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A bombed-out reminder - Anti-terrorism rally at UC Irvine showcases a raw piece of an attack made a year ago in Jerusalem (LA TIMES) Elia Powers, UC IRVINE 02/01/05)Source: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/pilot/news/la-dpt-terror01feb01,1,4381964.story LOS ANGELES TIMES LOS ANGELES TIMES Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
UC IRVINE — Born in Haifa, Israel, Merav Ceren returned to her native country in December for the first time since moving to the United States as a toddler.

Ceren, a UC Irvine junior and president of Anteaters for Israel, said it was time for her to reconnect with her heritage.

On Monday, she helped hundreds of students and community members make a visual connection to one of the more unsavory aspects of Israeli life.

Bus 19, a public vehicle that was attacked in a January 2004 Jerusalem suicide bombing, served as the backdrop for an on- campus "anti-terror" rally highlighted by passionate speeches from those directly affected by the attack.

Eleven people were killed and more than 50 injured on the bus, which is making its Southern California stop on an extended United States tour.

Ceren, who contacted the organization in charge of the tour, said the event was intended to be an eye-opener.

"It´s a chance for students to come together against terrorism," Ceren said. "When we say Israel must defend itself, this shows what sacrifices are made."

Jerusalem Connection International, a Christian group that supports Israeli causes, is operating the tour in hopes of raising awareness of international terrorism. On Sunday, the bus stopped at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles for a Holocaust memorial ceremony.

StandWithUs, a Los Angeles-based Israeli advocacy organization, was one of the sponsors of Monday´s event. Executive Director Roz Rothstein said she wanted students to be exposed to the realities of violence.

"I think people are getting numb to terrorism," Rothstein said. "They have to see something to believe it. Suicide bombing shouldn´t make people numb. We shouldn´t make it commonplace."

Anteaters for Israel, College Republicans and the Irvine Conservative Student Union were among the student groups who helped plan the event.

Students paid tribute to the bus-attack victims by standing behind their enlarged photographs and reading their biographies. Speakers also read personal descriptions of some of the Southern Californians who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The faces of 975 Israeli suicide-attack victims were placed next to the bus, which sits windowless but mainly intact, with a bent steel frame and rows of mangled seats.

Writer and public speaker Nonie Darwish, whose father was a part of Yasser Arafat´s Fatah movement and was assassinated by the Israeli Defense Force, urged the crowd to avoid complacency.

Reuven Hazan, a political science professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, pointed behind him to the bus as he told the story of a student who was killed on the way to class.

"When you are afraid to get on a bus or be in a cafeteria on campus, you are in a disengaged state — you are set apart from the rest of society," he said.

Hillel Foundation of Orange County Executive Director Jeffrey Rips said Monday´s event was appropriately timed, with the recent Iraqi election and the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Rips said he is working to promote dialogue between pro-Israeli and pro-Arab campus groups. The two have had a sometimes-contentious relationship.

The Muslim Student Union has scheduled an event from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday at the UC Irvine Student Center.

• ELIA POWERS is the enterprise and general assignment reporter. He may be reached at (714) 966-4623 or by e-mail at elia.powers@latimes.com. (Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times 02/01/05)

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