Remembering September 11 – personal
Remembering September 11 is a personal matter for every American, and especially for every resident of the Tri-State region. Herewith a personal case-in-point from your editor.
How I saw September 11
My wife and I were preparing to take someone to see a doctor in West Orange, NJ. So I was in our bedroom when my wife shouted to me, “Come quickly! A plane just hit the World Trade Center!”
I rushed downstairs and stared at the TV—and did a double take. The North Tower was in flames—and the newscasters were saying that a commercial airliner had hit it. This was not some silly horror movie—think The Towering Inferno meets The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. No, this was a ready-made disaster film of which all of us were in the cast. I did not know anyone in New York—and then I felt ashamed to take heart in that knowledge.
And as we kept our eyes glued to the TV, the next scene surprised us. An obvious plane-like shape crossed the sky near the two towers. Then that shape disappeared—and a puff of smoke and flame shot out of the South Tower. That was when the newscasters gasped and said, “Another one just hit the South Tower while we’re sitting here watching!”
That’s when I knew this was deliberate. That’s when I also knew that we were lucky to be alive, we who were nowhere near New York. And that’s when my number-one “POI” sprang instantly to my mind: Osama bin Laden. If everyone else had forgotten his declaration of war against the United States, I hadn’t.
When next the newscasters showed pictures of a crater of smoke and flame next to the Pentagon, I was boiling over with rage. Then I heard of another plane that simply crashed in Shanksville, PA. What was that all about? I would learn later—some passengers on board had tried to storm the cockpit, not wanting to let that plane go to what was almost certainly a target in Washington. Whether the White House or the Capitol, we would not learn for many years. (Eventually, authorities in Pakistan would catch the architect of this plan—literally with his pants down. He then would sing whole arias that Placido Domingo would envy.)
But that would come later. To return to the scene: we went on to the dermatologist’s office. The skin docs had set up a TV in the waiting room. And as we watched, we saw the South Tower collapse. Half an hour later, the North Tower collapsed, exactly like the South.
I was in a public waiting room, so I could not shout out loud what I eventually did shout to a group of fellow churchmen that evening:
Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Little!
[Revelation 18:1, paraphrase]
Why did September 11 happen?
As soon as I could, I searched authoritative Qu’ranic translation sites, for the word “fight.” That’s when I found it:
When the sacred months are over, fight and slay the infidels wheresoever ye find them! Seize them, besiege them, ambush them with every ambush! But if they will repent and follow Allah and pay the poor-due, then let them go their way. Lo! Allah is Forgiving! Merciful!
Experts call this the Verse of the Sword. It is only one of many in which the Qu’ran commands its readers to commit murder and treason against all persons and governments that are not Islamic.
What, then, of the “peaceful verses” in the Qu’ran? Muhammad wrote those earlier than he wrote the “fighting verses.” I also discovered the Abrogation Principle, according to which: the verse that Muhammad wrote or spoke more recently takes precedence in any conflict.
Therefore, the “fighting words” are still in force, and the “peaceful words” are out of force. I knew from that moment forward that I would be at war with the quasi-religious political movement called Islam.
The war begins
That night, President George W. Bush gave a stern warning: we would hunt down the terrorists wherever they hid. Any country that gave them safe harbor or training, would take the same punishment.
That might be difficult for some people to understand. But the killing of three thousand people, who just happened to be in the wrong place, is not a common garden-variety murder. It is war, and any country where it happens has the right—indeed the duty—to treat it as such.
If any of the above sounds familiar, it should. Yair Lapid sharply reminded the French readers of Terre Promise, a year later, that residents of Israel live with this sort of thing every day. A selective application of international law seems to forbid Israel to act as it should. And an equally selective application of political correctness stops the United States from acting as it might.
Osama bin Laden is dead now. His successor does not seem to be made of the same “stuff,” if his latest operation is any indicator. Three terrorists trying to blow up a car or truck on a bridge or street is a damp ladyfinger firecracker compared to September 11, 2001.
But the “fighting words” of the Qu’ran are still in force. And plenty of men are ready, willing and able to turn those “fighting words” into action. So long as such men wander abroad in this world, September 11 can happen again. The job of every citizen and lawful resident of the United States must be to make sure that September 11 never happens again.
I intended no plagiarism of Yair Lapid. I have no doubt that he would wonder whether, at last, an American understands what it means to be under endless siege. To all the Yair Lapids, I say: I’ve been there. I was a guest in your country last springtime. I have toured Yad VaShem, walked the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem, and offered my feeble prayers at the Western Wall. And I have seen Galma and Masada.
And to my fellow Americans I say: we are all Israelis now, and became so on September 11, 2001.
- Journey to Israel: Tel Aviv, Joppa, and Cesaria Maritima. (That series will soon resume.)
- Stand by Israel!
- What does it mean to be an Israeli?
- The death of Osama bin Laden (and his further plans)
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