- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 20, 2004

Orthodox Jews and evangelical Christians have formed a coalition to spotlight Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israelis by importing and showcasing the wreckage of a bombed Israeli bus in several American cities.

For its mission of highlighting the horror of terrorism, the coalition is using Jerusalem Bus 19, which was blown apart in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Rehavia when a Palestinian detonated a bomb near the rear of the vehicle on Jan. 29. Eleven persons were killed, and 50 were injured.

The bus drew about 150 onlookers for two hours on May 6 near the Reflecting Pool on the Mall. A local group, Christians for Israel, and Zaka, an Orthodox Jewish organization in Israel that cleans up remains after suicide attacks, brought in Christian and Jewish speakers for a small demonstration next to the shattered vehicle.

“The reason why Americans are in Iraq today is so that, God forbid, our buses don’t look like that bus,” said Jeff Ballabon, president of the Center for Jewish Values.

Jews and Christians “need to join together,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether we agree on matters of theology and faith; it is whether we believe in good and evil.”

Bus 19 is on display through Monday at the D.C. Convention Center for a meeting of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee and then goes back by the Reflecting Pool through May 28. It next goes to Denver, Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City, among other cities. The Christians for Israel office in Manassas is coordinating the visits.

After the suicide bombing, Christians for Israel bought the bus for $100, then shipped it to the Netherlands to be displayed at The Hague in February during testimony at the International Court of Justice on the legality of the West Bank separation fence.

The group paid $40,000 to bring the bus from Amsterdam to the United States in March.

“We’ve gotten a number of Jewish organizations that have signed up to see it,” said Christians for Israel President James Hutchens. “In fact, more Jewish than Christian groups.”

Moshe Fox, minister of public affairs for the Israeli Embassy, called the bus “direct evidence to what terrorism is all about: the cold-blooded killing of innocents. The killing and maiming of innocent people is never, under any circumstances, for any cause, acceptable or justifiable.”

The civilians were killed, he added, “because they were Jewish. They died because terrorists hate their belief in freedom and liberty, their belief in the existence of two people, Israelis and the Palestinians, living side by side.”

Rabbi Gerald Meister, adviser on Jewish-Christian affairs for the Israeli Consulate in New York, told the crowd, “Behind you is an altar. … It is no longer a vehicle of transport. It is indeed a chariot of fire. The battle for our civilization has been joined, and we are being mobilized for that battle.”

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