She is watching her children. I am watching her. She has the same light coloring as me, each of us with the fair skin and blue eyes that clearly reveal us as not having been born here in Israel. Her clothes are modern, but modest. She wears a white tunic dress that falls to her knees, with straight black pants underneath. A scarf is draped fashionably around her head, covering her neck and shoulders. She speaks English like an American when she turns to speak to her darker skinned husband. She speaks Arabic fluently, at least to my untrained ears, when she turns to speak with her rambunctious children.

Despite the distance of a few feet between us, we are worlds apartWe are sitting in the garden of the children's wing at the Israel Museum where we have both come with our families for a day out. Yet despite the distance of a few feet between us, we are worlds apart as we sit in the garden. The museum is under construction. A few meters away, ominous even at rest, sits a parked bulldozer. It casts an enormous shadow over the playground. While the kid's play, innocent in their oblivion, my eyes are drawn to it repeatedly. I look at the mother, the bulldozer. The mother. The bulldozer.

I wonder, does she feel it too, the ominous presence that crouches in the next courtyard like a sleeping monster, threatening at any moment to arise from its lair, with an insatiable hunger to consume an innocent child? I long to speak with her, as one mother to another. In my mind, I watch myself rise, and cross the distance between us with a few strides. "Hello," I greet her, as I pop down in the seat opposite her, a seat that one of her children just vacated, as he ran off to the sandbox. "I overheard you speaking English. Are you an American?" I would begin gently, emphasizing our similarity, perhaps asking next the ages of her children.

The museum is hosting an arts and crafts day, and her daughter, the same age as mine, is eagerly awaiting the beginning of the kite-making seminar. Perhaps we would talk about that for a few minutes as well. Then, inevitably, the conversation would turn to politics, to the trauma of recent events. Would she share my horror, I wonder? Or would she turn cold, like a sudden frost, and tell me that it is natural for those so oppressed to turn to acts of desperate bravery?

How would I respond? Would I retreat? Would I argue that no good could come from the random and senseless deaths of mothers and children, women like us? Would she then insist that we are not alike after all, that despite our coloring and birthplace, our similarities are superficial, our differences internal and significant?

I can't do it. I cannot begin this conversation, not here, not now, on my family's day out. I can't risk exposing my children to this horror. I am here as a mother and I must play my part, smiling at them in the sandbox, while a few feet away, the other mother's children play, building sandcastles side by side that will all disappear before the day is over.

The children, all of whom have been born and brought up here, take no notice of anyone else playing nearby. They learn this in school, how to not notice, to not pay attention when a stranger approaches.

That was years ago, when the Twin Towers still stoodYet I was brought up differently. As a child growing up in New York City, I learned that all differences could be bridged by earnest and sincere communication. But that was years ago, when the Twin Towers still stood, and nobody could have imagined that an airplane would one day be used as a bomb to bring them down. That was before every construction site became a potential source of destruction and grief.

That was before I became a mother, and my children's safety became more dear to me than any other value, including tolerance. For today, the time is not ripe to begin this dialogue, because the children must be taken home soon to have dinner and their baths. For today, I just watch her.

If only she would only look up, our eyes would meet, and we could exchange a smile at least, the smile of mother's who are content and slightly bored, watching their children play. Yet she appears not to notice that I am watching her. She rises and takes her daughter's hand and they leave to make kites, while those who exit rush into the courtyard where I sit, impatient to watch their kites take flight in the wind.