On the morning of September 11, 2001, the U.S. suffered a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda which killed a total of 2,996 people and injured over 6,000 others. It was the worst terrorist attack in world history but the U.S. was not alone in its suffering. The attack joined Israel and the U.S. in what one rabbi called a “covenant of suffering.”
Unique 9-11 Memorial in Israel
Though 9-11 memorials are found in several countries around the world, the tiny country of Israel has 13 memorials, the most of any country outside the U.S. And significantly, the 30-foot-tall 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza in Ramot, Jerusalem is the only memorial outside of the United States that lists all the names of the victims, including five who were Israeli citizens. A small part of New York City, a metal shard from the ruins of theWorld Trade Center, is embedded in the base.
Following the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, the Jewish National Fund and JNF-USA erected a stone plaque listing the names of the 11 victims of that attack next to the 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza.
The attacks were a graphic reminder that the same evil that targets Israel also targets the U.S. Osama Bin Laden, the head of al Qaeda, stated that one of the main motivations for the attacks was U.S support for Israel. And terrorism in Israel reflected this connection with a spike in terrorist attacks. In 2001-2002, over 250 terrorist attacks in Israel killed 659 Israelis and injured over 3,800. Many of the victims were U.S. citizens.
Taylor Force: American Law Protecting Israelis From Terrorism
One such victim, a Christian military veteran from Texas named Taylor Force, was stabbed to death on a Tel Aviv beach by a Palestinian terrorist in 2016. Because the killer died while committing an act of terrorism, the killer’s relatives are paid a monthly pension equal to several times the average monthly Palestinian wage. The Taylor Force Act was introduced to Congress and initially encountered partisan difficulties with the Democrats opposing the bill. It was passed in 2018, ending American aid to the Palestinian Authority unless the PA stopped paying stipends to the terrorists and their families, including the families of successful suicide bombers.
9-11 Changing America, Creating a Covenant of Suffering
It is interesting to note that 9-11, the eleventh day of the ninth month, has a counterpart in Israel. Like most Europeans, Israelis write the date with the day preceding the month, so September 11th is written 11-9. On the Hebrew calendar, 11-9, or the ninth day of the eleventh month, is Tisha b’Av, the ninth of Av, a day of fasting in which Jews commemorate the destruction of our “Twin Towers”: the First and Second Temples.
Rabbi Pinchas Winston, an American rabbi living in Israel who is a prolific end-of-days author, described how 9-11 essentially changed the U.S. and its relationship with Israel.
“Up until 9-11, the sympathy in the U.S. regarding terrorist attacks was superficial. Terrorism was 6,000 miles away for most Americans. 9-11 brought Israel to the shores of America. Home Front security suddenly became a very real concern, changing the structure of daily life. Neither Jews nor non-Jews could hide from the enemy that was attacking Israeli citizens.”
The rabbi emphasized that this was a bitter lesson in humility for the most powerful nation in the world.
“It opened up Americans’ eyes to the fact that the unbelievable things that happened in other countries, including terror and despotic leaders, could happen in downtown USA. The foundations of the country shifted.”
This transformed the relationship between the U.S. and Israel.
“Rather than look at Israel with sympathy, America looked to Israel for solutions, to learn how we coped. We became true allies,” Rabbi Winston said. “Israel is a partner with God in geula (redemption) and just like the nations brought sacrifices to the temple, America can be a partner with Israel in redemption.”
Rabbi Winston noted that the “dark side” blamed Israel for 9-11, either through absurd conspiracies or by accepting Osama Bin Laden’s claim that the attacks came as punishment for U.S. support of Israel.
“This led to an equal rise in support for the Palestinians,” Rabbi Winston noted, pointing to 9-11 as a point at which Americans were pushed to choose sides.
But choosing sides has Biblical implications, the rabbi noted.
I will bless those who bless you And curse him that curses you; And all the families of the earth Shall bless themselves by you.” Genesis 12:3
“Even more than any military cooperation or connection via the American jews, 9-11 was a covenant in suffering that indelibly joined the U.S. to Israel,” Rabbi Winston said. “But a covenant can only be made intentionally. It includes the Americans who choose to join Israel.”
Comforting the Downtrodden
Rabbi Tuly Weisz, the founder of Israel 365, works so hard to support Israel in times of dire need.
“September 11th is a difficult day,” he shares. “On this day, we remember the thousands of Americans who were murdered by radical Islamic terrorists. We pray for the victims and their families”.
“Unfortunately, here in Israel, terrorism is all too familiar. Terror attacks and attempted terror attacks are daily occurrences. Israelis live in constant fear of suicide bombings, car-rammings, rockets, stabbing attacks, shootings, and arson terrorism. Despite the dark reality, the Children of Israel are committed to living in their land in the fulfillment of God’s word:
“This year, just as in every year since the establishment of the State of Israel, dozens of Israelis were murdered by terrorists.”
Today we mourn and remember all those who we have lost to senseless acts of terrorism. We look after and care for those who live on. As lovers of God, and the Bible, we must follow His command and care for His children, as it is written:
“You will listen to the entreaty of the lowly, Hashem…to Champion the orphan and the downtrodden, that men who are of the earth tyrannize no more.” Psalms 10:17-18