Six years ago, during the height of the Intifada, I was a participant in a solidarity mission sponsored by the (now defunct) Alliance for Educational Programs in Israel. One of the core Alliance funded organizations was PARDES, where two students, Benjamin Blutstein and Marla Bennett, along with seven others lost their lives in a terrorist attack at the Sinatra Cafeteria shortly before we departed for Israel. To this day, I will not forget that memorial ceremony in the cafeteria courtyard.
Jerusalem, July 31, 2008 – The Hebrew University of Jerusalem today marked the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the university with a memorial ceremony at the scene of the attack on the university’s Mount Scopus campus.
Nine students and university staff members were killed in the attack: Benjamin Blutstein, Marla Bennett, Revital Barashi, David Gritz, David Diego Ladowski, Janis Ruth Coulter, Dina Carter, Levina Shapira and Daphna Spruch. Close to a hundred were wounded.
At today’s memorial ceremony, Hebrew University President Prof. Menachem Magidor said that the shock of the attack was particularly great because it happened right here in our home. Rather than being a random attack on the Israeli public, Prof. Magidor said that the attack was intentionally targeted at the Hebrew University.
“Those who know the details of the event know that the murderers dedicated a great deal of effort to carry out the attack here,” he said. “Their intention was to attack what the Hebrew University stands for – one of the most remarkable symbols of revival of the Jewish people. They tried to uproot the wonderful achievements of study and research. They wanted to taint the atmosphere of this campus, to weaken our commitment to development, pluralism, tolerance and aspiration for peace.”
Eulogizing the students who were killed in the attack, Prof. Magidor said, “We lost Levina’s smile, Daphna’s wisdom, Revital’s pleasantness, David, Marla and Benny’s search for their roots, David Diego’s commitment to serve his country and society, and Janis and Dina’s devotion to the people of Israel.”