With the construction at Ground Zero delayed for years by litigation, bureaucracy and the like, and only recently proceeding apace, the world’s only existing memorial to the Arab-Muslim terror of September 11, 2001 rests in Israel. What sounds strange at first is actually quite comprehensible. Americans generally perceive Israelis as a plucky, determined people who have retained their values while successfully confronting a ruthless, barbaric enemy, and Israelis see Americans as a nation that has risked its blood and treasure to spread freedom around the globe, usually with little enduring gratitude.
And, of course, it became painfully clear on 9/11 that Americans and Israelis share the same enemies.
I visited Israel’s memorial to the Arab-Muslim terror of 9/11 several weeks ago. Called “Andardat Ha’te’omim” (Memorial to the Towers), it is located in a valley just outside Jerusalem, visible from the Har Hamenuchot cemetery across the road, and still almost unreachable. It requires traveling on several dirt roads, up hills and down vales, always on the lookout for microscopic signs pointing to the location. But it is there – and worth a quick visit – for what it is, and what it is not. Both are critical to the reckoning that lies ahead.
The memorial is set in a circle, the circumference of which is marked by plaques on which are inscribed the names of each of the approximately 3000 murdered victims of that horrific massacre. And right in the center is a metal statue that rises in a spiral to unfurl a metal American flag, resting on a glass base that contains a metal remnant of the Twin Towers that was specially sent to Israel by the City of New York. It does, indeed, as the text indicates, reflect the special relationship between New Yorkers and Americans, and the people of Israel.
Unfortunately, but by now quite typically, the captions speak volumes by what was not said. The metal remnant was taken “from the remains of the Twin Towers that imploded in the September 11, 2001, disaster..” Is that what happened ? The Towers “imploded” ? How ? Why ? Faulty construction ? Planned obsolescence ? Incredibly, the text – there and elsewhere – is silent as to the causes of this “disaster.”
“Disaster” ? “Tragedy”? The tsunami was a disaster, and the death of a young person by illness is a tragedy. The Arab terror of 9/11 was a crime – a brutal, barbaric, heinous, evil, vicious, and hideous attack on innocent civilians. The dedication plaque – the memorial was privately funded – does proclaim “Tolerance Not Terrorism,” and commemorates “the victims of 9/11 and demonstrating a commitment to hope and peace.” But even the term “victims” is neutral, and does not at all convey the malice of the victimizers.
One looks in vain for any reference to Muslims, Arabs, bin Laden, al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia, Islam or even hijacked planes being flown into these Twin Towers. A visitor from another planet would not be able to discern why or how these victims died, and at whose hand – if indeed there was a hand involved. Truth be told, there comes a time – long ago reached – when such obfuscations are themselves immoral, and desecrate – rather than honor or memorialize – the lives of the murdered.
It is not only that obscuring the names, backgrounds and ideology of the murderers nurtures the vile opinions of many – especially in Muslim lands – that the Arab/Muslim terror of 9/11 was actually perpetrated by others, perhaps even Jews. It is worse than that; it diminishes the very idea that there was a ghastly crime here, and not simply an engineering malfunction. And it disguises the notion that Islam – or at least a large segment of Islam’s practitioners – are at war with Jews, Americans and the West, and will stop at nothing in order to win that war.
The political correctness run amok that refrains from identifying the enemy who infiltrated this land, exploited its freedoms, and violated its serenity threatens to undermine the very nature of the world war in which we are engaged. One who is afraid to even name the enemy cannot defeat that enemy, and the liberal mindset that wishes for (and often presumes) the good intentions of even the malevolent is incapable of waging that war successfully. One who is so enamored with demonstrating a “commitment to hope and peace” in the face of an enemy that is uninterested in either hope or peace will forfeit any possibility of hope or peace, or freedom and life.
That this attitude pervades the American liberal is no surprise. It undergirds the enthusiastic support for the construction of the mosque near Ground Zero by a Muslim leader who does not construe Hamas as a terrorist group. Nor should it surprise Israelis, whose left has also seized every opportunity to shroud even Arab terror in Israel – the same trite phrases (“tragedy”) were inscribed on the memorial to the Sbarro Pizzeria terror victims – again, without any reference to the perpetrators.
It is not that such memorials would be made more meaningful if they contained curses and imprecations of the murderers; it is rather that the ambiguous language defeats the very purpose of constructing a memorial. It is honest and forthright to identify the murderers of the Jews in the Holocaust as Nazis or Germans; they weren’t victims of random, unnamed, perhaps even natural forces, but of people, evil people. So, too, the people murdered on September 11, 2001, were killed by people, evil people, who were all Muslim-Arabs, and who killed in the name of Islam.
If that point cannot be mentioned ever, even at this week’s commemorations of the Arab terror of 9/11, it is questionable whether these commemorations have any meaning whatsoever.
The idea of a 9/11 memorial in Israel speaks well of the originators and implementers, and does reflect the shared battle that Israelis and Americans are waging. Perhaps an amplification of the text at the memorial in Israel can still be done, if the will is there and the fear is absent. Then, it – and similar memorials – will serve their most valuable purpose in strengthening the resolve of those who are engaged in this war for the defense of civilization as we know it.