On Jaffa Road, the Tragedy Will Soon Be Overcome

Wednesday's attack struck at a time of widespread optimism, increased tourism in Jerusalem.

If Hussam Tayisir Duwiyat, the Palestinian driving the bulldozer Wednesday, would have looked through the windows of his vehicle just before he set off on his murderous rampage, he would have seen two plaques adorning the sidewalks of Jerusalem's Jaffa Road commemorating victims of past terrorist attacks.

Hundreds of Jerusalemites have been killed on this street by Palestinian terrorists. Indeed, Wednesday's terrorist was eventually stopped next to a plaque commemorating 26 people killed in a suicide bombing on bus number 18 in February 1996.

Wednesday's attack was another in a long line of attacks that have taken place on the street and robbed it of its status. But Jerusalemites who live and work on Jaffa Road and its vicinity say that Wednesday's tragedy will soon be overcome. "There's no such thing as a lull in Jerusalem," says the owner of a nearby business. "An attack like this won't bring life to a halt."

Unlike the 1996 terrorist attack, unlike most attacks for that matter, this time the murder weapon was not a gun or an explosives device. It was civilian in appearance. The bulldozer used to kill people is one of many such vehicles that are ubiquitous in the city center and part of the development frenzy that has gripped Jerusalem during the lull from the regular carnage.

Walk down Jaffa Road and you will go from a dazzling shopping district at one end to the Chords Bridge at the other. But when Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski unveiled the Chords Bridge last week and compared the new monument to the Eiffel Tower, no Jerusalemite believed that the city was morphing into Paris, or that Jaffa Road was turning into the Rue de Rivoli. Still, Wednesday's attack struck at a time of widespread optimism. In the past six months the city that has accommodated over 1.5 million tourists, and government and private money has been pouring in to sweep it from the neglect and decay that accumulated during the bad times of frequent bombings.

Yaron Kutik, owner of a cafe located near where the bulldozer came to a halt, was treated for shock at Shaare Zedek hospital. "This is the first time I've seen a terror attack happen right in front of my eyes, but this is not an attack that will affect us in the long term," he said. "Every Jerusalemite knows there's no such thing as a calm in Jerusalem. In a few days everyone will forget this attack and move on."

Wednesday afternoon, a group of right-wing extremists gathered at the scene of the attack and shouted "death to Arabs." Back in 1996, their hatred manifested itself in the same way, at the same place, but some things have changed over the past 12 years. While fewer customers now frequent the nearby Mahaneh Yehuda market, its many Arab workers did not flee fearing for their lives. "People have matured," Barhoum, an Arab vendor from East Jerusalem who has a stall at the market, said. "We've all learned that not every Palestinian is a murderer."