9/11 service pays tribute to close ties between Israel, US

Netanyahu says Islamic extremism, along with Iran, is threat to stability in Middle East; Livni: Attackers sent message to entire world.

By MELANIE LIDMAN,
September 11, 2011 23:55
4 minute read.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after Eilat attack 311. (photo credit: GPO / Avi Ohayon)

 
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US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told more than 100 people gathered to remember the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on Sunday afternoon that “no one can understand our pain as Israel can,” and praised Israel for showing Americans how to deal with the threat of daily terror.

“As we watched smoke rise higher, our sense of security was punctured as the planes struck the towers, and we’ll never be able to go back to the way things were,” said Shapiro to the gathering, which included politicians, families of some of the five Israeli victims, American volunteers and representatives from Israel’s fire and police departments.

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“Israelis shared our mourning and Israelis understood on a deeper level. Citizens who have mourned too many losses know how easy it is for terrorism to overturn the way of life... But we must go on living our lives and Israelis have shown us how to live and survive,” he said.

The official memorial took place at the 9/11 Living Memorial, which is tucked away in the Jerusalem Forest. The memorial affords a panoramic view of the Jerusalem hills, though some complain of the difficulty in reaching the memorial along narrow, winding forest roads twenty minutes outside the city.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu marked the anniversary by attending a photo exhibit of 9/11, and also stressed the ongoing threat of radical Islamic terrorism at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. Islamic terrorists “seek to make an historic change, an historic regression, through the use of violence that knows no borders,” he said.

The Israeli monument to the 9/11 terror attacks is the largest memorial outside of the US, and is designed as a billowing flag that turns into an eternal flame, etched with the names of the victims, including five Israelis who were killed, Alona Avraham, Daniel Mark Lewin, Hagai Shefi, Leon Lebor, and Shai Levinhar. The monument was dedicated two years ago and was designed by Israeli artist Eliezer Weishoff.



Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon pledged Israel would support America “as you defend the core values of our civilization and pursue, in righteous anger, those who would destroy our lives and our societies.” He also praised American officials for their help in resolving the crisis with the six security guards trapped in the Cairo embassy building while an angry mob swarmed outside over the weekend.

The memorial event was organized by the Jewish National Fund and the Jerusalem Municipality. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat recalled how he was across the river from midtown Manhattan at a meeting while the terror unfolded on a cloudless day ten years ago.

“I saw the shock of the people around me as we watched people dancing for joy in Gaza, and I knew this was the day that Islamic terrorism was no longer exclusively an Israeli problem,” he said. He also praised Jerusalem native Daniel Mark Lewin, a top businessman based in Massachusetts who served in the elite Sayeret Matkal unit and was on Flight 11. Lewin was killed before the plane hit the North Tower, most likely trying to stop the terrorists from hijacking the plane, and could be considered the first victim of 9/11, said Barkat.

“The pain doesn’t leave,” Bessie Lebor, mother of Leon Lebor, told The Jerusalem Post after the ceremony. “I’m thankful he was found and brought here to be buried in Israel, so that we have somewhere to go,” she said. Lebor, who clutched a photo of her son during the ceremony, added that the toughest part of healing from the loss was the day-to-day process of learning to live without her son.

President Shimon Peres also sent a message to US President Barack Obama expressing the solidarity of the people of Israel with the American people.

September 11 also served as a milestone in the collective war against terrorism headed by the United States, “with the aim of building a better and safer world for our children and grandchildren.”

Peres recalled that in the aftermath of September 11, America waged an uncompromising war on terror, culminating in the death of Osama bin Laden “and freeing the world of this scourge that threatened humanity, without losing sight of the freedom and the rights of Man.”

He lauded America as a nation that has strived to promote the well-being of humanity without seeking to dominate others.

“We are proud to be close friends and allies with the USA,” he wrote. “The people of Israel have shared in the joys of your nation and cried with you a decade ago on the day America was attacked. And today, we again bow our heads as America mourns its loss.”

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