Terrorists Kill More than We Know

By | October 5, 2017 | 0 Comments

President John F. Kennedy’s granddaughter Tatiana Schlossberg, a former New York Times reporter, recently married George Moran, a senior medical student. Comments on this happy event reflected the glamour of the Kennedy name. But no one noted the fact that but for a stroke of luck, the bride would never have existed ‒ because her mother, Caroline Kennedy, would have been murdered before she had children.

Let me tell you two stories.

Dr. Gordon Hamilton Fairley was a leading cancer specialist in Britain. He was a pioneer in the therapy of childhood leukemia. On the morning of Oct. 23, 1975, he was walking his dog in London before going to the hospital. He happened to pass by the home of Sir Hugh Fraser, a politician who had angered the IRA. At that moment a car bomb went off, killing Dr. Fairley and his dog. Fairley was honored by being buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral. He was 45. The terrorists were caught and given life sentences, but they were subsequently released. So much for British justice.

Fraser, the intended victim, was unhurt. He was delayed by a phone call and was late leaving his house. He had a house guest, whom he was going to drive to art class. Her life was also saved by the fortuitous phone call. She was Caroline Kennedy. Ironically, only luck saved the IRA from murdering the daughter of the only Irish Catholic president of the United States.

Dr. David Applebaum was a leader in emergency medicine in Israel. He lectured in the United States and developed more efficient methods of organizing the care of mass casualties. He had just returned from speaking at New York University at a symposium commemorating 9/11. On the evening of Sept. 9, 2003, he happened to take his daughter, who was about to be married, to Café Hillel in Jerusalem for a late snack. At that moment an extremist Muslim terrorist blew up himself and six others, including Applebaum and his daughter. Colleagues knew something was wrong when Applebaum, usually one of the first to report to the hospital after bombings, did not arrive. He was 51, his daughter 20. Instead of a wedding, relatives and friends attended a double funeral.

Israeli hospitals, including the one where Dr. Applebaum worked, serve Muslims and Jews alike. Bombs and other sources of trauma injure Muslims and Jews alike. Ironically, the extremists who murdered Dr. Applebaum eliminated an outstanding source of emergency care for their own co-religionists. Extremists often hurt their own people and their own cause. But being extreme, extremists don’t care.

Getting through medical school, internship, and residency requires ability, hard work, and dedication. Working in a particularly difficult field of medicine requires more of the same. Teaching young people how to be competent, caring doctors requires special skills. But making original contributions to medicine requires even rarer gifts. Those who can do so are to medicine what Olympic medalists are to sports – the best of the best.

Dr. Fairley was 45, Dr. Applebaum 51. They had already made noteworthy contributions to health care. Who can say how much more they would have contributed to human well-being had they been allowed to live out their normal life spans? All human life is precious. But to me, those who make significant contributions to the alleviation of human suffering are especially precious. Certainly, they are rare. Like the northern spotted owl and Stephens’ kangaroo rat, they deserve our protection.

The terrorists who murdered Dr. Fairley and Dr. Applebaum killed not only them, but also the children they might have had, and their children, as well as all the patients they might have saved, and their children, and so on. And if the fortuitous phone call had not delayed the British politician, he and his house guest would have been murdered. And then Caroline Kennedy would not have lived to have children, so Tatiana Schlossberg would not be marrying George Moran.

Perhaps Dr. Applebaum is talking things over with Dr. Fairley in the next world. They have a lot in common. But we must deal with the problems of this world. We must make sure that those who commit premeditated murder are executed or kept in prison, so as to announce to the world that murder will not be tolerated. We must do our best to defeat terrorists and root out their support structure, so as to announce to the world that terrorism will not be tolerated.

We must work harder to make the world safe for the benefactors of humanity to walk their dogs in the morning, or take their daughters out for a snack in the evening – or perhaps even go to a country music concert. If we do that, those of us who are less gifted will be a lot safer as well. That would indeed be an appropriate way to remember the victims of terrorism.

Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.


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