Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sept 11, 2007 & Shana Tova

September 11, 2001 was a black day in the history of the Western world, but a day to celebrate if you were an Islamic fanatic. Hy Brown, 65, was the structural engineer of the World Trade Towers. He immigrated to Israel three years ago. According to an interview with Brown in the Jerusalem Post, the reason the towers collapsed was wet noodles. He said if you take twenty noodles and stand them up, balance a cup on top, the cup will be fine. Even if you take away nineteen noodles, the cup will still stand. But if you put water on the noodles, they’ll collapse with or without the cup. According to Brown the Twin Towers was built to withstand heat up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Jet fuel burns at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The steel in the Twin Towers melted just like pouring water on noodles.

According to Brown, Bin Ladin, an engineer, knew the towers would collapse, he just underestimated the number of floors that would be effected. Brown thinks Bin Ladin’s plan was to topple the top five or six floors of the towers, send them onto other buildings, causing a domino effect. The second plane hit lower which caused the building to fall faster.

Israel has its own tragedy on a much small scale on September 11th. 69 Israeli soldiers were injured, one critically, five seriously, seven moderately, the rest lightly, when a Hamas rocket fired from Gaza fell on the Israeli Army’s Zitim training base a few kilometers from the border. The wounded soldiers were evacuated to a number of hospitals.

Parents of the wounded soldiers called for an immediate retaliation. Israel has been considering a massive group operation and while some analysts thought this attack would set off Israel’s counter-offensive, others believe the situation in the north of Israel tempers those moves. For months there have been fears that Syria may strike at Israel from the north. In the last few weeks those fears have abated, but yesterday Israeli Jets reportedly flew over Syrian airspace, fired five missiles at a Syrian target, jettisoned empty fuel tanks over Turkey, then returned unharmed to Israel.

The army is on high alert in the north and military analysts said that the Israeli army wasn’t going to risk attacking Gaza in the south and leaving the northern border and communities exposed to Syrian and Hezbollah attacks.

Major General (Res.) Yitzchak Ben-Israel, a Knesset member representing the Kadima party, said in an interview in the Yideot Achranot newspaper that “the situation in Sderot” (a neighboring town to the base) is intolerable. Ben Israel said that “deliberate firing on civilians’ is a war crime. The latest attack was on an army base, so the war crimes accusation may not apply.

As for retaliation, Ben Israel said that “there is no way to curb the activity of fanatical organizations…unless we use force.” The retired general claimed that over the last 60 years Israel has learned that striking back harder at the enemy each time an attack takes place ultimately results in the innocent Palestinian population voicing their objection to the attacks, causing the attackers to lose the support of the population, and the cessation of attacks. Ben Israel believed retaliation was necessary, but needed to be implemented in the context of an overall plan.

Israel’s newly appointed President Shimon Peres told the press, “I don’t understand why the Palestinians keep firing at us since we’re already out of Gaza.”

The Prime Minister is reported as saying that no attack would take place until at least after the Jewish holidays.

As Israel approaches the New Year the population has climbed to 7.1 million.

In another event a U.S. Cour has found Iran guilty of the July 31, 2002 bombing of the Hebrew University’s Frank Sinatra cafeteria where nine students were killed. The court ordered Iran to pay $12, 904, 548 to the family of Marla Bennet, of San Diego, who was killed in the blast. The US Judge determined that Hamas carried out the attack, and since Hamas is a supporter of Iran, then the Iranian government has to pay up.

On Monday Israel kidnapped a top Hamas militant from Gaza during a daring commando raid. Reportedly the man was spirited out of the city to a waiting helicopter and then flown to a “secure location” in Israel. The man is reportedly to be held in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who was captured two years ago by Hamas militants.

This action coupled with the Israeli Jets flying over Syria, are reportedly examples of Minister of Defense Ehud Barak’s aggressive policy since taking over his job a few months ago; action in direction opposition to that of his predecessor who took a “no response” attitude.

In hindsight one wonders at the lack of former PM Ariel Sharon’s wisdom in appointing former Minister of Defense Amir Peretz to that post. Analysts believe that Sharon must have thought himself invulnerable, and assumed that he, not Peretz, would manage any military conflict or complication. But Sharon’s stroke proved that hubris is not only the downfall of kings but can also be the downfall of nations. Given different circumstances, like a Syrian invasion of Israel coupled with Iranian missile attacks, joined perhaps by the Egyptians if they saw a clear victory, Israel might now be flying the flag of foreign nations.

As the New Year approaches nostalgia is not far behind. Old timers remember when supermarkets weren’t guarded, and freedom to move about the airports of the world was a relatively pleasant experience. Older Americans recall the American Express commercial with then football icon O.J. Simpson hurtling over barriers, dressed in suit and tie holding a briefcase in one hand, heading for the departure gate. Today he’d be at least detained, perhaps arrested, and possibly shot for the same action. There are those who believe he deserved any of the above, but that’s another matter.

Private airplanes, so far, afford that original pleasurable experience of travel, not the tension ridden gruff affair at the hands of unsmiling security personnel. 9/11 changed the world, as we all know.

But in Israel as far back as the early 1970’s bags were searched at the entrance to supermarkets and movie theaters. This came as a response to Palestinian terrorism then quarterbacked by the late Yassir Arafat and/or his cronies.

Each time a bomb went off in a different location, guards appeard at the entraces of similar places, all across Israel. For nearly forty years Israelis have been accustomed to searches at the entrance to public places, from malls to vegetable markets. After the “Lod Massacre” when terrorists opened fire at the Israeli airport, the profile screening system went into effect.

Again, a private plane landing in a private airport still allows assassins like Bin Ladin to fly into some remote airport with a suitcase nuclear bomb and no one would even ask him for his passport.

The world has changed since 9/11, but not enough. The threat of terrorism is as great as it was six years ago. The Islamists are still in the ascendancy. Perhaps the latest law suit against Iran will put a nation’s face on the cause for terrorism. Iran was reportedly also responsible for the attack against the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, as well as the blast on Marine base in Lebanon nearly twenty years ago.

The sages tell us that “Ain Chadash Tachet Ha Shemesh,” (there’s nothing new under the sun.) Let’s hope that with this New Year, things begin to change for the better, that the voice of reason takes hold in the streets of the Arab world and puts a stop to the wholesale slaughter perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalists in the name of God.

Let’s hope that God, wherever He or She is, finally wakes up to what’s happening in His/Her name and decides enough blood has been spilled. If not, then the only thing new that’s going to happen is another war. The only question is when, and how far will it spread?

From those of us at Jerusalem Magazine, we’d like to wish all of our faithful readers of the Jewish persuasion, and that all those of the Hebrew faith be written in the Book of Life for a Healthy, Happy, Successful New Year. And for those of other faiths, may the Lord Bless you and Keep You. And for those Islamic Fundamentalists, I can only wish you what Tevye the milkman wished the Tzar in the play ‘Fiddler On The Roof.’ “May the Lord Bless you and keep you, far away from us.” But in their case, I’d leave off the blessing, and substitute a curse. The readers can fill in the one they think most appropriate.

Shana Tova