British-born Kay Wilson is many things: an Israeli tour guide, a cartoonist, a jazz musician and a human rights speaker specializing in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She is also the survivor of a terrorist attack, which occurred on Dec. 18, 2011.

During an event on Tuesday hosted by Students for Accuracy about Israeli and Palestinian Affairs, Wilson described her attack, explaining how a simple hike on a trail in Israel ended with a near-death experience. Throughout the event, Wilson urged the audience to seek unity between Israel and Palestine and to fight for human rights worldwide.

SAIPA aims to educate students about the plight of both Israelis and Palestinians.

“No meaningful discussion, about any topic, can occur without accurate facts and appropriate context. This is especially true for issues as complex as the kind that pervade the Middle East,” SAIPA states on its Facebook page. The page also notes that Wilson’s speech was relevant to the club’s mission due to both her inspirational story and “unique perspectives on the issues of the Middle East.”

As Wilson recounted for the audience, during the attack, two Palestinian terrorists stabbed Wilson and her friend Kristine Luken multiple times, fatally wounding Luken and severely incapacitating Wilson. After suffering stab wounds across her body, Wilson pretended to be dead, hoping the men would leave.

“I remembered through TV that when you die, you’re supposed to have your eyes open,” Wilson said, acknowledging that she managed to keep her eyes open and body immobile despite multiple subsequent stabbings.

Eventually the men did leave, only to return a few moments later to stab Luken several times more. At this point, one of the men flipped Wilson over, stabbing her in the sternum “centimeters away” from her heart, Wilson said.

Wilson continued to play dead despite bleeding heavily and listening to Luken slowly bleed out only a few feet away. When the men left once more, Wilson said that she managed to stand up and limp toward help.

“I was no longer afraid to die, but I was terrified of giving up. I wanted the police to find my body so that the sons of evil would be caught. I wanted to choose my own grave, I wanted that last autonomy,” Wilson wrote in a blog post published on the official website of The Tower and The Tower Magazine, titled “The Terror Within: A Survivor’s Tale.”

Wilson somehow walked over a mile to the lot where she had parked, where several families on-scene called an ambulance. At the hospital, several doctors—one of whom was Muslim, Wilson noted—performed extensive surgery to repair the damage from the stab wounds. After surviving the surgery, Wilson still had to spend two weeks in the hospital in recovery.

“I sustained thirteen machete wounds in my lungs and diaphragm, six compound fractures in my ribs, thirty additional fractures, a dislocated shoulder, a crushed sternum and a broken shoulder blade,” Wilson wrote in the same blog post. “[The terrorist’s] blows smashed my bones, slashed my flesh, decimated my soul and shredded the person that I once was.”

When asked during the question-and-answer session whether or not she had ever sought to confront her attackers, Wilson replied that she did face the two men at their trial and was frustrated by their apparent “smugness.” Wilson said she wanted to physically confront them herself but knew she could not, so she hoped to incite them enough for a guard to “smack them around a little.”

“They giggled at some points,” Wilson said. “I made eye contact with them. I blew them kisses. I wanted them to react.”

Yet despite the trauma she has had to overcome, Wilson said at the event that she does not hate the men who attacked her—nor does she forgive them—but rather believes what happens to them next is up to the Israeli justice system.

“I choose not to hate,” Wilson said. “I choose life.”

The attack also inspired Wilson to share her story with others, so as to promote coexistence—not only between Israelis and Palestinians but among groups worldwide—and to reach out to victims of terrorism.

“I have learned that life is neither fair nor kind. And I have learned that to listen to the inner voice of futile comparative victimhood only fans the flames of injustice and saps me of my life,” Wilson wrote in her blog. “I refuse to be consumed by hate and define myself by evil. Instead I choose to be thankful for what I have. … It’s a long, lonely, terrifying, yet exhilarating walk, out of the forest of hate.”

Wilson's national speaking tour is sponsored by StandWithUs, an organization that works to spread Israel’s side of the story in communities nationwide. Her appearance at Brandeis was cosponsored by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, a non-profit devoted to equally representing both the Israeli and Palestinian points of view in the United States, and the Zionist Organization of America. 

Editor's Note: Although StandWithUs was initially listed as cosponsoring the event, the organization is actually a sponsor of Kay Wilson's tour. The Zionist Organization of America was not listed as a cosponsor of the event at Brandeis initially.