September 11, 2002 Update

Letters from Israel

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Dear family and friends,

By coincidence this afternoon at 4pm Israel time, 9am New York time, I was on a bus, just as I was at the same time last year on September 11. Last year I sat dazed listening to the news on the bus radio, not fully comprehending what had happened. This year the bus passengers grew quiet as the radio relayed the memorial ceremony from Ground Zero.

In Jerusalem an official memorial ceremony was held in the presence of Israeli president Moshe Katzav and US ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer. The cabinet held a special memorial session at the Knesset.

All day the news programmes have been devoted to the subject, with regular programming interrupted for live link-ups with memorials in the US. Related songs have been played on the radio, including several of the recent American ballads written for the occasion.

In Tel Aviv an Israeli orchestra commemorated the attacks by performing Mozart's Requiem. An exhibition of photos from the New York site opened today at Jerusalem's Israel Museum.

More than any other free nation, we, who have been battered and bruised by decades of terrorism, understand how America feels. We know exactly what President Bush meant when he talked of men, women and children murdered simply because they were American. How many Jews and Israelis have been murdered simply because they were Jews or Israelis? We have been in that dark, terrifying place so often, especially in the last two years. We have so many bereaved parents, so many orphaned children.

Watching the solemn dignity of the American memorial ceremonies, we are reminded of our own. The recitation of names, the tolling of the bell like the sounding of the memorial sirens here. A people dignified and tearful, like our own. The same quiet determination is common to both, agonising sadness mixed with a stubborn resolve to rebuild our lives and defeat the evil forces working to destroy our freedom.

We extend our sympathy and solidarity to the American people on this memorial day.


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Copyright 2002 by Leiah Elbaum.