Israel Resource Review 12th September, 2001


Witness to Terror: Watching the World Trade Center Implode and Listening to Security Sources in Israel
David Bedein

The terror at the Twin Towers caught me in Lower Manhattan, where I was giving briefings on how the PLO, the seemingly legitmated peace partner with Israel, had incorporated the Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations and philosophy within the PLO's Palestinian Authority, in its school books, media, maps, and evolving legal system.

Bedein in New York on 11th September

Indeed, the new constitution of the Palestinian Authority, prepared as a framework for a new state, excludes any juridical status for Judaism or for Christianity within the new state. The borders of the state remain all of Palestine. The Islamic impulse to regain and liberate all of Palestine remain the dominant features of the PA school system. The entire population of the Arab refugee camps are mandated to return to the precise homes and villages that they left in 1948.

All this, at a time when the PLO's Palestine Authority and UNRWA, the agency that runs the Arab refugee camps under the premise and promise of the right of return, have received massive help from around the world. The director of the European Union in Israel, Mr. Jean Breteche told me in an interview that the EU has poured more than $3 billion into the Palestinian Authority, an entity with no accountability whatsover, whose ideology could easily be described as Islam uber alles.

Before my scheduled lecture on the subject of the PA's absorption of Islamic extremism scheduled for the afternoon of September 11th , I gazed in horror outside of the office that I was working in the 24th floor at 401 Broadway. Following the two plane crashes into the Twin Towers, I was witness to a towering inferno on top of a Twin Tower closest to us. I quickly cocked my camera in the direction of the building and caught the picture of its explosion and collapse.

Throughout the next 12 hours, I contacted trusted security sources in Israel to hear what they had to say.

Their feedback: to look beyond Bin Laden to determine who was responsible for this horrendous crime.

One source at the Israeli prime minister's office noted that Israel was warning the US to examine the cooperation of several governments, NOT individuals,in the perpetration of this act: Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, coordinated with Syria and the PLO.

A Former advisor on terrorism to Israeli Prime Minister's Office, Mr. Rafi Eitan, told Jerusalem investigative reporter Dennis Eisenberg that all signs pointed to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein as trhe leading perpetartor.

Another Israeli intelligence expert remarked that the Israeli government had warned that US airlines may have been infiltrated by Moslem personnel who could have been activated to carry out such attacks.

Meanwhile, my conversations with Palestinian reporters made it quite clear that the demonstrations of joy that occurred immediately following the attacks in the cities under the Arafat's control could not have been organized without the direct approval of Yassir Arafat. Middle East Newsline Director Steve Rodan reported that Arafat's personnel were out there at the forefront of the Palestinian street demonstrations that lauded the Twin Tower attacks. And most important,it was the PA that alerted and invited the AP, Reuters, BBC, CNN and NBC to film the mass Palestinian demos of support for the terror attacks against the US.

On the eve of Arafat's first diplomatic visit to Damascus in a generation, it became clear that the PLO chieftan wanted to let the Arab world know that his people supported direct terrorism against ALL targets in the US, civlian and military.

However, Arafat condemned the attacks a few hours after the demos of joy took place, so that he could benefit from both worlds with two messages: Arafat successfully conveyed to the west that he condemned the action and successfuly conveyed to his own people that they should express their support for the attacks.

It will now be incumbent upon those of us to cover the Palestinian Authority to provide the media with the precise message that Arafat conveys to his own people in his own language, so that the world will judge whether or not the message that Arafat conveys is one of war or one of peace.

After a decade in which the US state department has asked Israel to ignore Arafat's rhetoric and to get down to negotiations no matter what Arafat says, it will be interesting to note if the American people maintain that same level of patience when and if the official media of the Palestinian Authority continues to endorse terror.

There is only one way to tell: And that is to publicize the official message of the Palestinian Authority: Islam uber alles, from sea to shining sea.

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

The Implications: This Far and No Farther
Nahum Barnea,
Senior Commentator, Yediot Aharonot

Up until yesterday it was often said that the twentieth century ended in 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Within months the Soviet bloc disintegrated and the Cold War ended. It appeared that the world had chosen to live happily under the wings of one superpower, one culture, and one economic system. The world chose America.

Yesterday, when New York's Twin Towers collapsed one after the other, the real opening signal for the twenty-first century was sounded. It began with a war. This time America's enemy is not a rival superpower. The enemy is the anger, jealousy and thirst for vengeance of those left behind. The enemy is a different culture, a different ideology, a different set of values. The American victory celebration lasted for twelve years, from Berlin to Durban. Yesterday it paid the price.

Israel, which has gained quite a bit of experience with suicide-bombers, has never seen such a sophisticated, bold and lethal operation as the attack in American yesterday. The results show us how vulnerable centers of power are, not only in America, but in any country. There is no need for chemical or biological weaponry, or a pocket-sized atomic bomb. When the enemy is impervious to intelligence, and is trained and prepared to commit suicide, there is almost no way to stop it.

Yesterday, many compared this terror attack to the surprise attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor. In certain respects, yesterday's attack was far worse. It hit the heart of America and its distinctive symbols of power, and it pitted America against an anonymous and faceless foe, without a known address.

If America follows its own tradition, it will return fire. President Bush's initial reaction, which was quiet, almost pathetic, points to his inexperience rather than to the type of response he will choose.

According to the American perception, a terror attack such as yesterday's poses an existential threat. It threatens the US's position as a superpower, its stability and its values. Therefore, it justifies a brutal attack, which does not necessary distinguish between the guilty and the innocent. That is one of the prerogatives superpowers have.

If yesterday's terror attack is tied to the Middle East it has serious implications for Israel. Terrorism has expanded to such a scale that the entire West cannot accept it, let alone Israel. This needs to be handled from the source.

The series of terror attacks in the US caught Arafat on his way to Damascus. His reconciliation with the Assad government is based on the two's involvement in supporting terrorism. It is hard to be impressed by it.

The question is, whether it is not time for these two gentlemen to decide to which part of the world of nations they wish to belong. Irrespective of the question of who is responsible for these terror attacks, their horrific results oblige the West to begin an all-out war against terrorism, including a war against any country or political entity aiding terrorism. That is the message Israel will bring to the world. It appears that this time the world will listen.

Last night the ministers held a consultation in Jerusalem. Some of them demanded to take advantage of this opportunity: under cover of the terror attack in New York, to settle scores with the Palestinians. Sharon preferred not to be in such a hurry. The blow of the terror attack that America suffered is so significant, that it would be best not to take advantage of it like thieves in the night.

Thomas Friedman, the influential New York Times columnist, came to Israel this week for a working visit. In his first column from here, which was published yesterday, he said that on the eve of his departure his daughter asked him here he was going. When he told her "Israel," she advised him not to go. She was that concerned.

Yesterday Friedman was in safe Tel Aviv, whereas his daughter was in besieged Washington. It is a small and dangerous world. It seems that terrorism, like so many other areas, is part of globalization.

This article ran in Yediot Aharonot, September 12th, 2001

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

Hemi Shalev

"A day that will live in infamy." That was how President Franklin Roosevelt described the attack on Pearl Harbor 60 years ago. And that, and more, is how yesterday's cataclysmic disaster will be remembered in the United States. From this morning, human history will never be the same.

Most residents of the global village looked on in shock at the horror movie that turned into a dreadful reality. The apocalypse suddenly seemed more tangible than ever, the war of Gog and Magog on our doorstep, doomsday, here and now.

It was indeed "conventional terror" according to the accepted definitions, but one with the effect of an atomic bomb, both because of the carnage it caused and the terror it aroused.

The hijacked planes hit the vital organs of the biggest, strongest empire in the world: the towers, like two giant missiles of the economic and judicial world of the United States, and the heart itself, the military nerve center in Washington. The wound is serious, and the shock is worldwide.

Now, history will test the newly elected rookie George Bush. With his abilities, which some claim to be fairly meager, he will have to bring the war to their doorstep, and with his leadership, which many hold in doubt, he will have to lift the American nation back up from the ground. The mission is great and broad, and it is feared that the shoulders which must bear it are narrow.

The Americans' immediate suspect is the terrorist Osama Bin-Laden and, along with him, countries that support terror, the Palestinians among them. Along with this, and though the chances seem slim, we must not forget that this was also the consensual verdict given by experts after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, until it was found that the perpetrators were home-grown American madmen. As of last night, to complicate things even further, the Japanese were in the picture too.

History proves that the wrath of America, even delayed, can be fearsome and terrible. As long as it is not proved otherwise, America's large Moslem community will need to go underground, and leaders of certain Middle Eastern countries will do well to go down into their bunkers.

The joyful dances of the Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank were, therefore, not only nauseating, but short-sighted as well. Israel, if it had such tendencies, now could do whatever it wished in the territories, and no one in America would bat an eyelash. "Just try and find us," the Americans will tell the Palestinians as they celebrate, and that could go on for a very long time.

Most Israelis, on the other hand, empathized with their brothers and sisters in distress, because this is our own hell magnified thousands of times, and it happened in New York, their alternate homeland. And the loss, to our great grief, will only become stronger in the coming days, when it becomes clear how many Jews were among the victims.

This article ran in Maariv on September 12, 2001

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

Implications of Terror Attack for Arafat
Prof Ehud Sprinzak

The terrible disaster in the United States is a dark and gloomy day for Arafat. Arafat has lost his most useful vehicle, since he used terror to try to make the world criticize Israel.

I am almost completely convinced that Osama Bin-Laden is responsible for the terror strike. If that is true, he is a dead man. I believe that there will be acts of war from the United States, but I do not believe that there will be any use of nuclear weapons, since there is no need for this.

I have come to the conclusion that no country, such as Iran, Iraq or Libya, would have dared to commit this act of terror. A strike like this against America would bring about the destruction of the government that committed it. It is in effect a massive declaration of war against the United States. If Saddam Hussein is found responsible for it, Baghdad will not stand intact for long and Hussein will be eliminated. If it is Bin-Laden, he will no longer be able to exist. I will be very surprised if any nation stands behind the attacks. Bin-Laden does not need the infrastructure of any other state.

The force of the attacks is surprising. It is a step up in terror. Instead of a car bomb, airplane bombs are used. The dreadful attack works in our favor in terms of public relations. From the perspective of the Jews, it is the most important public-relations act ever committed in our favor. The pictures are terrible, and they are better than a thousand ambassadors trying to explain how dangerous Islamic terror is.

The writer is an expert on terror and the dean of the Lauder School of Administration in the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

This artcile ran in Maariv on September 12, 2001

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

Go to the Israel Resource Review homepage

The Israel Resource Review is brought to you by the Israel Resource, a media firm based at the Bet Agron Press Center in Jerusalem, and the Gaza Media Center under the juristdiction of the Palestine Authority.
You can contact us on