Lives In The Crossfire
A local artist makes a tribute to the victims of terrorism.
FRANK PROVENZANO SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS
"THE WHOLE COUNTRY IS AN ARMY, THE
WHOLE LAND THE FRONT LINE."
— PRIME MINISTER YITZHAK RABIN, JAN.
23, 1995, ONE DAY AFTER THE BEIT LID
ISLAMIC JIHAD SUICIDE BOMBING THAT
LEFT 21 ISRAELIS DEAD.
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ngraved in a monument
erected just inside Israel, at
the closest point to
Egypt, are the names of
those killed in a February 1990
bus explosion. Terrorists
struck unexpectedly and quick-
ly when a group of Israelis
An inscription at the
gravesite reads, "My brother is
silent, but his blood is scream-
ing from the earth."
Yet it is the plaintive wails
of the living that resound.
The disconsolate cries and
memories of the victims have
become the material and
inspiration from which
Deanna Sperka, an Oak Park
visual artist, has set out to
form a collective representa-
tion of the torment inflicted by
Fire, smoke and death have
become symbols of terrorism
— and persecution. Unfortu-
nately, the signs are becoming
And, once again, Mrs. Sper-
ka says, events portrayed
through the mainstream
American media as "happen-
ing on the other side of the
world" cannot be ignored. Re-
maining quiet, for Mrs. Sper-
ka, is akin to being a silent
"I wanted to bring back (to
the United States) that these
people were killed for no rea-
son, killed because some peo-
ple wanted to commit a
horrendous act," Mrs. Sperka
said. "These people are not
Nonetheless, the randomness
and shock of terrorism has, for
many, grown familiar. The num-
bers of the victims are starting to
obscure their names. Their voic-
es and stories are mounting into
a cacophony of indignant and
Since the 1993 Oslo Accord,
signed between Israel and the
Palestine Liberation Organiza-
tion, the pursuit for peace has
turned into a search for refuge
from terrorism. At the end of Jan-
uary, the number of Israelis killed
by Islamic Jihad and Hamas ter-
rorists stood at 123. It is an ago-
nizingly familiar tide of terrorism,
invoking memories of 1972,
which culminated in the Munich
massacre and the raid on En-
Into this swirling mix of rage,
brutal politics and grief Mrs.
Sperka has ventured.
From mid-December to the
end of January, Mrs. Sperka met
with more than 20 Israeli fami-
lies who have been left as "sur-
with the daunting task of sorting
through the many stacks of col-
lected material. She is haunted
by the many stories of the victims
torn from their lives.
Mrs. Sperka says that her com-
memoration of the victims comes
at a defining moment for the Is-
raeli government as well as her-
From Mrs. Sperka's collection: "These people are not numbers."
vivors" after the terrorist murder self as an artist.
of a family member. She traveled
Jewish history teaches that
throughout Israel — Samaria, stories must survive. So, too, Mrs.
Judea, Gaza, Hebron — collect- Sperka's work undoubtedly will
ing news clippings, memorial include the stories of a widow
booklets, photographs, video im- who only began to talk about the
ages and audio recordings.
terrorism attack on her husband
The material will be arranged five years after it happened; a fa-
for a multimedia exhibit in July ther whose daughter living in
at a yet-to-be named gallery.
Buenos Ares had been killed
"I want it to be strong, yet sen- when the Israeli embassy was
sitive to people's feelings," she bombed; the parents of a young
said. "I feel an obligation to these Israeli solider who had been kid-
people to memorialize their chil- napped, tortured and killed; and
dren. They all speak about not recent immigrants from Russia
killing children, but an entire who traveled on a Haderah bus
generation of young people have at the wrong time and place.
And there is the story of a
For now, Mrs. Sperka is faced builder, killed by a drive-by gun-