“One of the first questions my children asked me was, ‘Mom, do you hate us?’" she said. "'No I don’t hate you,' but then they asked ‘do you hate the Arabs?’ I said 'no,' it didn’t even cross my mind to hate them.”
“I don’t even hate the man who stabbed me, I pity him,” she added.
Veldman, who was moderately wounded in the attack and released from the hospital on Sunday, has a life story which is not typical for Israel.
She was born and raised in Holland as a Christian before coming to volunteer in Israel 37 years ago. Thirty-two years ago, she opened a foster home for Arab children in Jerusalem. “I had both Muslim and Christian children, it was never a problem,” she said.
Over the years she raised 20 children. One of them from the time he was three weeks old, and until he reached the age of 22. Majda Shakawi, one of her adopted daughters, came all the way from the US to be at her bedside during her recovery.
The attack in East Talpiot, which claimed the lives of Haviv Haim and Alon Goberberg, was executed by Baha Aliyan and Bilal Ranem from Jabel Mukaber in East Jerusalem.
Veldman remembers the attack. “I entered the bus 78 in Armon Hanetziv (and) I saw two Arab men sitting in the very beginning of the bus, I thought to myself 'what were they doing on a bus at this hour, they should be at work,' they looked suspicious,” she said.
“They were laughing, exchanging maybe a joke or something, and then all of sudden they got up and started screaming 'Allahu Akbar,' and then one of them started stabbing me and he stabbed me several times, I yelled ‘Jesus help me,’” she recounted.
“I went close to the door, it was shot completely, and then it opened all of a sudden, with a lot of force, so I could go out. I got up and left the bus and started walking. I started walking up the hill there and I was bleeding terribly and I was alone,” Veldman said.
She remembers the moment she could finally breathe. “Somebody came from the right side, in a car, with a kippah, and I knew he was Jewish. I explained the situation to him and he took me in his car, (when) I was in his car I felt safe.”
Veldman arrived at Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem in moderate condition, and was taken into surgery. She is eagerly awaiting to meet the man who picked her up.
"He and God saved me. He is my guardian angel and I want to thank him,” she said.
You say you pity the attacker?
“I understand the frustration. There are a lot of injustices in this country. I saw my children suffering from prejudice. Half of them are Israeli and they never got equal rights. I saw people suffering, but the way they reacted, like what they did to me – it’s evil, its plain evil what they did.”
When you see an Arab, what do you think?
“Right now I’m afraid of them. I have a lot of Arab friends, but it will take me some time to trust them, and I need to heal.”
When you are released, where will you go?
“I will go home. I am not leaving Israel. The terror must not control my life.”
Majda Shakawi, 28, who grew up in Veldman‘s foster home and currently lives in Virginia, said, “When it happened, I was in shock. There is a lot of anger, shame, and guilt. I am thankful that she is alive and I am trying to accept the forgiveness that she feels. I believe that everyone was born in the image of God. That’s what my faith taught me. It’s a shame to my religion when someone goes and does something like this. It’s cowardly. I thought that even before this happened to my mom, but now it’s personal.”