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Thursday, September 11, 2014

When - for a brief moment - the Americans got it

Finally, I'd like to re-post something I wrote three years ago.
One of the immediate reactions to 9/11 here in Israel - crass though it might have been - was "now the Americans will finally understand what we've been going through." In the year leading up to 9/11, Israel had suffered dozens of terror attacks. Parents looked to avoid putting their children on public buses (in fact, we have raised a generation where many of the kids no longer know how to use the buses before they are in high school). And yet, we were pushed by Clinton and by Tenet and even by Bush for the first few months, to make more concessions to the 'Palestinians' every time they murdered a few Jews.

For me, one of the most memorable pieces to come out of 9/11 was this one by Deborah Sontag. Sontag was the New York Times' bureau chief here from 1998-2001, and was a constant nemesis. She returned to New York shortly before 9/11. Here's some of what she wrote in the Sunday Times Magazine ten days after the attack.
That terrible Tuesday was the first day of American school for Emma, who was entering third grade, and Adam, who was starting kindergarten. It was a glorious morning as they skipped through downtown Brooklyn. They wore new sneakers (Stride Rite won out) and backpacks that were essentially empty but nonetheless an essential part of the American school uniform. I left Emma designing a name tag to hang above her cubby. In Adam's class, where he was seated at a table designated ''Femur'' in anticipation of a unit on the human body, I patted his blond head and inadvertently said aloud what I was thinking, ''You'll be safe here.''

Then a parent barged into the room and told a few of us that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. We walked, because there really was no other choice, straight to the Brooklyn promenade on the East River overlooking Lower Manhattan. The second airplane had just crashed into the twin towers, and flames were devouring the tops of the buildings. It was a perfect view of the horror, and there was nothing we could do but stare.

This was terrorism of a different magnitude. In Israel, such attacks were chillingly intimate. Within hours, everyone in the country knew who had been killed and knew someone connected to the victims. Bombings were also anticipated and routine. With grim efficiency, daily life was restored to the bombed area. But this was so vast that it could not be personalized or swept up. We were struck by the fact that no victims were named on the news that first day. We were breathing the acrid, dusty air that wafted across the river. The attack was palpable. Yet, it was beyond our grasp.

Adam was clueless when we picked him up at the kindergarten annex. In the school's main high-rise building, Emma's class waited in the overheated basement where the elementary students had been herded to stop them from watching the whole thing from their classroom windows. We pushed through the thronged halls to get outside. Passersby were wearing paper masks. ''Aliens!'' Adam said. A woman snapped at us, ''Cover your children's mouths!'' Emma burst into tears. ''My first day of school wasn't fun at all,'' she said. ''You promised. You promised it would be better here.''

In Israel, we could keep our children, who were foreigners, in a relatively secure cocoon, although that meant greatly limiting their universe. We could even isolate them from much of the news. But here, waiting for our apartment to be ready, we were staying in a hotel that was designated an emergency relief center. People were streaming over the Brooklyn Bridge covered in ash and seeking first aid in the Brooklyn Marriott. Security was tight. School for the next day was canceled. A father of one of Emma's classmates was missing. We had to start explaining. At first, I used a silly, gingerly phrase, telling Adam that a plane had ''bumped into'' the twin towers. ''By accident?'' he asked. There was no avoiding the ugly truth.

We turned on the television news. ''It looks like Israel,'' Adam said. He asked if we were going to start seeing soldiers in Brooklyn. I told him no, but then we descended to the lobby and happened on several National Guardsmen in their camouflage uniforms and army boots. We stepped outside. Sirens wailed. We were home?
Although ordinary Americans began to appreciate our plight on 9/11, except for the period between June 2002 (when Bush called for a new 'Palestinian' leadership) and Arafat's death just after the 2004 election, American leadership has largely not recognized that we and you are fighting the same battle. The first indications that would be the case came within a few days of 9/11, and the point was driven home strongly by President Bush's reaction to then-Prime Minister Sharon's Czechoslovakia speech on October 4, 2001.

The discovery of the Karine A weapons ship in January 2002 started to turn the tide with Bush in our favor, and we enjoyed two brief romances with him that have colored perceptions of his Presidency here: From June 2002 until November 2004 and during the final months of his term. Between late 2004 and early 2008, the people who pushed Bush to be more pro-Israel (the neo-cons - Rumsfeld, Cheney, Feith et al) had left the White House and those who came in their place (people like Robert Gates and Condoleeza Rice) were far less favorable to Israel.

Ten years ago today, it looked like the American leadership would understand why you cannot make peace with terrorism. Unfortunately, they no longer do. And the fact that America elected Obama three years ago has to make you wonder how many of the American people get it now either.
What I wrote three years ago about American leadership not getting it is even more true today. But the American people seem to be starting to get it. The American people overwhelmingly want their government to fight ISIS by bombing Syria and Iraq. Will that desire carry over into an election in which the current Islamist-loving American administration is replaced with one with clearer vision? We can only hope and pray. 

The time on this post is 13 years to the minute from the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The resistance put up by the passengers of that plane likely prevented it from crashing into the US Capitol or the White House. In the meantime, I'd like to remind you all of what was going on in 'Palestine' exactly 13 years ago, just a few minutes from now.

Let's go to the videotape.



That video has only 200,000 views. The one in the previous post has more than 3 million. It's time for Americans to awaken to the reality of who the 'Palestinians' are and how they really feel about the United States. It isn't going to change even if they get their 'state.'

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