Everyday life in an extraordinary place.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Home of the Brave


Photograph copyright Yediot Aharonot

This Postcard from Israel was orignally written on 12 September 2001

Today was a national day of mourning in Israel. People here are in shock, not only because of the horrific tragedy of yesterday's events, but because they happened in America. Israelis view the United States as many things: a culture to be imitated, a wealthy country to be envied, and above all, a powerful ally to rely upon.

I don't believe that anyone in Israel ever dreamed that he or she would be in a position of panicked worry and mind-numbing grief over terrorist attacks in America. I know I have sent countless e-mails to friends and family over the last year, with "We're Okay" as the subject. Today, I received such an e-mail, and the role reversal stunned me. Here, we have become accustomed, if not reconciled, to being targets. We have learned the bitter skill of surviving in the face of tragedy. But we never imagined how painful it would be to sit by, watching while a disaster of such proportions took place in the strongest nation in the world.

The headline today on the front page of Israel's largest newspaper, Yedioth Aharonoth, is "A Mortal Blow in the Heart of the Free World." We feel it here, too... and we feel for you. Israel has often been isolated, a pariah among nations - the events at Durban are not a new phenomenon. Yet we have always known that America would not let us be annihilated. But to whom does the most powerful country in the world turn, when disaster strikes?

Israel has one of the very best, and most experienced, search and rescue teams in the world - by yesterday evening, that team had flown to Europe, ready to come ahead to America to aid in the rescue efforts in New York and Washington, D.C. But America declined our offer of help, and therein lies the answer to my question. When cataclysm befalls America, she relies on herself. That is the source of her stength, and her salvation.

Americans have always been a fiercely independent, self-reliant people. That is, I believe, the reason she has attained her position as the leading nation in the free world. That is also why she is so bitterly hated by the enemies of freedom. And it is also why America will not only survive this catastrophe, but ultimately triumph over it.

We in Israel have long respected, admired, and relied on America. Today, we find ourselves in the unprecedented position of mourning with you.

Today was a national day of mourning in Israel. People here are in shock, not only because of the horrific tragedy of yesterday's events, but because they happened in America. Israelis view the United States as many things: a culture to be imitated, a wealthy country to be envied, and above all, a powerful ally to rely upon.

Oh, say! Can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed, at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there.

Oh, say does the Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?


(c) Amy Samin

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