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Documenting terror

Tenafly woman photographs aftermath of Tel Aviv New Year shooting

Right after the shooting, the ground is covered in shattered glass. (Photos by Susan Seed)
Right after the shooting, the ground is covered in shattered glass. (Photos by Susan Seed)

Susan Seed of Tenafly and her 18-year-old twins, Nesya and Cam Schroeder, were in Israel on a long-planned trip; it had been 30 years since Ms. Seed had been there, and it was Cam’s first trip.

“We arrived on December 28, spent four days in Jerusalem, and then, on the morning of Friday, January 1, we took a bus to Tel Aviv,” Ms. Seed said. “We checked into our hotel, on the corner of Dizengoff and Gordon, and then we got sushi, and then we took a bus to Jaffa. We spent a couple of hours there.

On Saturday night, candles glowed. Above them, posters remind passersby of the victims’ names.
On Saturday night, candles glowed. Above them, posters remind passersby of the victims’ names.

“We took a taxi back, told the driver where we wanted to go. He said ‘The corner of Dizengoff and Gordon? What are you talking about?’ I said ‘What do you mean? That’s where our hotel is!’ He said ‘There was a shooting there.’ I must have said ‘WHAT?’ five times.’

“He put the radio on, and I understand enough Hebrew to be able to understand it. He took us to the parallel street, Ben Yehuda, and we walked down, and that’s when I started to take pictures.”

A man, later found to be Nashaat Melhem, later shot by the police as he opened fire on them, shot and killed three Israelis. It was an unprecedented attack in a city widely thought to be safe; it remains unclear if Melhem was a terrorist, deranged, or both.

“We had been at Jaffa Gate in the Old City in Jerusalem — we knew that there had been a stabbing there the week before, but we felt completely safe. We saw a couple of police officers, and there probably were others we didn’t see, and some military, but everyone was so happy. So relaxed. So when we went to Tel Aviv, we said okay, Jerusalem is totally chill, so we will go shopping and sit at a café and be cosmopolitan.

Two bullet holes break the glass on the bus stop.
Two bullet holes break the glass on the bus stop.

“What happened didn’t make us afraid,” she added. In fact, no one seemed to be afraid.

“I thought about the Boston Marathon bombing, about when the two terrorists were running around and they closed down Boston. In Tel Aviv, people were walking around. People were shocked but they kept going.

“On Saturday, the memorials grew. You could walk right past it. There was a police presence — no one knew where the killer was — but no one was stopping anyone from going anywhere, except for Saturday night, when Netanyahu came. People were not so happy — they said that he should come to Tel Aviv to eat, not to stop traffic and keep people from living their lives.”

Ms. Seed is not a professional photographer — she is the coordinator of student advisement for the College of Engineering and Computer Science on Fairleigh Dickinson’s Teaneck campus — but she had her phone, “and I want to document it,” she said.

These photographs are what Susan Seed saw.

Read more about Tel Aviv’s reaction on page 19.

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