Jewish Students at Duke University to Pre-empt Negative Publicity


October 11, 2004

In advance of the Fourth Annual Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement, the remains of a civilian passenger bus bombed by terrorists in Israel this year will be publicly displayed on Duke University campus this week by Chabad, a Jewish campus organization.

This Friday, the Palestine Solidarity Movement, will hold its national convention at Duke University. On Tuesday and Wednesday, October 12-13, Chabad of Duke University is hosting the Bus 19 Memorial Exhibit on Duke's West Campus on the Main Quad in front of the Duke Chapel. The bus itself is forty feet long and will stand silently on the quad, encouraging students, community members, and educators alike to spend a moment reflecting on the victims of this and other terrorist bombings in Israel and around the world.

"Its display at Duke reflects students' pride and solidarity with the people of Israel and the sorrow for the victims and their families," says Rabbi Zalman Bluming, Executive Director of Chabad at Duke University. "It also conveys students' condemnation of the ruthless tactics that have been used by Israel's neighbors in this conflict to derail the possibility of peace."

On January 29, 2004, a suicide bomber detonated the explosives strapped to his body a few moments after boarding Bus No. 19 in the heart of Jerusalem. The bus was filled with commuters. The blast tore apart the bus, turning it into a twisted wreck. Eleven people were killed, 50 wounded, 13 of them seriously. Bus 19 was the 140th homicide bombing in Israel, in which 577 people have been killed and over 3500 have been injured.

Jonas Rosenblum, a local graduate student, might have well been one of the victims of Bus 19. Passing by the bus just minutes before it exploded, Jonas will be leading a silent candle-light memorial vigil on Tuesday afternoon, in front of the Bus 19 Exhibit.

“January 29th was nearly my last day. I rode my bicycle across the Aza/ Arlozorov intersection just moments before it become a scene of fiery explosions and strewn body parts. From my school table, my classmates and I heard siren after screaming siren. Then, cell phones rang and we didn't have to ask if something horrible had happened. I felt numb, and confused, that a human could tear-to-pieces another human's life. I could have been murdered like Albert Balahsan was, who was also 27, also from abroad, also a computer geek,” says Jonas.

Bus 19 has become a global symbol for the dread of life under terror, both in Israel and throughout the world. The exhibit first traveled to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, then it was brought to Washington DC, and now it is coming to Duke University. Its display will help thousands of Duke Students visualize the horror and pain that embodies daily life in Israel. Those killed on Bus 19 that morning were students and commuters on their way to school and work, not unlike the students and teachers who take Duke University's buses every day to classes and activities.

The Bus 19 Exhibit is being sponsored by Chabad of Duke University, and endorsed by Jewish Grads for Israel. “Many Jewish students on campus just learning about their Jewish identity and their connection to Israel, were worried about not being able to articulate a response to the negative publicity about Israel. Chabad’s educational programs are meant to empower them so that they can effective advocates for Israel and the suffering of its people at the hands of Palestinian terrorists.”

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