The Old City of Jerusalem is both magical and cursed at the same time. It is filled with so much hope, yet so much suffering. The Jewish people had waited thousands of years to walk those streets again, just to be near a place of the Shechinah.
Our people knew ups and downs, we built a kingdom in the Holy Land and we witnessed its annihilation. After the destruction, we were scattered all around the globe, where we were shamed, chased, and slaughtered.
In fact, what drew us back and connected us was these few hundred square meters, where recently Jews once again have been getting murdered.
I remember almost all of them by their names. Eliyahu Amedi was killed on Shabbat in 1986. As a child I remember the rumors of his death reached the Jewish quarter where we lived. We rushed to the only place where you could receive the latest information even on Shabbat - the Western Wall.
The place was crowded, the tensions were in the air, and sirens were ringing all around us, breaking the Shabbat silence in the religious neighborhood of Jerusalem. Then, all of a sudden, handcuffed and wearing only underwear, the killers of Eliyahu were brought into the Western Wall Plaza. It was so absurd and unthinkable to see murderers in their underwear at the holiest place in the world.
A year later, Yigal Shachaf was murdered - also on Shabbat. I remember the adults were talking after Mincha - afternoon prayer - and saying "a Jew was shot."
Three and a half years later, on February 28, 1991, my brother Elhanan Atali was on his way to a Yeshiva where he studied, but he never made it, having been stabbed and killed on the same cursed streets.
After him, more Jews were murdered in those alleyways: Gabriel Hirschberg, Chaim Kerman, Nehemia Lavi, Aaron Bennet, and Adiel Coleman. My family knew most of them. They all had one common thing in common - unconditional love for Jerusalem.
You don't love this city the way you love a "regular" city, there's something else that's hard to put into words. A connection of historical consciousness, tradition, and belief that this place is the heart of the Jewish people.
You don't like this city the way you like a normal city, there's something else that's hard to put into words. A connection of historical consciousness, tradition, and belief that this place is the heart of the Jewish people.
Apparently, the love for Jerusalem is also what characterized Eliyahu David Kay, who was shot dead earlier this week by a Palestinian attacker in the Old City. He also dreamed of Jerusalem, he made Aliyah from South Africa alone, joined the IDF's elite combat unit, and after his discharge from the military became a tour guide at the Western Wall.
The difference between the murdered and the murderers is that they wanted Jerusalem to thrive in order for all of its residents to enjoy it, not just the Jews. We came here by virtue of our right to live, while they sanctify death.
I received a link to the Facebook account of Aboud Abu Shkhaydam, son of Fadi Abu Shkhaydam, who murdered Eliyahu Kay.
The difference between us and them is that as soon as the murder his father committed became public knowledge, instead of being ashamed or mourning, the son Aboud just replaced the profile picture with a photo of him and his father and announced how proud he was that his dad is now a martyr.
As a result, hundreds of people commented on the photo, congratulating him on the privilege of being the son of a jihadist.
However, the Jewish people's resilience and will to live fills me with hope. Despite the pain, the light will dispel the darkness and good will overpower evil.
It's incomprehensible that people the highest honor for whom is to commit murder of the innocent would overcome those who seek only to do good. It might be a long, exhausting road, but I'm sure there is a light at the end of it.