September 11 is a day of awe. The time of year when all remember, to the letter, where they were as they witnessed hate and radicalism crash down on modernity and civility. The sea of tears spilling at the 9/11 memorial seems to be never ending, as we cry for those who perished, as well as for ourselves: having to live in -- and bring our children into -- a world which contains such stark contradictions and moral abominations.
However, commemorating 9/11 should not only be about remembering the heroes and the victims of these atrocious murders, whose place in the Book of Days is forever sacred and their memories sanctified. Indeed, as an existential need, it is imperative we all take a moment to face the evil forces who were in motion then, and are in motion today: radical Muslims whose souls turned so dark and malicious and whose values not only differ from ours but downright negate them.
These forces did not disappear off world stage, but rather are building up and waiting for any chance to spread and prosper. We can and must make sure this reality never comes to be. The only way we will be able to defeat modern barbarity is by first and foremost acknowledging it. Only then will we be able to tell right from wrong, friend from foe. We must dare leave our comfort zones of compassion and humility we all feel in the wake of the 9/11 massacre and move on to build the right coalitions, so that we could take measures, real measures, against those lurking in the dark already preying on the weakest with horrible torments and cruelty. The New York Times reported a few weeks ago (Aug 20, 2015: "Brutality Cloaked in Piety"):
A 12-year-old girl who was bound, gagged and raped by an Islamic State fighter while she was held as a sex slave in Iraq said that her attacker would pray before and after he raped her, bookending his brutality with acts of religious devotion.
"I kept telling him it hurts -- please stop," she said in an interview at a refugee camp in Qadiya, Iraq, to which she escaped after 11 months in captivity. "He told me that according to Islam he is allowed to rape an unbeliever. He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to God."
Where was the "International Community"? Where did the "Family of Nations" go? When have they become so deaf to the cries of a 12 year old?!
The United Nations Security Council seemed to have been in great haste to approve a faulty agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran, a dictatorial, murderous, deceitful and fanatic regime, which abuses minorities and human rights continuously, and to allow it to cement its hold over the people of Iran. Legitimizing this kind of a genocidal regime seemed to them like the right thing to do, even as Iran continues to threaten the only Jewish State with genocide. Welcome back, Iran, to the "Family of Nations".
Moreover, on Thursday, September 10, the eve of this somber and solemn day, the United Nations chose a major resolution to vote on: overwhelmingly supporting raising a flag of "Palestine" at its headquarters in New York City, an empty and meaningless gesture which will have zero effect on Palestinian lives on the ground. You know what: I am wrong. It won't have zero effect, but rather a negative one: by pushing forward with such a unilateral, meaningless and symbolically anti-Israel steps, the United Nations and the international community send Israelis another message of enmity, thus blocking any chance of a real thaw between two peoples who live so close and yet are worlds apart. Not to mention the focus on procedural measures while real lives are at risk out there.
The European Union seems to be a jolly member of this "international play of the absurd". A few days ago, its Foreign Minister, Federica Mogherini, announced in Luxemburg that the EU is working on labeling "products made in Israeli settlements". As tens of thousands of refugees are knocking on the EU's doors, trying to flee the Islamic State's Regime of Middle Ages and begging for their lives, EU officials and politicians are busy with "product labeling" in a move which, again, will do nothing but to distance Israelis and Palestinians and make lives even harder for ... Palestinians. In August, the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics reported the number of Palestinian workers employed in settlements increased from 16,000 in the first quarter of this year to 20,000 in the second quarter. Yes, EU, we know you have your disagreements with Israel, but where do you think 20,000 Palestinians will go to work and earn a decent salary with dignity, if your ploy succeeds?! How about actually having the real interests of Palestinians in mind before you act just to clear your conscience regardless of reality on the ground. Truth be told: in the face of utter chaos in the Middle East today, Palestinians are much better off than so many of their Arab brothers and sisters, in spite of all the difficulties.
It's time we answer the moment's challenge: say no to moral haze, distinguish good from bad and get our priorities straight. As the world is coping with severe issues, from climate change to genocidal terror, and the Middle East is collapsing unto itself, we must state clearly: Israel is the stronghold of the values of democracy and freedom in a region direly in need of it. It may not be perfect but it is part of the solution, not the problem.
And as for the UN: once and for all, it's time to get to work in the real world. People need you.