Curtailing The Target
uth Moss-Katsnelson is perplexed that the gov-
bus bombings would also end what she calls "the horrible
ernmentand the two private bus companies in
ripple effect," from the Israeli army's siege on Arafat's West
Israel, Egged and Dan, haven't done more to try
Bank compound to the rise in anti-Semitism across Europe.
to stop buses from being targeted by Palestinian
Tying the ripple effect solely to the bus bombings seems a
stretch, but they do tend to grab the biggest headlines, so
"I have a hard time understanding why more isn't being
there's reason to hear what Moss-Katsnelson has to say..
done to protect the safety of bus riders," the West
"If it is in our power to wear ID badges, pre-pay bus fares
Bloomfield resident wrote in an e-mail message last week.
and have a dog sniff you, what is stopping this? Is it denial?"
"Why hasn't a systematic security approach been started?"
That's a good question.
She says she has tried to e-mail Dr. Ephraim Sneh, Israel's
With previously popular targets like
transportation minister, but the message bounced back. She
restaurants and nightclubs hiring armed
says she's at her wit's end about what to do to publicize her
guards to control entry, Islamic radicals tied
call for better bus safety in the Jewish state.
to Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat
"What does it take to move the government and bus
have turned to attacking a powerful symbol
company to action?" she asks, eager to make something
of the Jewish homeland — the bus lines.
happen so no one else there has to die doing what should be
The conspicuous buses and their unsuspect-
simple — taking a bus to get around.
ing riders have proven less-imposing targets.
Moss-Katsnelson grew up in Oak Park and Southfield.
In a Sept. 26 attack, for example, five
Her husband, Gennady Katsnelson, is Russian. They and
Israelis were killed and 50 others were
their two daughters belong to Congregation B'nai Moshe in
wounded when a bomb ripped an Egged
bus apart in the heart of Tel Aviv. Police
The couple have cousins who live on both sides of the
said the bus driver died trying to stop the attack, probably
Green Line, which marks Israel's pre-1967 border. Moss-
saving lives in the process.
Katsnelson favors statehood for the Palestinians if
More than 100 Egged passengers have been
they somehow can halt the bombings and if reasoned
killed and about 600 have been wounded since the
terms and borders can be brokered.
latest Palestinian uprising began in September
She doesn't know what spurred her to speak up
2000. The Egged Bus Cooperative says the vio-
now "I finally feel there is nothing to lose by asking
lence has caused such fear of public buses that pas-
questions," she said "Anything to slow down a ter-
senger numbers have fallen by 10 percent.
rorist might be helpful."
Why do any Israelis still travel by bus, I've begun
With El Al Airlines' vaunted security to draw on
to wonder, 25 months into the intifada, which has
Israel could -do more in the way of bus safety, she
taken at least 625 lives. Why do the buses still run
says. Discouraging attacks is key to answering the
if they continue to be sitting ducks?
riddle of the intifida, she says, noting: "I see very lit-
Gil Troy, a history professor at McGill University
tle good coming from military action alone."
in Montreal, eloquently explains why in an opin-
ion piece he wrote for the May 1 Montreal Gazette.
"The Egged bus represents the down-to-earth, communi-
I shared Moss-Katsnelson's concerns with David Roet,
tarian, egalitarian and democratic nature of traditional
deputy consul general at Israel's Midwest Consulate in
Zionist ideals," wrote the former member of Young Judaea,
Chicago. He reminds that most bus attacks fail and go
the largest Zionist youth movement in North America. It
"evokes the Israel of yesteryear, the Israel of the kibbutz, the
Deterrents include training drivers how to spot suspicious
collective farm and the immigrant."
people and urging heightened awareness. For its part, the
As Israel modernized, Troy said, the Egged bus functioned government has added bulletproof glass and plating to
as "a throwback to harsher, but simpler times, as well as a
buses, special patrols on vulnerable routes, and surveillance
challenge not to lose some traditional ideals."
at terminals near problem areas and selected bus stops.
And "as more Israelis crowded their narrow streets with
Intelligence also is better.
bigger and fancier cars, Egged buses did what mass trans-
"Israel must deal with daily terror attacks and increasingly
portation should do everywhere, serving everyone in a
tough fiscal-constraint restraints," Roet said. "While no sys-
cheap, safe, efficient manner."
tern is 100 percent certain to stop all attacks from succeed-
As Israel's prosperity grew, he added, "Egged became the . ing, the safety of Israel's citizens is always the government's
lifeline of those who were left behind, and those who were
not yet ready to leap ahead: the immigrant and the student,
He vows "no expense will be spared and no idea will go
the very old and the very young. It is, alas, that very accessi-
unexplored in creating the best possible protection for bus
bility that has made the Egged bus such an easy and tempt-
ing terrorist target."
In the past few years, Moss-Katsnelson says, she discov-
And it is the special texture Egged brings to the tapestry
ered "the big picture" through positive, systematic thinking.
of Israel that keeps it going, despite the heavy toll it has suf-
Now, she says, she's eager to help inspire a lasting peace in
fered in the intifada. With steely resolve, the Israeli govern-
the war-torn Middle East.
ment already has replaced the'buses blown up or damaged.
She says she's ready to "effect change," if only she knew
how. "I was born to be a change agent," she says. "That's
Easing The Ripples
my mission in life.
A school social worker who likes to approach matters sys-
"My husband thinks I'm always trying to save the world.
tematically, Moss-Katsnelson believes a halt to the deadly
He's right. I'm a social worker." El
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