Bnei Akiva Ambulance Dedication
20 July 2003 at MDA Blood Centre, Tel Hashomer
Time, they say, heals all wounds, dulls pain, makes everything better. Perhaps it does, sometimes. But often I am not so sure. The instant shock, the sudden pain, ease, of course. That I admit. But later, all of a sudden, the sense of profound loss, the awful sadness, the anger, the acceptance that a young life is no more, come pouring back again.
And always the scars remain. And so it is with Yoni Jesner, of blessed memory. His arbitrary, awful, death scarred us all. His family, first, foremost and forever. I am so pleased to see them all here today at this ceremony: his grandmother, Vivian, his parents, his brothers and sisters and cousins.
Yoni's pointless death scarred us all. All his friends in Bnei Akiva, of course, so many of whom are here today. But also the closely-knit worlds of Anglo-Scottish Jewry, both here, and in Israel.
Nor will Bridget and I ever forget the awful hours and days following his death. The phone call from the Embassy Duty Officer, saying that a boy from Scotland had been hurt in the terrorist attack on the Tel Aviv bus. Those hours in the hospital, with the family facing up to fateful decisions on Yoni's life. None of us will ever forget those moments. Their scars are with us forever.
What we say here, what we do here, today, will soon be forgotten. But Yoni will not. His unsought, unplanned, legacy will live for generations to come. Especially, but not only, through this ambulance. This symbol of salvation and rescue and rehabilitation. In this ambulance, through this ambulance, we salute Yoni's memory. And we turn the uncompromising evil, the utter pointlessness, of his murder to a wider and higher purpose. I salute you all for what you have done to bring this about.
Perhaps I could end on a more personal note. This will be my last formal public speech in Israel. And the emotion I feel, perhaps unusually for an occasion like this, is pride. Pride in having represented my country in Israel over these past two, most difficult of, years. Pride in having represented Anglo-Jewry here. Proud of what you do for Israel and for peace. Proud of the fact that 140 young people from Bnei Akiva are here supporting Israel at this time. And proud too of Mada, for everything you do to save life, working in the United Kingdom and here in Israel.
And, finally, I am glad that there are at last some shafts of light through the dark clouds of terror.
For, in the end, that is what this ceremony is about: ensuring that good triumphs over evil, hope over fear, and a better future over a sad past.