Petra Heldt in Jerusalem's Shuk where a suicide bomber almost took her life: Photo: Dexter Van Zile

It has been more than 20 years since Petra Heldt was nearly killed by a suicide bomber, but she can still tell you the exact time the bomb went off. “One point sixteen in the afternoon. I know because my watch stopped,” she says. Then she laughs.


And that’s the thing. Her laugh. When Petra tells you about surviving a suicide bombing attack in Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda Market on July 30, 1997, she laughs. She laughs with astonishment of having survived the attack and the kindness shown to her by friends and strangers on the day of the attack and in the years since. She laments the 16 people who were killed in the attack, but she has no room to obsess about the bombers who tried to kill her and drive her from the land. Instead, she focuses on the Israelis who saved her.

She laughs with astonishment when describing how a random taxi driver stopped her as she ran in the street away from the attack and pushed her broken and bloody body into the back seat of his car — without regard for the blood she was shedding on his upholstery.

“I wish I could remember his name because this was such a wonderful deed,” she says.

Petra laughs with gratitude at the kindness shown by another passer-by, a woman who barged into the back seat of the taxi, sat close to her and held her hand on the way to the first aid station. “I’m not letting you go on your own in this situation!” the woman told Petra.

The woman showed no sign of fear or panic despite the damage done to her charge’s body. Petra’s left foot was nearly cut in half crosswise and her face was numb with pain. She thought her face had been torn open. Petra wasn’t even sure if her nose was still attached. (Thankfully, it was.)

“I didn’t want to ask if my nose was blown away, so I asked her, ‘What do I look like?’ and she said, ‘Oh, if you have two or three operations it will be all right,’” Petra explains before—you guessed it—laughing some more.

Then there was the kindness shown by a social worker who rode with her in the ambulance to Hadassah Hospital after her taxi brought her to an emergency aid station that had been established in the aftermath of the attack.

“I remember clearly the doctors were waiting in the street for the victims to arrive,” Petra says. “It was amazing, they were all so prepared. It was very quickly decided to be passed to Hadassah. I was put into an ambulance and in the ambulance there was a young lady, a student from Canada.”

The woman was doing an internship with Magen David Adom as part of her training to be a social worker.

“She asked me, ‘What is your name?’” Petra says incredulously. “I mean, what do you do with a horrible looking injured person? But she talked to me and asked me my name and I said ‘Petra’ and then she said, ‘This is the most beautiful name I’ve ever heard.’” Here Petra laughs even more. “I was so amazed with her response. The kindness was just so amazing. It was only just the beginning of hundreds of millions of kindnesses I got.”

Petra Heldt has been a fixture in Jerusalem’s ecumenical community since the early 1980s. She first arrived in Israel in 1979 for one year to serve as an unpaid on-the-ground administrator for a program that promoted Christian-Jewish relations run by the Church University of Berlin (now known as Humboldt University) where she got her degree in theology in 1980. She wrote her thesis on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Her interest in Israel and the Jewish people began during her first semester of college in the early 1970s. Petra was born a few years after World War II, but the first time she was exposed to the horrors of the Holocaust was during her first semester in college. She went to a private off-campus seminar where she obtained a book about a woman physician, Dr. Adler, and her time in the death camps. She was petrified.

She knows it’s hard for people, Israelis especially, to believe, but the fact was that the subject was mainly taboo in the aftermath of the war.

“I was in such a shock once I found out. I had millions of questions. I do not remember that my school taught it. Israeli people believe it’s not possible,” she says. “Yes it is.”

“At the university it was never even mentioned, even once,” she said. “And my specialty was Hebrew and the Old Testament. Israel was the Israelites, not modern-day Israel,” she said. Eventually, when they did start to address it, Protestant professors spoke as if Protestant church leaders were “all in the resistance,” she adds. “I learned about the collaboration only much later and then only gradually and incrementally.”

A perusal of the academic literature on Germany’s collective memory about the Holocaust lends credence to Petra’s testimony. Leaders in East Germany portrayed their country as having broken entirely with German history after World War II. Using this logic, the East Germany government portrayed its subjects as having no obligation to take moral account for their role in the Holocaust.

And in West Germany, where leaders accepted legal responsibility for the crimes committed by the Nazi regime and compensated survivors, there was what Eric Langenbacher describes as an “amnesty mentality” which encouraged people to sweep the crimes of the Holocaust under the rug. There was some tendency to highlight and emphasize the German resistance against the Nazis, but for the most part, there was a refusal to come to grips with the dark side of German history.

The taboo against confronting the evils of the Holocaust was punctured somewhat by the trial of Adolf Eichman which took place in Jerusalem in 1961. Subsequent trials of members of the mobile killing units who killed at least 1 million Jews in Russia, Poland, and the Baltic States, helped force discussion of the Holocaust in German society. Still, the taboo against addressing the Holocaust exerted itself in West Germany until the late 1970s when a nine-hour miniseries, “Holocaust,” produced in the United States, was aired on German television.

“‘Holocaust,’" said Bremen Mayor Hans Koschnick today, ‘helped jolt those Germans awake who still don't know what was done in the name of Germany,’” The Washington Post reported on Jan. 23, 1979.

According to The Washington Post, some viewers called the TV station to ask why it was airing the show because it would only open old wounds. Others, however, called the station and asked, “How could this have happened?” It was this question that prompted Petra to volunteer in Israel.

Once in Israel, Petra expected to stay a year. When the school couldn’t find anyone to replace her as administrator for her church’s program in Israel, she stayed for another year and a half in the position before returning to Germany. During her time in Israel, she began studying the Talmud and the Midrash and had hoped to share her knowledge and love for Israel with her colleagues and students upon returning to Germany. She had no such luck.

There was simply no interest in her insights on Christian-Jewish relations and the modern state of Israel back home. The taboo hadn’t been broken completely.

“I found that my experience in Israel had no ‘room’ in Germany,” she says. “It was a non-story. It seemed to be a disturbing factor.”

After being ordained in the Berlin-Brandenburg Church (part of the Evangelical, or Protestant, Church in Germany) Petra returned to Israel after she was offered a chance to serve as a pastor at a Christian Kibbutz in the Galilee. During her time at the kibbutz, she began studying Hebrew and lectured about the early church, Judeo-Christian relations, and Christian Jewish theology.

She got her big break in 1987 when she was offered the directorship of the Ecumenical Research Fraternity in Israel (EFRTI) which had been founded to further a new understanding of the Jewish people that had been advanced in the years after the Holocaust and affirmed by numerous church statements, most especially Nostra Aetate issued by the Second Vatican Council in 1965.

The EFRTI, founded in 1965, boasted the support and involvement of some of the leading intellectual lights in ecumenical Christianity, including theologians and scholars from the Anglican, Baptist, and Catholic traditions. Scholars associated with the organization were asking “fundamental questions about Christian theology vis a vis the Jewish people and Judaism,” Petra said. “The exegetical, dogmatic, historical foundations of Christianity were seen in a new light.”

The fraternity’s work to address Christianity’s treatment of the Jewish people was complicated by Israel’s victory in the Six Day War in 1967. Arab Christians leaders who had previously stymied Christian efforts to rework Christian theology toward the Jewish people in the years after the Holocaust stepped up their game after the Six Day War.

In particular, they began bringing their grievances against the Jewish state into the discussion of Christian-Jewish relations, basing their attacks on the notion that by defending themselves against largely Muslim violence against their homeland, Israeli Jews were oppressing Christians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The process took decades, but it was through controversy over the Arab-Israeli conflict that many anti-Judaic tropes that had been condemned in the years after the Holocaust were reintroduced into the discourse in some of the very same churches that had previously distanced themselves from anti-Judaism.

The process could be seen in a number of institutions. The World Council of Churches, along with the Tantur Institute in Jerusalem, became centers of anti-Zionist activism, supporting figures such as Rosemary Radford Reuther, Marc Ellis, and Geries Khoury, author of The Intifada of Heaven and Earth. Petra’s husband, scholar Malcolm Lowe, reports that the cover of this text, published in 1990, “consists of a photograph of a church tower on which the PLO flag has been hoisted.” The “church and tower were covered with Islamic slogans such as ‘Islamic jihad!’ and ‘Allah is the greatest!’” Lowe wrote in a withering takedown of the text in the early 1990s.

Khoury’s book, published at the height of the First Intifada, should have been a warning to Western churches as to what was going on, but it wasn’t. As the years progressed, these churches began sending staffers to the Holy Land who were more interested in political activism and advocacy for the Palestinians than in dealing with issues related to Christian-Jewish relations. They did not understand that the supersessionist impulse, which had played such a destructive role in Christian attitudes toward Jews, was also prevalent in Islam, which hindered their ability to understand the Arab-Israeli conflict.

“They had neither an education in Judaism, Israel, or the Jewish people, nor did they have any interest in these subjects,” Petra said. As a result, the pool of ecumenically-minded clergy who were previously the fraternity’s base of support started to shrink. “At the same time the Catholic church started to deemphasize Nostra Aetate and had less of an interest in promoting Judeo-Christian relations on a theological level,” she said.

Motivated by shock of the realizing that Christian theology had played a role in facilitating the murder of Jews in Europe, Heldt persevered, working to hold the line against the growing hostility toward Israel in the ecumenical community, much of it promoted by Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, an Anglican priest in Jerusalem.

For many years, Ateek had been at the forefront to delegitimize the Jewish state in liberal Protestant churches in Europe and North America. Through their work at the Fraternity, Petra and her husband Malcolm hoped to alert the world about Ateek’s agenda in the mid-1990s, after the publication of his first book, Justice and Only Justice. Like Khoury’s text mentioned above, Ateek’s book helped legitimize Arab and Muslim hostility toward Israel as a Jewish state to Western audiences.

“I invited Naim Ateek to give a lecture to the Ecumenical Fraternity at the time when we still had all the Christian intellectual stalwarts in Israel and with ease they were able to refute the lecture in a discussion afterwards,” Petra says.

Ateek never came back to speak again at the Fraternity’s meetings, but did go on to invoke anti-Judaic passages from the Gospels to demonize Israel during the Second Intifada, declaring, for example, that the Israeli “crucifixion machine” operated daily in the disputed territories.

As the attacks against Israel became more nasty, so did the personal attacks against Petra and the organization she led. Coinciding with the personal attacks was a decline in funding. As the Fraternity did what it could to warn the ecumenical community about the anti-Zionist agenda of folks like Khoury and Ateek, the funding from Western churches that had previously supported the institution started to dry up, forcing Petra to look for other ways to keep body and soul together in the land.

Interestingly enough, the fraternity did continue to get some funding from an American pastor, Paul Hoffman, who worked for the Protestant church in Germany. “He was a staunch pro-Palestinian, but he liked the work we were doing in the fraternity and could not understand the horrible attacks that happened against me.”

Speaking with officials from the Protestant church in Germany, they dismissed Hoffman’s generosity. “One of the Germans in the church said, ‘Ah, but that is the typical American generosity.’” Eventually, the funds dried up almost altogether, but not completely.

“There was one friendly German lady pastor leading a Church organization through which she found ways to modestly give some support to the Fraternity,” Petra said. Sadly, this source stopped when the pastor finished her term as the director of the organization.

“She was a hero,” Petra said. Her name is Ingrid Homann,”

The money hasn’t dried up altogether. Some friendly church parishes, encouraged by pastors who support Israel continue to solicit donations for the Fraternity which cover the rent and expenditures of the non-profit organization. Still, it was a tough thing for the Fraternity when Western churches previously committed to dealing with Christian-Jewish relations distanced themselves from the organization.

“I had to stay afloat somehow,” Petra stated. To obtain work as a professor and a scholar in Israel, she began working on a Ph.D. in patristics and hermeneutics from Hebrew University. She had just begun research on her dissertation when the first of two bombs went off on that fateful day in 1997.

It was a Wednesday afternoon when two students from Bir Zeit University, a Hamas stronghold in the West Bank, entered the market. “They were students of, if I remember, physics or chemistry,” she says.

The school had been shut down by the Israeli government for four years between 1988 and 1992 after Israeli officials had concluded it was a center for anti-Israel violence. According to The Los Angeles Times, Israel allowed the school to reopen after European governments had canceled scientific exchanges protesting the closures of Bir Zeit and several other schools in the West Bank. The bombers, Hamas members from Bir Zeit, who ultimately killed 16 people and injured 178 others, put themselves right in the middle of the market where they would do the most damage.

The first bomber had gone up to a stall in the market, pointed to a fish to purchase and handed the proprietor, a friend of Petra’s, a 200-shekel note. “At that time it was a huge amount of money,” Petra explains. “You don’t pay with a 200-shekel note for a fish.”

When the proprietor handed the man his change, the terrorist grabbed his arm and detonated the bomb in hopes of killing the man. (The proprietor was blown into the air and when he came down, his severed arm was lying on the ice used to keep the fish cold. His arm was preserved and later reattached. The proprietor is back in the market today.)

Petra had spent the day working at the EFRTI’s offices in Jerusalem and was at the market to buy fresh vegetables for a dinner she was preparing from a Canadian scholar of the Dead Sea Scrolls. She was looking for tomatoes when suddenly she heard a loud boom. Miraculously, the explosion left her unscathed. But there was another bomb to come.

Everyone in Israel, Petra explains, knows that when there is one explosion, another soon follows, so its imperative to run away from the blast scene. Unfortunately, in her efforts to get out of the target zone, she ended up running toward the second explosion which threw her from one side of the market’s main street to the other, where she was engulfed by fire. She was five meters from the explosion.

“I thought, ‘This is stupid!’” she said to herself before getting up and running. Afterwards people asked her how she was able to move at all. “My foot was clapping open,” she said, laughing. “It was completely cut open.” She ran toward Jaffa Road which was where the taxi driver stopped and pushed her into his car to take her to the first aid station and from there she was taken to the hospital. During the ride she faded in and out of consciousness. She woke up in a hospital bed where she first saw her husband for the first time after the attack.

“I said, ‘Malcolm, what do I Iook like?’ and he said, ‘As beautiful as ever,’” she said. “It was so kind and I know that my husband never lies,” she says, laughing.

Then a riot of visitors began showing up next to Petra’s hospital bed. Two hours had passed since the attack when a friend of hers from the Ministry of Interior Affairs recognized her.

“You are here? What are you doing here?” the woman asked before using her phone to contact everyone in the Christian and interfaith community to tell them about Petra’s plight, and many of the people she called showed up to check in on her even as her bed was being moved from one part of the hospital to another where she underwent tests. The woman in charge of Christian affairs for the Jerusalem mayor’s office showed up. An anonymous rabbi came by and gave her a book of prayers.

“I don’t know how many people came, but they accompanied me from station to station. They pushed me into this room and that room at Hadassah and my visitors were waiting outside,” Petra said. “I had to go through all those tests to find out what injuries I have. I didn’t have time to think about it because there were constantly new people around.”

Alan Schneider, Jerusalem Director for B'nai Brith International and a long-time friend of Petra's was one of her first visitors.

"When I came by, she was unconscious, so I left her a note," he said. "I was shocked to see her in that condition."

After the tests and initial treatment, Petra was brought to the hospital’s newly established burn unit and was allowed to pick out which bed she was going to stay in for the next several weeks. The hospital staff then brought in another mattress and put it on the floor next to the bed for Malcolm to sleep on for the next few days.

Later she learned that the bed she had chosen was previously used by a Palestinian teenager who had tried to perpetrate a suicide bombing of his own but the bomb went off prematurely outside a hotel in Jerusalem. He lost three of his limbs, but survived the explosion. Upon leaving the hospital, Petra was told, he said he was going to try and perpetrate another attack with the limb he had left. “So this was the bed I had chosen,” she said.

Her first night at Hadassah, the nursing staff told Petra that over the course of the next few days, her face was going to swell up because of the damage it had endured from the explosions. The next morning she knew exactly what they had meant.

“I had a head like a balloon and it swelled and swelled to the point in the morning friends came and they passed my bed and they didn’t recognize me,” she said. “And Malcolm never said a word about my appearance,” she said, laughing. Despite Malcolm’s reassurances, Petra didn’t dare look in the mirror for fear of what she would see, but the fact was that even if she had, she wouldn’t have seen anything because her eyes were swollen shut. “I was effectively blind for several days.”

Petra was burned over 37 percent of her body. Some of the wounds healed on their own, but others did not. Some of the skin on her face, arms and neck had to be replaced with skin cut from her thighs. When she complained to one of her friends about the pain she was enduring, she was told emphatically that it was a good sign. It meant that her nerves were not completely destroyed, and her chances of recovery were much greater than they would have been if she felt no pain at all. That would have meant the nerve damage was so extensive that she might not survive.

“I had deep burns but they were not deep enough to destroy my nerves,” she said.

During her stay, Petra was counseled and visited by a rabbi from New York who had made Aliyah and volunteered at Hadassah as a psychologist. During her time in the burn unit, Petra asked the rabbi, whose first name was Pesach about how she should talk to a 13-year-old boy, an Arab, who had been badly injured by the bombing. He lived in Aida refugee camp north of Jerusalem, worked at the market three times a week to make some money and was well-known for his talents as a basketball player and was scheduled to participate in a tournament in Jordan later that summer.

His mother was profoundly devoted to his recovery, bringing food and milk from home, but having been burned over 90 percent of his body and having lost a leg, he had given up hope and had stopped eating.

“The rooms were all open towards the middle with glass so people could be monitored by the nurses,” Petra said. “We saw that he had stopped eating and I asked Pesach, ‘What can you do with such a boy? He commits suicide this way.’ And Pesach said, ‘What happened to him?’ ‘He lost a leg,’ I told him.”

“That’s all?” rabbi asked before lifting up his trouser leg to reveal he had a wooden leg. He had been run over by a car at the age of six.

“So he went over to the boy and at first he didn’t want to speak to him and then Pesach showed him his wooden leg,” Petra said.

From then on it was a whole different story, Petra said. “They started to be good friends and basically what happened was that Pesach nurtured this young man back to life.”

One day a group of girls from an Orthodox yeshiva came to visit her and asked what they could do for her. It was the summer vacation and instead of going to the beach, they visited the victims of the bombing. Petra, moved by their kindness asked them to sing a song for her.

“They said, ‘No we can’t because it’s before Tisha B’av, which is a mourning time,’” she said. “I had forgotten about it of course. They said, ‘We will come back after Tisha B’av and then we will do this. What song would you like to hear?’ I said, ‘I like Psalm 124 very much.’” (Psalm 124 includes the phrase “Blessed be the Lord/who has not given us as a prey to their teeth!/We have escaped as a bird/from the snare of their fowlers;/the snare is broken and we have escaped!”)

Petra Heldt holding poem presented by Yeshiva girls while she was recovering from a suicide bomber attackAfter Tisha B’av, the girls, who had come to visit from Beth El, returned and sang the song she had asked. “They not only sung the Psalm but painted a picture of the birds which escaped the nets and flew into the sky,” Petra said. The image remains in her drawing room to this day as a reminder of the kindness shown to her.

“There was so much love,” Petra said before telling another story. A man came into the hospital room, a young man in his 30s with long payot. He left a letter on her bed side table. Because of her wounds, Petra was immobile but she was able to see it was a check for a sizeable amount of money. As the man left, she called out to the man and said, “I’m sorry, but I’m not sure you want to give this to me because I’m a Christian.”

The man wheeled around and said, “Of course I want to give it to you! You were one of the people injured in the attack, correct? Mensch is Mensch!,’” he said. “It was so touching and then he rushed off.” As it turned out, every one of the other burn victims in the unit got a check for the same amount of money. Later, Petra found out that the man was a representative of an Orthodox Jewish organization that provides assistance to the victims of terror attacks. When a reporter from an Israeli newspaper came by to interview her, Petra gave the journalist the name of the organization.

“I told him, ‘You always speak badly about the ultra-Orthodox people, but look what happened to me,” she said. “He wrote the whole thing up and I told Malcolm when he came in that evening. ‘I’m so happy that they are going to have a good story about the Orthodox people for a change.’”

Malcolm remonstrated with her. “You shouldn’t have done this,” he said. “Don’t you understand he didn’t give you the name of his organization because it is a mitzvah. You have taken away the mitzvah from him. The mitzvah only works if you don’t put your name on it.”

For a while, Petra was chagrined, but eventually concluded that it was a good thing.

Another day, a woman came into her room with a long plastic rose. Breathlessly she declared, “Now I have to run off again.”

“Where do you have to go?” Petra asked.

“I have to take the bus back to Haifa,” she said.

“Did you really come from Haifa?” Petra said. “Did you come from Haifa to give me this rose?”

“Yes, I read about you in the paper and I wanted to tell you that we love you and now I have to rush back to get to the bus,” she said.

“Isn’t that something?” Petra said. (This time, she’s not laughing, but crying.)

Then there’s the organization that provide kosher Shabbat meals for patients and their visitors. “You can choose between milch and fleisch and you can have one portion, two portions, five portions as much as you can eat. I couldn’t understand the system so I refused the food because I couldn’t eat anyway, but Malcolm said, ‘Why didn’t you take it for me?’” Eventually, they provided food for Malcolm.

During her time in Hadassah, she was told that maybe it was time for her to go back to Germany to get proper medical treatment. She dismissed this out of hand. “I really went through all this for the land. This is where I belong. This is where I have to be. I’m not going to give into some terroristic attacks.”

Petra's determination to get better was an inspiration, especially for the people who saw how badly she was hurt in the aftermath of the attack, said Alan Schneider from B’Nai Brith.

"I remember her wearing the gloves they give burn victims," he said. "I could tell how much pain she was in, but she did what she could to hide it. Her spirit never failed." (She had to wear those gloves for the next three and half years.)

Several weeks after the attack, a newspaper columnist in Jordan praised the attack, writing, “We welcome the Mahane Yehuda operation as well as the jihad and 'estishad' (suicide bombings) that will follow it, nor will we apologize for the spilled Zionist blood nor condemn the heroic deeds of the 'mujahadin', which represent the spirit of the people."

“I couldn’t believe how stupid some people were,” Petra said, adding that once a fellow German visited her in the hospital and told her the attack was not perpetrated by Palestinians, but faked by the Israelis. “They pretended it was the Palestinians,” was the explanation her friend offered.

People had told her that because of the injuries to her hands that she needed to prepare herself to not be able to write again. “They said, ‘You will not use your fingers again.’ All kinds of things. ‘Prepare yourself.’”

And then she had another vision. “I saw myself in the tent of the highest,” referring to a passage from Psalm 27. “I saw myself being in the tent of the highest with the angels and archangels as my arms were completely covered in plaster.” In the vision, she was carried from one side of the tent to another. “I saw myself twice. First in plaster, completely in plaster and then I saw myself on the other side of the tent toward the entrance and I was complete.”

With this sign, Petra knew she would be completely healed. “And we prayed a lot.”

After six weeks in the hospital, Petra was released and had to go about the business of putting her life back together. During the first semester of 1998, just a few months after she was released from Hadassah’s burn unit, Petra began teaching as an adjunct lecturer at various institutions in Jerusalem.

“It was hard,” she said. “I was falling asleep all the time. I couldn’t concentrate. I had terrible pains.” Petra continued to go to lectures and seminars in Jerusalem and would fall asleep on the bus ride home.

Her supporters told her she needed to get on with her life, so she did. “I continued teaching and I continued writing my doctorate. I was sitting every day, seven hours a day at my desk to write my doctorate and I would write and write and write and the next morning I would throw everything into the bin and I’d start again. It went on for two years like this. Today, I would say it was coming back to thinking as a discipline.”

Eventually, three years later, she got her doctorate from Hebrew University and teaches at a number of schools in Jerusalem.

Several months after being released from Hadassah, Petra and a few other survivors attempted to visit the young Palestinian boy who was so badly injured in the attack. Riding in a van from Hadassah hospital, they arrived at the refugee camp and called the boy’s mother from the phone at the guard house. The mother said over the phone, “Please go away,” Petra said.

“Then the first stones were thrown so we turned away and that was it,” she said.

In the years since the attack, Petra and her husband continued the work of improving Christian-Jewish relations and promoting a more comprehensive understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Sadly, Petra points to a number of institutions that were previously committed to promoting Christian-Jewish understanding being transformed into organizations that promote anti-Zionist propaganda.

“At the Fraternity, we have tried to hold the line, but there’s not much of success story involved with the churches,” she said.

Bible-believing Christians have been called out of their churches to do the work as individuals, but as institutions, the churches have largely failed to apply the lessons of the Holocaust to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Petra reports.

“The Church has largely failed, but Christians inside those institutions have stood their ground,” she says. “This is the success story. Single individuals have never wavered but the churches often don’t follow the believers, but have instead squeezed them out of the institutions.”

When asked why she was able to keep up the fight against Christian anti-Zionism after the attack, Petra invokes her husband’s dutiful fidelity during her long recovery. She also downplays the horror of the attack always remindful of the fact that 16 people died as a result of the attack and that many others were wounded as she was. She also recounts a conversation she had with a first century rabbi from Jerusalem as she was fading in and out of consciousness in the back seat of the taxi. As she made her way to the first aid station, she had a vision that was more than a vision.

“I experienced Christ. Full stop,” she says. “It was Christ who came to me and he said that everything will be all right and, ‘I am with you.’ That’s what he said. And he gave me joy. Pure joy from then on. I experienced a joy I never had before in my life and it has carried me through all the time since.”


Dexter Van Zile is Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (camera.org). His opinions are his own.

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