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Posts Tagged ‘SEptember the 11th’

Remembering and Forgetting on 9/11

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Eleven years after the tragedy, 9/11 events are happening across the United States today and in other places where the memories of that most dramatic of turning-points still resonate.

In Washington this afternoon, the president of the United States promised Americans in a speech from the Pentagon (“Obama says victims will never be forgotten as 9/11 remembrances begin“( that the September 11 victims would be remembered “no matter how many years pass“. The whole country shares their loss, he said.

This is never an easy day, but it is especially difficult for all of you, the families of nearly 3,000 innocents who lost their lives… But no matter how many years pass, no matter how many times we come together on this hallowed ground, know this: That you will never be alone, your loved ones will never be forgotten. They will endure in the hearts of our nation…

The breadth of his solemn undertaking lost some of its majesty, in our view, when Obama  added that

I’ve always said our fight is with al Qaeda and its affiliates, not with Islam or any other religion… This country was built as a beacon of freedom and tolerance.

The problem with that is that no one serious or sane is claiming America is, or ought to be, at war with Islam, whatever such a statement might mean.

But to assert that the threat comes from this amorphous thing called al Qaeda, and then to silence suggestions to the contrary with a reminder of America’s devotion to freedom, is to miss the point. Terrorism is a vast, growing threat today. It’s more than a threat; it steals the innocent lives of ordinary people’s children literally every day of the year. Plainly, the terrorists are not all Moslems. And Islam does not equate to terrorism. But to ignore the ties between myriads of exponents of Islam and of Islamism on one hand, and the proliferating network of lethal and hideously well-armed terrorist groups on every continent on the other hand, is simply foolish. Or dishonest.

Still, it’s good to hear one of the world’s most influential voices speaking about the enduring nature of a nation’s memory of its terror victims.

Here in Israel, we (the bloggers behind This Ongoing War) waged a campaign for years to require the city fathers in the most important, the most central, Jewish city in the world to remember Jerusalem’s victims of terror. Here is a shortened version of an essay Frimet published seven years ago. We hope you agree that it still makes some strikingly relevant points in 2012.

Keeping Murdered Israeli Children in Our Hearts Frimet Roth  FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, May 12, 2005

Not since the Holocaust have so many innocent Jewish children been murdered as in the last four and a half years. Not a handful or a few dozen, but hundreds of precious children, targeted by an enemy who saw in their murders nothing but an effective political tactic.

Once a year on Israel’s official Day of Remembrance, the Jewish people accord these children a moment or two of attention. At other times, it seems to me, little thought is given to them and to their deaths. The parents and siblings they left behind—left to grapple for eternity with the daily, grinding pain of loss—get even less.

Some would argue that this is natural and normal. Would I prefer for everyone to pause once every day to remember them? Perhaps that would be asking too much. But there are reasons to think more often of those children, holding no rocks in their hands, having no explosives strapped to their waists, harboring only kindness in their hearts.

This is a particularly appropriate time to do so with Palestinian and Western pressure mounting daily for Israel to release even more Palestinian prisoners.The advocates of prisoner releases like to equate the situation here with South Africa and Ireland. They too “had blown each other up for years” as we have, was the way Amit Leshem, of Jerusalem’s Van Leer Institute, put it. Once released those terrorists embarked on peaceful, productive paths, he wrote recently.

Then there are the expectations of the Palestinian people who demand that Abu Mazen deliver the goods—meaning that every last prisoner goes free, or else. Israel, it is maintained, must bolster Abu Mazen’s regime with a full release or else face the overthrow of Abu Mazen and an end to the current calm.

Towers of Twilight: Reflections on the Attacks of September 11th

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

In the first few years it seemed as if they were still there, stark lines rising into the sky, tall shadows falling on the streets, a missing space that your eyes filled in without even thinking. You walked past, and your eyes said, “Of course they’re there. They’re always there” and for a moment you saw them as they were, grey ghosts of steel rising above the rubble. You saw the city as it was and then you remembered that city is gone.

Manhattan, that far down, is a lonely place. It is not a human place, but a huddle of buildings where men and women commute to and from, its stores are there for office workers to shop at, its sidewalks go dark when the trains head out to New Jersey again turning it dangerously low rent. That is what made the pretense of a Ground Zero Mosque, in a neighborhood where you can hardly find enough Muslim residents to start a game of Buzkashi, so nakedly dishonest.

But the site has always attracted its share of exploiters. On a good day you can see South American and African vendors peddling commemorative patriotic knickknacks and on a bad day the Truthers show up howling their contempt for the site. Tourists stop by and pose for snapshots with their families. Office workers walk by without thinking. The site, like the towers, is just something that’s there. And lately even the vendors and Truthers hardly bother showing up anymore. Like so many others, they have already moved on to exploiting the next tragedy and the next outpouring of grief.

The neighborhood had grown less grim over time. The 99-cent stores and shops selling used clothing have given way to cafes and chain stores. The months during which the entire area was closed down, in part or in whole, took its toll on local businesses, but over time they bounced back. And so has the city.

Tonight and the night before as the towers of light cast blue beams across the sky, we remember but memory is a destructive medium. Each year the memories grow fainter. At lunch counters people ask each other where they were that day and exchange stories. But the stories grow fainter each year and the memories of walking across the Brooklyn Bridge or stumbling through the ash or handing out sandwiches to rescue workers have grown dimmer too.

This was the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. How many people are still moved by that date, how many less so than were in 1822 or 1862? The anniversaries that we hold on to are the ones that mean something to us. And what does September 11 mean to us? What did it mean to us eleven years ago and what does it mean to us now?

The fundamental narrative of war is, “We were attacked and we fought back.” It’s the same story for everyone regardless of how true it may be. But it is mostly true in this case. We were attacked and we tried to fight back. But we weren’t attacked on September 11. We were attacked long before then. That was just the date when one of the attacks got out undivided attention and the enemy elevated itself above a petty nuisance.

To walk through the darkness toward the towers of light is to pass through a city of shadows. In a stray glimmer of light reflecting from a storefront or a puddle you can still see the old MISSING posters and see khaki trucks tearing apart the street asphalt. You can still see glimpses of a city that was still reeling from the incomprehensibility of what had happened to it. It isn’t reeling anymore, instead the incomprehensibility has become routine.

New York City is used to tragedy. Terrible things happen here all the time. The oldest photos of the city show the same stunned faces, the legs lying in a puddle of blood, the gawking children and the police frowning at something we cannot see. And relentlessly the blood is washed away, the tears are dried and the city moves on. September 11 left behind more blood, more broken legs and more frowning police than ever before… but the ashes have still been dumped in a landfill, the tears dried and the city moved on.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/towers-of-twilight-reflections-on-the-attacks-of-september-11th/2012/09/11/

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