One of the most important commandments in the Bible is to remember. Most of the Biblical Feasts, including Passover and Succot, Purim, and even secular holidays like Thanksgiving, are meant to be occasions for remembering the past and reviewing the lessons that historical events teach us which we should be applying in our lives.
Remembrance Day in Israel is an occasion to commemorate the thousands of Israelis and others who have been killed in all the wars and terrorist attacks that have occurred in this country. Possibly the first person killed in the modern conflict between Jews and Arabs here in the land, was a member of a small crew leaving the Jaffa Gate, just a short distance from Christ Church, on their way to work on building the new Jewish neighborhood of Mishkenot Sha'ananim. However, it is unclear from the historical record whether the violence that resulted in this first casualty was motivated by nationalism or if it was an attempt at robbery that escalated into murder.
Regardless of whether that attack in 1860 marks the beginning of the Remembrance Day memorial roll-call, nearly every community in this land has lost sons and daughters to this conflict, and CMJ Israel is no exception. On Remembrance Day we pause to remember our own friends and colleagues who have fallen in this conflict and pray that their friends and families will be comforted on this somber occasion.
Freeda Hishmeh (1937) was a teacher at the Christ Church girls school and the wife of an Arab Christian who worked for CMJ in Jaffa. She was shot to death in November 1937 as she was riding the bus to Jerusalem.
Abraham Davidson (1941) was a Hebrew Christian who served as the verger at Christ Church in the late 1930s. He was shot on Jaffa Road in 1939 and died of his wounds in 1941.
Both of these early fatalities occurred during what was later called by historians the Arab Revolt against British control of the country which began in 1936 and was eventually stamped out by the British in 1939, just a few weeks before the outbreak of WWII in Europe. The revolt included many violent clashes between Arab combatants and British forces with many Arab, Jewish, and British civilians being caught in the crossfire. There was also a lot of criminal activity and violence which occurred during this time, as criminal elements took advantage of the distraction the Revolt caused for the security forces.
It was often difficult to know who had actually fired the shots that killed innocent bystanders during these clashes and there were also incidents where people were murdered during criminal acts and even personal feuds that took place amidst the chaotic situation in the country. But the Revolt was the root cause of all these incidents and so those who died violently during this period, including Freeda Hishmeh and Abraham Davidson, are considered victims of terrorism, whatever the specific circumstances that resulted in their deaths might have been.
Hilda Andersson, R.N. (1948) was a Swedish medical missionary who served in China from 1918-1927 on behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod in North America. She then moved to Jerusalem, bought land on the Mount of Olives, and opened Svenskbo, a Christian guest house. She ran a hospital and mission for the poor among the Arabs and also supported the Jews’ efforts to establish their own state. Tensions rose in 1948 as British rule in Palestine was being dismantled. Pressured and threatened, she tried to leave the country, but visa issues delayed her. On Sunday, April 25, on the way home from St. George Cathedral, she was shot to death in the Kidron Valley.
Mildred Marston (1948) worked for CMJ as a teacher at the Girl’s College. Mildred and a colleague were on their way to St. George Cathedral on Easter morning (March 28) when there was a sudden burst of gunfire. The companion threw herself on the ground and was unhurt. However, the sniper fire struck and killed Mildred (as reported by Hannah Hurnard, author of Hinds’ Feet on High Places).
Joan M. Thompson (1948) was the Acting Deputy Director of the British Department of Social Welfare. She attended Mildred Marston’s funeral on Easter Monday, according to Hannah Hurnard. Joan was scheduled to leave within days but was shot and killed by terrorists on Tuesday, March 30.
Barbara P. Burke (1991) from Sydney, Australia, worked for the Christian Friends of Israel ministry and attended services at Christchurch. She was killed by terrorists at the base of the Mount of Olives on May 23 while walking back to her apartment in the Armenian quarter of Jerusalem's Old City from a meal she and two companions had shared at the Seven Arches restaurant. The attackers ambushed the trio and demanded that they hand over their bags and possessions, but Barbara hesitated because her bag contained a donation she'd received for her organization earlier in the evening. Her attackers shot her at point-blank range, killing her instantly. They then fled with the money and valuables they'd taken from her companions and were never caught by police.
Kristine Luken (2010) was an American citizen who worked for CMJ UK. She was in Jerusalem visiting her friend Kay Wilson. On December 18, while on a hike in the Mata forest, near the town of Beit Shemesh, west of Jerusalem, the two women were approached by two Palestinian men who attacked, robbed, and stabbed them. Kay survived by pretending to be dead, but Kristine was killed. A police investigation led to the arrest of the attackers, who were later convicted of Luken's murder as well as the murder of another Israeli woman under similar circumstances months earlier.
Hannah Bladon (2017) was a British student studying at Hebrew University. On April 14, she was returning from an archaeological dig and on her way to the Good Friday service at Christ Church when she was stabbed to death on the light rail by a Palestinian man who had a history of mental illness. He later told police he attacked her because he was hoping the armed soldier she was standing next to would kill him. Her family in the UK issued a statement that she “was the most caring, sensitive, and compassionate daughter you could ever wish for.” As a final act of the kindness she was known for, she had given up her seat on the train to a woman carrying a baby and had stood next to the exit door of the train, unaware that this would make her a target for her murderer.
Along with the rest of this nation, on Remembrance Day here in Israel, we at CMJ mourn our friends and family who were victims of a conflict that has been ongoing for over 100 years. Please pray for the peace of this Land.
May the memory of these men and women continue to be a blessing!