Remembering 9/11 and the Second Intifada
Eighteen years ago today, Americans (and the world) turned on their televisions to witness burning and imploding towers, collapsed government offices, crowds running for their lives from giant clouds of pulverized concrete, and newsroom replays of commercial jumbo jets slamming into buildings over and over again. As events unfolded in real time on national television, and as rumors of other planes and other targets spread throughout the media, Americans experienced for the first time since WWII what it felt like to be under attack on the home front. A mixture of shock, anger and resolve led to massive shifts in American society, and in world history as a whole.
Only two days before, on September 9th, two Hamas operatives detonated themselves at the Nahariya train station and the Beit Lid Junction near Natanya, Israel, killing 3 Israelis and wounding 17 more. It was just the latest in a string of suicide bombings over the course of the previous year, in places such as the HaSharon Mall in Natanya (5 killed, 100 injured); the Hadera Bus Station (65 injured); Jaffa Road, Ben-Yehuda and Hanevi'im streets in Jerusalem (11 killed, 50 injured); the Dolphinarium Discotheque in Tel Aviv (21 killed); the Wall-Street Restaurant in Kiryat Motzkin (21 injured); the Number 16 bus in Haifa (15 killed); and the infamous Sbarro Restaurant bombing in Downtown Jerusalem, which killed 15 Israelis, including 4 children under the age of twelve.
Over 140 suicide bombings in Israel between 2000-2005 became collectively known as the Second Infitada, taken from an Arabic term which roughly translates in English to "tremor" or "shuddering." The attacks were planned and perpetrated by jihadist groups such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, who would often infiltrate Israel from the Palestinian territories, prompting the Israeli government to erect security fences and checkpoints around Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups that sprung up in the 1970's and 80's were financed by private donors throughout the Islamic world, many of whom were also financiers of mujaheddin groups in Afghanistan during their war against the invading Russian armies between 1979-89. It was during this time in Afghanistan that a multi-national jihadist group rose to prominence, led by a methodical and fanatical Arab man from the wealthy Saudi bin Laden family. His al-Qaeda movement (Arabic for "the base" or "the foundation") would later declare war on the United States after US troops "defiled" the land of their prophet during the First Gulf War in 1991. The fatwa was followed by a series of attacks against American diplomatic and military targets throughout the world in the 1990's, culminating with 9/11.
In this sense, Hamas, al-Qaeda, ISIS and other jihadist groups are all different heads of the same beast, which drank from the same well. The tragic result was over 600 Israeli deaths in 5 years and over 3000 American deaths in a single day, inextricably linking the Jewish State and it's largest ally together in a common struggle. As Americans remember the thousands lost in 9/11 in 4 suicide plane attacks, Israelis are also mourning those whom they lost in dozens of suicide attacks in that same fateful year. 2001 is a hinge of history, which set the world on its present course, the watershed of geo-politics in the Twenty-First Century, and a signpost of the consummate, age-ending conflict - the war to end all wars, the rod of iron to end all infitadas and jihads, the arrival of the Hope of the Nations, the King of the Jews.
Shalom from Israel.
For a detailed, side-by-side, real-time news reel documentary of the 9/11 attacks, we recommend this YouTube playlist: