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OPENING EVENT REMARKS AMBASSADOR JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM ICT’s 10th ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE THE NTERDISCIPLINARY CENTER (IDC), HERZLIA SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 7:40 p.m.
Deputy Prime Minister Ya’alon, Prof. Reichman, Dr. Ganor, Mr. Davis, friends and colleagues.
I would like to thank the Interdisciplinary Center for inviting me to the opening of the ICT’s. This marks my third year in a row with you and it is an honor. I commend all of you for the work you do, and for your continuing commitment to the challenge of countering terrorism. Your work only continues to grow in importance.
I also would like to thank you for allowing me to participate in this remembrance of the victims of terrorism from September 11, and from other acts of terror, no matter where they occurred around the world. As we saw in this region recently, it is unfortunately true that there are those who continue to resort to murder in order to prevent those who desire peace from succeeding.
For America, September 11 was a singular moment that shaped how Americans think and react to the world around them
In the United States yesterday, people gathered in New York, in Washington and on a windswept hill outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to remember those we lost on September 11, what we as a country lost, and yes, what we’ve found in the days and years since. We’ve seen people, nations and religions come together in the struggle to defeat terror. And President Obama yesterday reminded Americans and our friends around the world that we need to remember who we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for. Our enemies, he said, respect no freedom or religion, and Al Qaeda’s cause is not Islam.
As some of you know, I have intensely personal connection to September 11, as I was serving as the Acting Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN.
I remember the shock and horror I felt as I saw on TV in my office, across the street from the UN, the second plane strike the Twin Towers.
I remember the disbelief and inability to comprehend what had happened, and why, as I spent the next several hours on the phone with officials in New York and Washington trying to determine our immediate reactions.
I remember looking out my window to see the pitch dark plumes of smoke rising to defile a beautiful blue New York City sky, as U.S. Air Force fighters circled overhead affording protection to Manhattan below.
And I remember hearing the sirens of our brave police, fire, and medical services personnel as they rushed to the scene, valiantly prepared to give their lives in the effort to save those trapped beneath the broken concrete, twisted steel and shattered glass.
It wasn’t until September 12 that we finally gained some semblance of understanding of the magnitude of destruction wrought the previous day. More than 3,000 persons from over 90 countries were murdered on September 11 in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.
Now, nine years later, it remains necessary to demonstrate that not just Americans but people of good will around the world will not be intimated, that our resolve remains firm, and that international will and cooperation in confronting terror is strong and constant. For this extremism is directed not just at the United States, but at the values we espouse and which animate the charter of the United Nations.
I do not believe we are not engaged in a clash of civilizations. We are engaged rather in a clash between a global civilization which is politically, culturally and religiously diverse, but shares many common values and aspirations, and a radical enemy eager to use terror and the death of innocents as a political tool. It is a clash we have not asked for but cannot avoid, and one which we must prosecute for years to come.
Two days after September 11, I told the General Assembly “Because this attack struck at all of us, it is right that we should work toward a coalition to defend our shared values against terrorism.” We have done great things since then, and this conference serves as testimony to international commitment.
Three or four days after 9/11, I took my daughters, in their early teens, to Canal Street, which was the closest one could get to Ground Zero. There was still a stench in the air, and hundreds were still wandering the area looking, hoping against hope that a missing loved one would be in a hospital or taking shelter with a friend. Tears were commonplace. I wanted my daughters to have a personal memory of the tragedy, because we are in for a long and arduous fight. While terror is proximate and real for many around the world, for many others it is not a clear and present danger – until unfortunately it happens to them.
So today we honor our dead, and promise justice to those that took our loved ones from us and continue to do so. Remembrance gives us direction and renews our faith in this necessary struggle.
I am grateful to those Israelis who have commemorated all the victims of 9/11 with memorials throughout Israel. I thank you for joining us and others around the world in this fight – one that we cannot afford to lose.
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