Panther," it is doubtful that such an expression of astounded stupefaction has been seen as that on the face of the bearded Hamasnik as he was being taken to hospital, kicking and screaming, filled with astonishment, horror and rage.

It was hard to recognize the confident bespectacled doctor we had become used to seeing in his starched shirt before the cameras after every terrorist attack, like some sort of theologian of terror. With a crazed look and pale as chalk, he trembled with his fear of death, spitting curses and moans, his voice raised by half an octave - it was like some mask had been ripped from his face.

No longer a "senior figure," but just a frightened man, quivering in his totally private rage. It was more than rage - Rantisi endlessly spewed surprised insult. Me they hit? I, in person, could have in another moment been reduced to a pulverized corpse? The Last of the Shahidicans? Israel sees me as just another terrorist? But I'm a Senior Figure! I was on CNN! I belong to the senior staff of death sowers - the coordinator, the spokesman, the super-explainer of bloodshed. So how does it suddenly come so close to me? I'm management! I'm a doctor! Where's the immunity? Is it possible that I should catch the very disease I'm spreading? In our world, death belongs to the young, to the lower echelons. How dare they touch the ranking ones?

It is doubtful if this shock makes the assassination attempt worthwhile, for knowing the murder-greedy Hamas - a similar shock might appear, in cruel reprisal, on the faces of our senior figures too. But the fact is that only "personal shock," a wholly private sense of threat, can send shock waves through these abominable creatures. As long as they sent others to explode - especially the young ones, but taking care they are not relatives - the bloodshed could have gone on forever, as far as they were concerned. When it comes to them, there are second thoughts. As Samuel Johnson said: "Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."

Another kind of authentic personal shock bared in public was that of Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, facing the penetrating accusations of a bereaved family after the terrorist attack that followed the assassination attempt on that same Rantisi. Nobody knows what Mofaz usually hears on these endless consolation visits that he constantly embarks on with a kind of determined diligence, as though they themselves were a part of "our answer to terrorism."

But the stinging, sharp question from the daughter of the family - "What have you done in the past three years but kill people?" - suddenly seemed to puncture that heavy screen of cliches that is the routine shield of this arid and meager politician, who is so strangely immune to either criticism or accountability.

However, it is doubtful if the surprise agitated any enlightenment in him. For a moment it looked like he was about to reply: "What do you mean? I've also made many consolation visits."