Saturday, July 09, 2016

September 12, 2001

A Few Words

from Ali Abunimah

It is extremely hard to write this morning, and yet I fee I have to.
Everything hurts so much. After a few hours sleep, I woke up in the
dark, hoping and praying that I had woken up from a nightmare. The
nightmare is still there. Today, as dawn breaks over New York City and
the country, we will start to come face to face with the enormous
tragedy and crime that struck yesterday, and we will begin to learn of
countless thousands of families whose loved ones have been ripped from
them. They have will have names and faces. It is beyond imagination and

Since yesterday the newscasts have been rife with speculation about who
could have carried out this awful crime. File footage of Ussama Bin
Laden appears on every screen. Rumors of Arabs being arrested, or
Arabic-language materials being found by police are already being made
much of. On top of the pain we are all feeling for the continuing
tragedy, this fills me with fear. The fact is no one yet knows who was
capable of such a sophisticated assault on the world's most powerful

National Public Radio this morning focussed on reports of TV pictures
of Palestinians celebrating at the blow struck against the United
States. These images fill me with disgust and shame that anyone could
put on such a display. Peter Jennings on ABC News was more careful in
his analysis, pointing out that while some Palestinians in the occupied
territories may have felt that way, his experience in the Middle East
suggests that many many more people all over the Arab world will be
feeling sadness and shock, "because of their deep attachments to the
United States." He said, for example that more people from the "deeply
troubled" Palestinian city of Ramallah live in the United States than
in Ramallah itself. That is my experience too. I have not spoken to one
person who is not utterly horrified by what has happened.

I will not here try to explain why some Palestinians may have felt joy
at seeing America humiliated, and dealt a horrible blow. If I had been
under bombardment and siege for more than a year and occupation for
more than three decades, I hope that I would keep my humanity and not
surrender to the basest emotions, and I am sure that most Palestinians
have not. While all our attention was focused on the unfolding events
in the United States, nine Palestinians were killed when Israeli forces
attacked the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank last night, and
another three Palestinians were killed elsewhere. Eleven more people
died. A ridiculously small number compared to what the United States
has just suffered, but another enormous, unbearable tragedy for each of
their families. As enormous and unbearable as each loss suffered by the
Israelis and that will be suffered by so many American families.

I hope too that Americans will maintain their humanity and not surrender to
their basest feelings as understandable anger, frustration
and grief rise. Arabs and Muslims in America now live with real fear
and apprehension. From early yesterday morning, I began receiving to my
website, as well as to the email of the Arab American Action Network
messages that only deepened the pain of the day.

"You are going to feel the wrath of all Americans. LEAVE this country
ALL PERSIANS ALL MUSLIMS!!!!!!!" wrote Darrell Hawley, adding for good
measure that Arabs, Muslims and "Persians" "deserve nothing less than

"Pay back time...will come soon," was the simple message from

Doug asked "Ali, why do your people love when civilians are killed. You
are Evil."

"Dear dirty towel-heads," wrote Brook Shuler, "Please take your
illogical, misogynistic and murdering religion back to the Middle East.
We have tolerated you disgusting people long enough in our country."
Brook added "I hope the US wipes out every man, women and child Arab in
the middle east. You people, like the AIDS virus, are a disease of this
world. I will rest more easily when all of you are dead."

This is just a sampling of what I received. While I am fortunate to
have received only words of hate, I fear others may be victims of much
worse. But this is not the whole story, and this is not the America I
know and that I was born in that is speaking. What made a far greater
impression on me were the many messages of support from friends and

"Do not be discouraged and do not let these few angry people blemish
the good image you have of Americans," wrote Gabor Mester.

Marc from California wrote "I am a Jewish American. I am grateful for
your work, and for your existence. We are in this together. Whatever
happens, we are all Americans and world citizens. We are people of good
will and peace, and this tragedy is all of ours."

An unidentified person wrote "A lot of us know, even it actually
happens that these terrorists are of arab-origins, they do not speak
for all of the arab people. The same way Timothy Mc Veigh was not
representative of the American people."

"I am an American citizen who is deeply concerned for the safety of all
our Arab-American citizens. My ancesters were European but I consider
myself to be just another human being in the larger family of human
beings. I am very fond of the Arabic people and culture. I most
sincerely hope that each and everyone of you remains safe, and free of
injury to your persons, your homes, and your businesses. Love and peace
to each of you" was the message from "C.G."

At my work place, so many of my colleagues came to my office to ask
about my family. Many friends in New York offered to take them in. My
sister, her husband and their young daughter live literally in the
shadow of the World Trade Center. The worst moment of my life was
watching on TV as the first World Trade Center tower collapsed on to
their neighborhood. I spent an intensely agonizing time yesterday
morning before I could get in touch with them and learn that they were
safe and reassure the rest of my family. They are now in a hotel,
unable to go home, but they are safe. So many thousands of people are
not so lucky and are still waiting in agony for news of their loved
ones. Friends from non-Arab organizations in Chicago came forward to
say they will hold a press conference today to urge their fellow
citizens not to take part in a backlash and to realize that whoever is
responsible for this awful crime, that does not make millions of people

It is this caring, compassionate America I will choose to see. It is
this America that helped me get through my day yesterday and that will
help millions of people to survive hardest days yet to come. It is this
America that I will continue to be a part of and to stand with in the
face of enormous evil and tragedy. I hope too that this America will
stand with Arab Americans, Muslims and all others who may be targeted
or defamed because of what happened. I hope that people in the Middle
East will stand with Americans in human solidarity as we here have
stood with people in the Middle East and supported them as they too
have been victimized by senseless violence, loss and ongoing injustice.

I hope that we will all use words and take actions that will heal and
support each other and try to maintain our calm and humanity in the
face of incalculable suffering and sadness.

September 12, 2001, The Jerusalem Post, US to Israelis: 'We will not forget your friendship',

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer made the following statement - first in English and then in Hebrew - in Jerusalem this afternoon:

"On behalf of the United States Government and the American people, I
want to thank the people and the government of Israel for their
generous expressions of sympathy and solidarity. The United States
experienced horrific events yesterday. It was good and important to
hear from our friends.

"We are deeply moved by Israel's response. The Government of Israel has
declared a national day of mourning. The Israeli public is donating
blood. The embassy is receiving numerous calls of condolence and
solidarity. We appreciate the offers of assistance. Words cannot fully
convey our appreciation. We will not forget your friendship.

"The United States embassy in Tel Aviv is operating today at a reduced
capacity. We have no specific information regarding threats to American
citizens or interests in Israel, but prudence dictates that we heighten
our security posture. We thank Israeli authorities for their assistance
in this regard.

"President Bush has spoken about our government's response to this
heinous crime. America and our friends join with all those who want
peace and security. We stand together to win the war against terrorism.
America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. We
will go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our

"May God bless all the families and friends touched by yesterday's

September 12, 2001, The Jerusalem Post, Palestinians: Israel exploiting US terror attacks,

Ten Palestinians, most of them Tanzim gunmen, were killed in heavy
gunfights with IDF troops in the Jenin area this morning.

Palestinians claim Israel is exploiting the terror attacks in the
United States as an opportunity to carry out massacres of Palestinians
in the territories.

It is unclear if this most recent account of Palestinian dead is in
addition to this morning report that nine people were killed in
overnight gunfights.

September 12, 2001, The Jerusalem Post, Where do the Palestinians go from here? (audio)

The Jerusalem Post's Palestinian Affairs correspondent, Lamia Lahoud,
discusses how the Palestinian Authority is dealing with the damage
control after Palestinians have been captured on film dancing in the
streets celebrating the attacks in the US.

To hear her report, click here for Media Player format.

Thousands of Palestinians celebrated today's terror attacks in the
United States, chanting "God is Great" and distributing candy to
passers-by, even as their leader, Yasser Arafat, said he was horrified.

The US government has become increasingly unpopular in the West Bank
and Gaza Strip in the past year of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, with
many Palestinians accusing Washington of siding with Israel.

September 12, 2001, Jordan Times, When terrorism wins, everyone loses,

JORDANIANS STAND hand-in-hand with all peace-loving peoples around the world in condemning terrorism and grieving the huge loss of innocent lives in yesterday's attacks in Washington and New York.

As inhabitants of a region torn and consumed by more than five decades of Israeli occupation of Arab lands, Jordanians have long known what a blind and inhumane monster terrorism is, and have spared no effort in resisting and trying to eradicate it.

Even at the most trying time of deepest frustration — and the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon have plunged Arab masses into deep frustration indeed — Jordanian and Arab governments and peoples have always upheld the principle that violence only breeds more violence. And they have rejected terrorism as a vile, brutal, deformity of human nature.

While Americans stand appalled and speechless before the debris of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, the whole world should feel battered and defeated.

Whenever terrorism wins, everyone loses — human and religious values crumble, the very foundations of human civilisations and societies are shaken, and the universal principles of mankind are violated.

Yesterday's horrific wave of horrendous attacks hit at the very heart and symbols of American might: Manhattan, the financial and trading centre of the world; the Pentagon, the brain moving what is by far the planet's strongest military machine; the Treasury, America's monetary centre; the State Department, the world's policy-maker, and even the White House, supreme symbol of the state.

A mature and strong nation, America will surely find in itself the strength to heal these terrible and deep wounds — perhaps the worst sustained in its modern history.

American leaders might also pause and use this time of national grief to do some soul-searching that could help their country become even stronger and stand more steadfast in the face of tragedies and

Anti-American feelings are growing worldwide because of the new US-led world order after the collapse of Soviet power. Denying rising anti- Americanism would not serve any purpose.

In the Middle East, US policies towards Iraq and uneven-handed stands in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have fuelled anti-American sentiments amongst most social and political sectors in the Arab world. Even traditional and loyal allies, such as Saudi Arabia, are finding it extremely difficult to continue dealing with Washington with the same cordiality.

US decision-makers should evaluate whether they have steered the world's only superpower to dominate under the insignia of justice and international legitimacy, or succumbed to short-term interests, shortsighted considerations and the power of arrogance.

As for us, our prayers and most sincere condolences go to the American people, president, government, and the grieving families of the innocent victims whose lives were so brutally shattered.

September 12, 2001, Jordan Times, Israel evacuates diplomatic missions, closes airspace,

Israel closed its airspace to foreign planes on Tuesday and evacuated staff from diplomatic missions and Jewish institutions around the world, in response to a wave of airborne terror attacks in the United States.

Israeli officials said they “assumed Islamic extremists were responsible for the attacks in the United States”.

Several hours after the devastating attacks in New York and other US cities, Israel announced it was closing its airspace to foreign flights.

Only Israeli airliners would be allowed to enter Israel's air space, said Yerah Tal, an adviser to Transport Minister Ephraim Sneh. Israeli aircraft subject passengers to more stringent security checks than foreign carriers.

Tal said the limitation on foreign flights would be in effect for 24 hours, and then be reviewed. Dozens of foreign airliners serve Israel, landing at Israel's international airport outside Tel Aviv and two smaller facilities at the southern resort of Eilat.

Closing Israeli air space in peace time is almost unprecedented. Other cases of banning flights have occurred when hijacked planes were in the air.

An Israeli security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israeli fighter planes were escorting Israeli passenger aircraft in and out of Israeli airspace.

The report could not immediately be confirmed independently.

Police sent reinforcements to US Embassy in Tel Aviv and the two American consulates in the occupied Palestinian city of Jerusalem, said police spokesman Ofer Sivan. “Extra police have been sent, and security is being stepped up,” he said.

The Jewish Agency, a quasi-governmental organisation that brings immigrants to Israel, announced that it had closed its offices around the world.

Staff at Israeli embassies and consulates was reduced to the bare minimum, but the buildings would remain open, said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Yaffa Ben-Ari. Israel's consulate in New York City was closed at the instruction of the New York police, she said.

The Israeli embassy in Washington was put on “emergency footing,” she said, but would not give details.

Caught in the uncertainty over the closure of Israeli airspace was Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who was scheduled to visit Damascus on Wednesday.

Arafat was enroute to Gaza International Airport when he received word that Israel had closed its airspace. Arafat's motorcade turned back to Gaza City, and officials close to the Palestinian leader said he would try to reach Egypt by land on Wednesday to catch a flight from there.

Arafat was to meet Wednesday with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

May 26, 2012. StevenWarRan, Jerusalem Post Articles

September 12, 2001,
Is the world's favourite hate figure to blame? Osama bin Laden, by Robert Fisk,

I can imagine how Osama bin Laden received the news of the atrocities in the United States. In all, I must have spent five hours listening to him in Sudan and then in the Afghan mountains, as he described the inevitable collapse of the US, just as he and his comrades in the Afghan war helped to destroy the Red Army.

He will have watched satellite television, he will have sat in the corner of his room, brushing his teeth as he always did, with a mishwak stick, thinking for up to a minute before speaking. He once told me
with pride how his men had attacked the Americans in Somalia. He acknowledged that he personally knew two of the Saudis executed for bombing an American military base in Riyadh. Could he be behind the slaughter in America?

If Mr bin Laden was really guilty of all the things for which he has been blamed, he would need an army of 10,000. And there is something deeply disturbing about the world's habit of turning to the latest hate figure whenever blood is shed. But when events of this momentous scale take place, there is a new legitimacy in casting one's eyes at those who have constantly threatened America.

Mr bin Laden had a kind of religious experience during the Afghan war. A Russian shell had fallen at his feet and, in the seconds as he waited for it to explode, he said he had a sudden feeling of calmness. The shell never exploded.

The US must leave the Gulf, he would say every 10 minutes. America must stop all sanctions against the Iraqi people. America must stop using Israel to oppress Palestinians. He was not fighting an anti colonial war, but a religious one. His supporters would gather round him with the awe of men listening to a messiah. And the words they listened to were fearful in their implications. American civilians would no more be spared than military targets. Yet I also remember one night when Mr bin
Laden saw a pile of newspapers in my bag and seized them. By a sputtering oil lamp, he read them, clearly unaware of the world around him. Was this really a man who could damage America?

If the shadow of the Middle East falls over yesterday's destruction, then who else could produce such meticulously timed assaults? The rag- tag Palestinian groups that used to favour hijacking are unlikely to be able to produce a single suicide bomber. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have neither the capability nor the money that this assault needed. Perhaps the groups that moved close to the Lebanese Hizbollah in the 1980s, before the organisation became solely a resistance movement. The
bombing of the US Marines in 1983 needed precision, timing and infinite planning. But Iran, which supported these groups, is more involved in its internal struggles. Iraq lies broken, its agents more intent on torturing their own people than striking at the the US.

So the mountains of Afghanistan will be photographed from satellite and high-altitude aircraft in the coming days, Mr bin Laden's old training camps highlighted on the overhead projectors in the Pentagon. But to what end? For if this is a war it cannot be fought like other wars. Indeed, can it be fought at all without some costly military adventure overseas? Or is that what Mr bin Laden seeks above all else?

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