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Interview with Naomi and Asher Ragan pt 1
Interview with Naomi Ragen and son Asher, a student in Harvard. The family had been at the Park Hotel for Seder when it was bombed and explain the explosion and their escape., INTERVIEWER:,First, Naomi, just pronounce your name and spell it, and just identify yourself , NAOMI RAGEN,My name is Naomi Ragen. N-a-o-m-I, R-a-g-e-n. [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS] , ASHER RAGEN:,My name is Asher Ragen, A-s-h-e-r. And I am Naomi's son. , INTERVIEWER:,(Inaudible) Naomi's son?, ASHER RAGEN:,I am a student in the middle of a PhD., in near, Middle Eastern history, at Harvard. , INTERVIEWER:,I would like to begin by asking you to describe -what it was like when you went through this - I'd like to ask you, Naomi, to describe what it was like, in your perspective, when you went there and (Inaudible) to join your family. And describe the immediate moments before the attack, where you were, what you were doing, and then please tell us what happened. ,13:02:05>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:,Well, first of all the holiday of Passover is a really difficult holiday to prepare for. My mother and father-in-law, my father-in-law is 90, and my mother-in-law is 78. They're both not in good health, and they are - my mother-in-law is an Auschwitz survivor. My father-in-law lost his family, his first family in Europe, and we're all he's got. And Passover is a holiday that families spend together. And so we're - you know, we're all thinking about it. Even though they live in Matanya [PH], there had been a number of terrorist attacks in Matanya. And so we were all very nervous actually about going there, we said, we can't let them have the Passover Seder without family. These are people who lost their family, we're all they've got left, and just the idea of them being there by themselves, we just said okay. And especially - my son came in especially from Boston, with his wife, to be with us during the Passover holiday. And he actually was the one who made the decision, he said, you mean we're not going to be together? And, when he said that, it was like, well of course we've got to be together. ,13:03:15>>>,So, we packed up all of our trepidation, and all of our fears, and we said, we've got to do this for them. And this is just something we have to - sometimes you have to do something for your family, even if you're afraid. So we went. And we stayed at a different hotel. They always stay at the Park Hotel, every Passover. It's not the first time. They stay there the whole week. , INTERVIEWER:,Is there a reason why they stay - is it a hotel for holocaust survivors? ,13:03:43>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:,Ah, the - The Park Hotel is, first of all, a moderately priced hotel, and it's a religious hotel. And my father and mother-in-law are modest people who they didn't want to stay at the fanciest hotel. And this is a very sort of family oriented place. And they stay there every year. It's something a lot of elderly people stay there. We, of course, dread invitations to the Park Hotel, because the food is so bad. But we go there for them, and they stayed there this year as well. We stayed at a more upscale hotel down the block. And we got ready for the Passover Seder, we all got dressed, and I lit candles before I left the hotel. And I want you to know that I, that I said a special prayer, because I was very nervous about being in a place where they had, had a number of terrorist attacks on that block, the row of Hotels that's - just a few weeks before, they had, they had - terrorists had come in and blown up children. It was a Bar Mitzvah, I think. Wasn't it? Something like that? You weren't there. I was there. It was a Bar Mitzvah, and they had attacked the children there. And it was, it was just a place where terrible things had happened. ,13:04:56>>>,So we said - I guess what I said was, to myself, we have to do this. And, of all places in Israel, why should they pick this place. What are the odds that they will pick this place? So, we all showed up. I came first. And - with my husband, my son is always late. So he got there after us.
Interview with Naomi Ragen and son Asher, a student in Harvard. The family had been at the Park Hotel for Seder when it was bombed and explain the explosion and their escape., INTERVIEWER:,First, Naomi, just pronounce your name and spell it, and just identify yourself , NAOMI RAGEN,My name is Naomi Ragen. N-a-o-m-I, R-a-g-e-n. [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS] , ASHER RAGEN:,My name is Asher Ragen, A-s-h-e-r. And I am Naomi's son. , INTERVIEWER:,(Inaudible) Naomi's son?, ASHER RAGEN:,I am a student in the middle of a PhD., in near, Middle Eastern history, at Harvard. , INTERVIEWER:,I would like to begin by asking you to describe -what it was like when you went through this - I'd like to ask you, Naomi, to describe what it was like, in your perspective, when you went there and (Inaudible) to join your family. And describe the immediate moments before the attack, where you were, what you were doing, and then please tell us what happened. ,13:02:05>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:,Well, first of all the holiday of Passover is a really difficult holiday to prepare for. My mother and father-in-law, my father-in-law is 90, and my mother-in-law is 78. They're both not in good health, and they are - my mother-in-law is an Auschwitz survivor. My father-in-law lost his family, his first family in Europe, and we're all he's got. And Passover is a holiday that families spend together. And so we're - you know, we're all thinking about it. Even though they live in Matanya [PH], there had been a number of terrorist attacks in Matanya. And so we were all very nervous actually about going there, we said, we can't let them have the Passover Seder without family. These are people who lost their family, we're all they've got left, and just the idea of them being there by themselves, we just said okay. And especially - my son came in especially from Boston, with his wife, to be with us during the Passover holiday. And he actually was the one who made the decision, he said, you mean we're not going to be together? And, when he said that, it was like, well of course we've got to be together. ,13:03:15>>>,So, we packed up all of our trepidation, and all of our fears, and we said, we've got to do this for them. And this is just something we have to - sometimes you have to do something for your family, even if you're afraid. So we went. And we stayed at a different hotel. They always stay at the Park Hotel, every Passover. It's not the first time. They stay there the whole week. , INTERVIEWER:,Is there a reason why they stay - is it a hotel for holocaust survivors? ,13:03:43>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:,Ah, the - The Park Hotel is, first of all, a moderately priced hotel, and it's a religious hotel. And my father and mother-in-law are modest people who they didn't want to stay at the fanciest hotel. And this is a very sort of family oriented place. And they stay there every year. It's something a lot of elderly people stay there. We, of course, dread invitations to the Park Hotel, because the food is so bad. But we go there for them, and they stayed there this year as well. We stayed at a more upscale hotel down the block. And we got ready for the Passover Seder, we all got dressed, and I lit candles before I left the hotel. And I want you to know that I, that I said a special prayer, because I was very nervous about being in a place where they had, had a number of terrorist attacks on that block, the row of Hotels that's - just a few weeks before, they had, they had - terrorists had come in and blown up children. It was a Bar Mitzvah, I think. Wasn't it? Something like that? You weren't there. I was there. It was a Bar Mitzvah, and they had attacked the children there. And it was, it was just a place where terrible things had happened. ,13:04:56>>>,So we said - I guess what I said was, to myself, we have to do this. And, of all places in Israel, why should they pick this place. What are the odds that they will pick this place? So, we all showed up. I came first. And - with my husband, my son is always late. So he got there after us. And I walked in, and, you know, you sit in the lobby. And I sat - my mother-in-law was there, and she was really happy to see us. And my father-in-law came down from the synagogue. And it was just the feeling that we had done the right thing, because here we were with our family, and they would have been all alone if we hadn't come. And the family gathered. I was there with my son, and his wife, and my younger son, and my husband, and my mother and father-in-law. ,13:05:40>>>,And the hotel started to fill up. And I started to look around. And I think everybody in Israel, simply because of what we've been through, whenever you see a crowd, you think like a terrorist. You think, oh, how many people could I now kill if I, if I did something. Because this place is so crowded. And I have to admit that, that idea went through my head. Not only that, but I - something very strange happened to me. I - I started to think that I had left the light under the kettle. I don't know why it occurred to me. And I started to envision my home with smoke, black smoke in the house, and the walls black, and then the whole house. And I said to my husband, I said, I think I left something on the stove. We have - I think - we have to do something. Maybe we should call one of the neighbors. But what I really wanted to do was get in the car and go home, go back to Jerusalem. That was the feeling that I had. And I don't know where that came from, that feeling. ,13:06:36>>>,And then all of a sudden, you know, we started talking. And I saw a security guard that was supposed to be at the door, walk into the hotel, and that made me even more nervous. And I said, where are we supposed to be? Because I saw people going into the main dining room to have, you know, set up their places and to start the, the traditional evening meal the Seder. I said, where are we gonna be? And my father-in-law said, oh, we're not gonna be in there with everybody else, I arranged a private Passover Seder just for our family, because I know how much my son (that means my husband), hates cantors. And there's gonna be a cantor down there, and we want to avoid that. ,13:07:16>>>,So I, immediately got up, and I said, let's go now. Even though they said the dining room wasn't opening until 7:30. I said, let's go now, it's upstairs, and I, I really wanted to get the family out of that lobby. Call it instinct, call it anything you want, I wanted to get them out of it. My mother and father-in-law said, we wanna' use the, the bathrooms, first. And I said, well we'll meet you upstairs. And I think my husband looked at me sort of oddly, thinking, why don't we just wait or something. And I couldn't explain to him that I couldn't wait, that we needed to go up immediately. And I sort of ushered everybody up the steps. And my mother and father-in-law, they went to the bathroom. ,13:08:00>>>,We go upstairs and we sat down, and the table was set with all the traditional foods, and with the wine. And I don't think we were there more than, I don't know, five minutes, maybe. When all of a sudden there was this rolling, rumbling sound, and I first, sort of, looked around. And I said, what could, what could that be? And all of a sudden the rumbling sound turned into this huge noise, this blast, and all of the windows broke. We were sitting in a place, which was surrounded by windows, and the glass blew in towards us. And so, you know, at that moment you're just fascinated by the glass flying towards your face. And you just look at it as if you're in a movie. But I'll never forget that sound, as long as I live. Because that sound was a statement, it was a language; it was somebody talking to me, telling me something. And I still think of it - to this day, I think of it as a language. It's a language. , INTERVIEWER:,Why was it a language? ,13:09:05>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:,It's because that sound, is an unmistakable sound, which means something. It means I hate you. It means I want you dead. It means I'm trying to kill you. And this is not something you can interpret any other way. When you hear a sound like that, you know that, that is what is being done. And that is what they're trying to do to you. , INTERVIEWER:,How long did it take you to realize that it was an act by someone determined to kill you, as opposed to - , NAOMI RAGEN:,An accident. , INTERVIEWER:,-an accident? ,13;09:35>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:,When I heard the rumbling noise, I thought it was an accident. When I heard that, that sound, it was unmistakable. , INTERVIEWER:,And what was your experience during this time? ,13:09:46>>>, ASHER RAGEN:,Well, I - before the explosion, we had just come up, and we were talking, sitting around the table, discussing something. My wife was telling my little brother about a Pepsi commercial with Halle Barry, I remember that. Then I took a few steps from the table to get something, and then we heard the explosion. I didn't hear any rumbling before. All I remember is an enormous explosion, louder than anything I've ever heard. And I've heard explosions before. I was in the army. I've heard missiles go off. I've herd explosions. This is the loudest thing I've heard. And I hit the ground, sort of, from the blast, and glass was all around me. And, and the next thing I remember, I looked around and I saw that there were no windows. And everyone was on the floor. It took about 1/10th of a second to realize that this was, it was a terrorist attack. I guess, in some way, I had been expecting it. And we came from Boston, so I wasn't - I hadn't gone through several weeks of worrying about Netanya [PH], and the site, and it being dangerous. ,And I didn't have the same level of attention as other people who lived in Israel the whole previous year, because I came from Boston. And we were only in Israel for three days. But the second it happened, I realized I had been waiting for it, on some level. Because immediately, there was no doubt this was an attack. There was even a sense of relief, to the extent that, okay, it happened, and I'm looking around, and I see that I'm okay, and my wife is okay, and we're not hurt, so we're past the worst part of it. ,But then, it was a matter of getting up, and running to where my wife was on the floor with my mother. And what went through, I think, all of our minds, is that our grandparents are still downstairs. , NAOMI RAGEN:,Right. ,13:11:25>>>, ASHER RAGEN:,I thought, at this point, because the glass blew in, I somehow had the sense that the explosion was outside the building, which was a mistake. After - we thought about that a lot that night, and then we realized that the way an explosion works is, it's - when it happens inside the building, it creates a vacuum, and then everything gets sucked inwards. And that I'm glad I didn't realize, at that second, that the explosion happened inside the building, because we knew our grandparents were downstairs. ,And, so my father went downstairs to look for them. And, at this point, I just tried not to think. And the only important thing was getting out. There were no stairs anymore, and there was smoke coming out from the stairwells, there were no windows. And, basically, half of the building, to our right, was -destroyed by the explosion. , NAOMI RAGEN:,And there was a waitress who came up, who was covered with blood. , ASHER RAGEN:,Right, there was a woman that - ,13:12:24>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:,[OVERLAP] I'll never forget that. [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS] We were standing there, wondering what to do. After we realized it was an explosion, and my in-laws were still downstairs, my, my husband went downstairs to find them. HE wanted to find out if they were okay. I was sure they were dead. I, I took one look down that staircase, and it was black smoke, and twisted metal, and, and just as I was looking down, two girls came up. I don't know, I think they were waitresses, covered with blood from head to toe. I have never seen anything like that. It was horrifying. And I realized, because she was walking, that she had not been injured. This was someone else's blood. , INTERVIEWER:,What did her face look like? What was the expression on her face? ,13:13:00>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:,You couldn't see the expression on her face. It was covered with blood. Her beautiful, long hair was covered with blood. You couldn't see anything. And this is a nineteen-year-old girl. And I realized, because she was walking, and this other girl was helping her, that probably she had not been injured. That this was the blood of someone she had been serving dinner to - downstairs in the place where the bomb went off, and she was covered with someone else's blood. It was terrifying to me. And I, I just wanted to get out of there. That's basically what I wanted to do. , INTERVIEWER:,And what did you do? ,13:13:32>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:,There were some children up there, that were running around, some boys, who were thirteen and fourteen, that were without their families. And I found out, later, that their father was killed in the explosion, downstairs. He was someone - the son-in-law of the owner of the hotel. And he told the kids not to bother him, he was busy, and he sent them upstairs. They were also having a private Seder, and they were there by themselves, at this big table. Their family hadn't arrived yet, and they were there. And they said, there's another way out, because they knew the hotel. This was their family's hotel. And they showed us that we could get downstairs. ,13:14:05>>>,And we took a vote, whether or not to wait for my husband to come back, or whether or not to go out. And then somebody said, I hear shooting. And, you know, that was another modis vendi, that we had heard of, the terrorist first blowing themselves up, and then sending people with shotguns or, you know, machine guns to finish off anybody who survived. And, and so when I heard that, I said, we have to get out of here. I just wanted out. You want out when you're in a situation like that. You just don't want to be in that place anymore. , ,13:14:33>>>,And I didn't want to go down from the staircase, where that girl had come up from. It looked terrible to me. I didn't know what was going on down there. So we went the back way. The only problem is the back way didn't lead us out of the hotel, it led us down to the pool area. And there were a lot of people milling around there. But, at the moment that I went down to that area, I looked across to the glass windows of the main dining room, where the bomb had gone off, and I will never forget that as long as I live. You know, the Passover Seder means, order. Seder means order. It's a very, very neat prescribed ritual. You eat this first, and this second, and there are things set up on a plate, exactly in a particular order. And when we had come in there was a white tablecloth, and there were the red bottles of wine, and everything was neat, and clean and beautiful. And I looked across, and I saw this terrible disastrous, catastrophic, blood covered, everything broken, everything destroyed. And I thought this is the opposite of the Seder. This is, they have taken this ritual and they have just, you know, defiled it. And made it into something which is, which is - is going to be unforgettable for the Jewish people, for the rest of time. That they did this, this defiling act, at this holy, at this holy ritual. ,So, we went downstairs to that pool area - , INTERVIEWER:,I just would like to know, before you went down to the pool area, or as you went down to the pool area, can you describe what this scene of carnage was like? ,13:16:15>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:,I didn't see any bodies, at all. Because we went out the back way. And the truth is, I would not have looked, had there been. It's something that you don't want to, you don't want to have inside your head. You don't want to look at this. And what I saw was the destruction of property, I saw blood. I didn't see any bodies, because we were too far away. , INTERVIEWER:,Did you wonder where people were? Where their bodies were? ,13:16:37>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:,You don't want to think about something like that. You just don't want to think about that. The first minute that you're in a situation like that, the only thing you want to think about is, first of all, is your family alive? And are you gonna get out of this with your family, with your children, are you gonna be alive, after this is over? Because I wasn't sure we were going to be. We got down to the pool area, and we couldn't get out. It was total chaos. Everybody was screaming. There were sirens outside. And then, I said, but how are we going to get out of here. And there was another staircase going down ,but it said, danger, don't come in. It was where they keep all the equipment from the hotel. And the generators are down there. And it was covered with water. The ceilings were leaking, everything was - and I said, well we're gonna get electrocuted down here. You know, how are we gonna get through this. ,And my son took the lead, and he walked forward, and I kept calling him to come back. I didn't know what to do. Whether we should go back or not. , INTERVIEWER:,Can you describe what it was like when you walked forward and you took the lead? ,13:17:31>>>, ASHER RAGEN:, Well, after trying to get out through the back way, we winded up going through a - we had gone down two floors, and now we went up a staircase and back into the lobby. We tried to avoid, initially, when we went out through the back. When we came out to the lobby, the water, the water-covered floor, and the water was dirty water - it was dirty with blood. And, and the lights didn't work. And, and there was a sort of black, and - muck, I'd say, all over the walls. And we walked right back into the lobby where we had been sitting, five minutes before, surrounded by people. And we were all in our finest clothes. I was wearing my nicest suit, and I remember my wife was wearing heals. And the puddle of water and blood was probably up to our ankles. I was trying to tiptoe through the lobby. And it's not that we wanted - you don't want to see anything, but it was unavoidable. The lobby was full of bodies. And this was five minutes after the explosion, when help - the ambulances had just begun arriving. ,13:18:32>>>,So, the lobby had some bodies that were covered. It was very dark, so you couldn't always make out everything, but you could see the silhouettes of bodies. And I remember one body, specifically that was where the - the lobby had a few tables and chairs, it also had some couches. And right next to one of the couches, where we were sitting next to a couple, and an older woman who was worried that her children hadn't arrived yet, maybe they got stuck in traffic. And right next to that couch, I remember seeing one body, and - with the hands stretched out. And -I - in a position - the body was laid out. It wasn't covered, but it was dark, so I couldn't see a face. But the hands were stretched out, forward. And I guess, from the impact of - the person had been sitting, and so was thrown to the ground. , INTERVIEWER:,Did you do - , NAOMI RAGEN:,It turned out to be her. , INTERVIEWER:,I was going to ask you. , NAOMI RAGEN:,It did turn out to be her, yes. It did turn out to be the woman we had been speaking to in the lobby. ,13:19:27>>>, ASHER RAGEN:,Yeah. Of the people that were in the lobby, the next day, when they started publishing pictures, and, and I sat and looked at those pictures, I recognized a few faces; the women who was sitting, worried about her children being late, was killed. And the children were late, actually. They were stuck in traffic, and they got there just a few minutes after the explosion. , NAOMI RAGEN:,I tried to comfort her. I said to her, you know, traffic is bad, and don't worry about it. You know, they'll be here. They'll be okay. She said, My husband is very worried. That's what she said, My husband is very worried. ,13:20:01>>>, ASHER RAGEN:,And there was another girl who was - she was this pretty, it turned out she was a soldier, but she was a pretty girl, who was tall, with long, black hair. And I remember thinking how she was wearing these bell-bottom jeans, as if she was waiting for the Seder to be over and she would be going out to some club. Natanya [PH] is full of dance clubs. I remember thinking how, only in Israel, would someone show up to a Passover Seder, wearing bell-bottom jeans, and clearly on her way out. And there was an older man who, as we were leaving synagogue, my grandfather introduced me to him. This was a - they had been going to the Park Hotel for years. So, they knew a lot of the people. This was one of their neighbors, who was also a holocaust survivor. And they usually sat at his table. And I recognized his face also. , INTERVIEWER:,As among the dead? ,13:20:48>>>, ASHER RAGEN:,As among the dead, yes. , INTERVIEWER:,What went through your mind when you looked at those pictures, in terms of the fact that you have survived this? ,13:20:58>>>, ASHER RAGEN:,It was a strange feeling, really. Because you know you've been given this enormous gift. And, as far as I was concerned, this was a complete fluke. We went upstairs a little earlier than we should have, and the Dining Room hadn't opened yet. But my, we were getting bored - it was boring to sit in the lobby. So we said, let's go upstairs. It was a complete fluke, for a million other reasons, we could have stayed downstairs. And so there's a sense of this very momentus event, this big gift that you've been given. And yet it was all so petty. It wasn't that we survived because of some great religious issue, because we prayed, or because we made the right moral decision. We didn't. We were just bored and we went upstairs. So there was this horrible sense of, what do I do with this? And I'm very happy that I survived, and does this mean anything? ,13:21:53>>>,It was very, very hard to go back to any sort of regular, regular sort of life. I went back to school a week later. My - I was on Spring Break, so a week later I was already back in school. And I remember, the first morning, when I got up and was going to go to class, I had already packed my bag and I was, you know, one foot out the door and then I said, I can't do this. I just can't sit in a classroom now and pretend that, I mean, that life is going back to normal. , INTERVIEWER:,What did you do? ,13:22:22>>>, ASHER RAGEN:, Well I called, I called my professor and said, I wouldn't be coming in, and explained very briefly what happened. Sitting in Boston explaining it was very surreal, almost. And I'm sorry, professor, but I was just in an explosion a couple of days ago, so I'm gonna be late for class today. It didn't make any sense. And then I just sat at home and realized I was going to have to give myself some time just to find a way to - find a reason to go back to normal. Because there doesn't seem to be any reason at all to do anything. And if everything is so petty, and if the reason that I'm here and, you know, other people are not, is some silly- I was bored, or it was crowded or - and the people who - , NAOMI RAGEN:,And your mother was telling you to go upstairs.,13:23:08>>>, ASHER RAGEN:, And my mother was, as usual, saying, come on, come on, let's go. And that's not a good enough reason to - for me to be alive, and for other people not to be alive. And it was just very hard to get any sort of perspective on what's important and what isn't. And why is what I'm doing important at all? It took a while. And at first we felt things would never go back to normal. There's a sense of - it can't be that I went through this and my life will be the same as it was. I have to do something. I have to fix the situation. But, after a few months, when we calmed down, sort of just very, very, very happy, you know, to be alive. , INTERVIEWER:,Do you find yourself having nightmares about it? ,13:23:53>>>, ASHER RAGEN:, No, I didn't have any nightmares. And I found myself, several times, after - initially, the day after the blast of - the week after the blast, I didn't go anywhere. I stayed in the house, I stayed in a place where I knew everyone. If there were more than five people in the room, I left. And in the last day, when we were in Israel, I wanted to do some shopping, and I thought, okay I'm up to it. It's been a week, and you know, grow up, it doesn't strike twice, and you've been through the worst so get on with your life. So, I remember walking into - taking the car and driving down to a shopping center and getting out of the car. I walked into the store, was there for two seconds and ran back into the car. I couldn't do it. I couldn't cope. ,13:24:35>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:,You don't have nightmares. You, you're just - every single time you're in a situation where there were people around, where there is a crowd, you have to get out of there. This is something that's going to be with us the rest of our lives. It's not something that happened, and you dream about it a few times and it's over. You can't be in a hotel lobby. You can't be in a place where there are a lot of people. This is something which -they've taken away our ability to enjoy things that everybody takes for granted. Going on a vacation, sitting with your family around the table. I don't know what we're going to do this Passover. I don't know what we're gonna' do. What are we - we can't - I mean, my in-laws can't go to a hotel. They'll have to go by themselves, and it would be difficult for them. I think they're going to be homeless here. And it's just something that they, that they took away from us as a family, that it's going to be very hard to get back again. , INTERVIEWER:,If someone would tell you, (Inaudible) the lobby of the _____ hotel, would you hesitate to go? ,13:25:33>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:, I would go. It's not the question of my never going into a hotel lobby, again. But if that hotel lobby starts filling up with people, or if I feel that there's not a good enough security check at the door, I won't say there. I will not go into a restaurant that doesn't have an armed guard standing at the door, and is not there, and going to remain there the entire time, that I'm eating. If there's no guard at the door, I don't go in. And it's very hard for me, when I go to the states, you know, where the situation is completely different, and there are no armed guards. And I always look around and I say, you know, this is really not safe. And I think, you think about all the ways that terrorists can destroy you wherever you are. , INTERVIEWER:,Do you shop in the supermarket? ,13:26:81>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:,I shop in the supermarket. But there are armed guards at the supermarket, at the entrance of the supermarket. Otherwise I wouldn't go into the supermarket. There are armed guards, everywhere. , INTERVIEWER:,In other words, the armed guard provides you with reassurance that things will be okay. , NAOMI RAGEN:, Well, he's standing there with a gun, and with a metal detector, and yes. I think that, at -that it's enough for me. , INTERVIEWER:,You didn't, you didn't explain how you found (Inaudible)? Who were they? ,13:26:47>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:,My son said he didn't get anything out of this. I will always look at this as just god's miracle. And that my prayers were answered, when I said for god to watch over me. That -that He did. And not only did he watch over me, but you have a woman - now I don't know how you explain something like this, rationally. You've got a woman that walks with a walker, that can't - it's hard for her to stand, and you have a ninety year old man, and they're coming out of the bathroom, and just as they open up the door, to come out of the bathroom, this enormous blast comes, and they just happen to be standing in the one spot, which is in between a wall, and in between another wall, which isn't damaged at all. So, they just happened to be - if they had been walking up the steps, if they had been two minutes later or two minutes earlier, there was no way that they could have possible survived this blast. They were right there. ,13:27:43>>>,And when I came through the lobby with my children, the first thing I saw was my mother-in-law in her white sweater. Because I remember she had this beautiful white sweater on, and she was standing outside the hotel, and the sweater was still white. And then I knew she was okay. That nothing had happened to her. She hadn't even - even her sweater hadn't been damaged. And my father-in-law was standing there, with his white hair, you know, in his suit, standing - and they were standing right outside. And of course they were anxiously waiting for us to come out. And my husband was already there with him. He had come up and back, looking for us a number of times. We had gone out a different way. And there they were, waiting for us. And I will always consider that just god's miracle, that nothing happened to them. , INTERVIEWER:,What did they say to you? ,13:28:25>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:,Well basically they - they wept. That we were alright. They wept. These are - you have to understand, for my father-in-law, this is his only son. He had a son and a daughter that were murdered in Auschwitz. He had a first wife that was murdered in Auschwitz. This is his son, his only son, left after all this that he's been through. And his son's family, these are his grandchildren. For it to happen to him once again, I mean, it's just unthinkable that, that whatever's being done to the people of Israel, is being done to holocaust survivors, and to their children who have been through so much. And there's so much lip service paid to the terrible deeds that were done to holocaust survivors, but, but what is being done to them in Israel is, is just an atrocity that people just don't seem to realize who, who they're blowing up, exactly, and who they're endangering. , INTERVIEWER:,Had he, in any conscious way, verbalize how he felt about this, in, in light of his experiences as a holocaust - ,13:29:29>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:, Well, what he did tell us is that he was so sorry that it was his fault. He shouldn't have invited us. And if anything would have happened to us, it would have been his responsibility, that's how he felt. And we had to comfort him and say, no, no, you got us a table upstairs, and that's what saved us. So, we tried to make him feel better. But there was no way to make him feel better. There was no way to make him feel better, after what happened. And I see - unfortunately he and my mother-in-law, I mean they, their health was really deteriorated since this happened. It's been almost a year and there's a tremendous deterioration in their hearing. And just-., INTERVIEWER:,In their hearing? ,13:30:07>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:,In their hearing and their mental state, and their ability to connect with the things that are going on around them, it was, it was a terrible experience for them. , INTERVIEWER:,Well, you know, that what happened here is something that happens to people all over this country, in different places, different locations, at different times. And I know that, as Israelis living here, you have feelings and thoughts about all these events. How, how do you see the situation in Israel, now, in terms of what can be done, in terms of where you're going, what's been happening, and is it any different than the way - sometimes [BACKGROUND NOISE] sometimes a person goes through an experience, and, and it alters the way they see it. ,You know, is it the same in America, is it - my neighbors out of work, it's a recession. If I'm out of work, it's a depression. So you've been reading about explosions, but now you've actually seen the damage. It's no longer a discussion. It's a reality in the most direct way possible. Does this move you over, with any direction, politically-did it crystallize any feelings that you had about the conflict and about how it might be resolved, and whether or not it can be resolved? ,13:31:39>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:,Well, I would say that, at the beginning of the whole Oslo process, everyone in Israel was very hopeful. And I live a five-minute walk from an Arab village, here, and I know some of the people who lived there. And there was a sense, at the beginning, that this would lead to some kind of - a just and lasting solution to all of the problems that we have had with the people that we live next door to, these are my neighbors that I live next door to. As we saw, more and more, the whole process turn into a disaster, in the sense that every time land was turned over to, to the Palestinian Authority, it became a place to manufacture suicide belts. And the people, indeed, that came to blow us up in Netanya [PH], were coming from a place that had been turned over only recently to the Palestinian Authority. And there was no way that they could have left there with a suicide belt, without the Palestinian Authority police knowing about it, and supporting them, and allowing them to go. So, the whole thing turned into a - a feeling of hope, that turned into the feeling of having been had. Here we wanted something to work out, and it was used against us in the worst possible way. ,13:33:07>>>,But I think - when I say that, that bomb blast was a language, that is exactly what I mean. I mean that, here we were in conversation with our enemies, with Palestinians and Moslems in the area, for eight years. The Oslo Process has been going on for eight years. And this was what they had to say to me, personally; to me and to my family, after eight years of trying to come to a peaceful solution, this is what they had to say to me. I am going to blow you up, I'm going to kill you, kill your family, and that is what we have to say, as the result of the Oslo Process, we now have the ability to do this. Because your army is no longer here, and so we're going to have the ability to put on suicide belts, and take our weapons, and come in, and when we couldn't get what we wanted through negotiations, we're just gonna kill you. And that is how they're gonna get what we want. ,13:34:05>>>,And what I felt, very strongly, is that people don't understand that this is not just something that's happening to Israel and to Jews and to Israelis. This is something, which, is against all the norm, that the civilized world has been trying to inculcate. You have the Geneva Convention on human rights, which states, in no uncertain terms, that no matter what your problem is, it is a crime against humanity, and it is a crime to ever think that you can attack non=competence, people who are even off-duty soldiers, are not allowed to be attacked for any purpose. You're not allowed to kill civilians. And it doesn't matter what your political agenda is. This is the Geneva Convention on Human Rights. This is what it says. And you have the UN charter of human rights, which says, you do not attack non-competence. ,13:35:00>>>,And what has been happening in Israel is a precursor to what is - the rest of the world has already begun to face with terror attacks all over the world. When you say, okay, sympathetically you have - I see this on the press and it drives me crazy when they say, oh yes, but you know, he came from a poor family. Or, their economic situation isn't bad - isn't good. And, the occupied territories. Yes, but there is a certain redline that we, in the civilized world have said, which is, you don't kill non-competence. You don't kill women and children on purpose. ,13:35:40>>>,We're not talking about a situation where, when you're trying to protect yourself and you're in a situation this - the Geneva Convention on human rights calls collateral damage. There is a tremendous difference between targeting a terrorist, and accidentally, and very terribly killing someone who is standing by. And of course, a lot of these places are filled with - you know, you keep a bomb factory in an apartment house, and it blows up, you're gonna kill a lot of people who were not involved. ,13:36:04>>>,So, we're not talking about collateral damage. We're talking about walking into the hotel where you have people who are in the middle of, of celebrating a religious festival. You've got old men, old women, grandparents, grandchildren, babies, and walking into them indiscriminately and blowing them up, because you want to make some kind of political point. That is completely, and absolutely, not acceptable under any civilized rule of thumb. , INTERVIEWER:,Well, in the - I'll play Devil's Advocate, and tell you what we see on television, when we hear them explain why they do what they do, is, is that they say, (Inaudible), we don't have an army, we don't have a country, we don't have any weapons. We, we, we, we totally - we've been totally been dehumanized, and we have no way of fighting. We couldn't - we don't have a bomb to bomb anybody. We don't have a helicopter, and we don't have a tank. How do we counter that? How do you answer that? It's not that they're saying, we're under occupation. It's that they're saying, suicide bombing is absolutely the only weapons that we have to make ourselves heard in the world - to show them that we're so desperate that we're willing to sacrifice our children for the cause. ,13:37:22>>>, NAOMI RAGEN:,Let me say something, and then I guess you want to add something, also, to this. I'd like to say that this is a total lie, from beginning to end. In order to have suicide belts - [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS] When you say that the reason people are using suicide bombings and acts of terror, is because they're desperate, because they have no way of fighting back, they don't have an army, they're defenseless, and the only way that they can, as the underdog, fight back this enormous army and air force, is to go with their brave martyrs and blow themselves up, because this is the only way that they can fight for their freedom, this is a lie. It is a lie, because in order to have a suicide belt, in order to have suicide bombers, you need a tremendous organization that comes behind this. ,13:38:09>>>,When you look at the Hamas, which are the people who take responsibility for these things you take a look at an organization, which is financed, in the billions, by Saudi Arabia, by Iran, by Iraq, by Syria. You have tremendous amount of money involved when these things take place, in order to allow them to take place. Somebody's got to manufacture these suicide bomber belts. Somebody's got to get the equipment to do this. Somebody's got to pay out the families of the martyrs, and they pay them thousands of dollars every time some - we see this on Israeli television. When somebody blows themselves up, somebody has to give thousands of dollars to the family, in order to make it worth their while. And sometimes the Israelis blow up these people's houses, and someone has to pay them for that. ,13:38:52>>>,So, there are huge organizations all over the world, that are backing these people. If you have somebody who is helpless and defenseless, he takes a rock, and he throws a rock at you. If you've got a very elaborate organization, the payoff's, and payments, and suicide belts, and bombs, and everything, that is not really poor and defenseless. [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS] ,13:39:18>>>, ASHER RAGEN:, Since I only have two minutes, I'll say, briefly, I was in the army when the Oslo accords were signed. I was in the army, patrolling refugee camps, in the Palestinian territories, and there was no one happier than me that we were leaving. I hated being there. I voted for the peace process, every opportunity I had. And there was a tremendous sense of relief. We are leaving, let them run their own country, let them do whatever they want. We won't have any more friction, there won't be any more trouble. I don't want to be there, they don't want me there. Great. It sounds like a wonderful idea. And the result of the peace process has been that, when I was growing up, I never had to worry about getting on a bus. ,13:39:55>>>,Now no one in Israel can ever - can let his child get on a bus without worrying that he won't get off. And it's even more frightening to me when I hear them say - explain that we don't have planes, so we have to bomb you with suicide bombers. What does that mean? That if they had planes, their planes would be bombing the hotels with the holocaust survivors and the children? If they had tanks, the tanks would be doing the shelling? The point is that they're targeting civilians. They're targeting children, they're targeting grandparents. They're cowards. They're cowards who are striking at the weakest people. ,13:40:25>>>,It's not a question of them having no other choice. They have many other choices. For example, negotiating, building a state, and letting us leave quietly, which is what we would all love to do. But they had that choice, they looked it in the eye and they said, no thank you we have another - something else on our agenda. And that something else, apparently, involves getting rid of the State of Israel. And it's not that I wanted to believe this, because this means we're going to be at war for a very long time, unless they decide that they're willing to compromise. But, having made the compromise, having made the leap of faith and said, okay, I'm leaving your refugee camps, I don't want to be involved in your lives anymore, I don't want to run anything for you. ,And having seen the security situation deteriorate unspeakably, since then, it's going to take a lot for me to make another leap of faith. Trial and error is not a way to run foreign policy. And if I want this country to be here in ten years, and in twenty years, we're gonna have to have very good reasons to renegotiate with these same people.
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