(JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marked the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
“Today we mark 15 years since the terrorist attacks on 9/11. We remember the victims. We embrace their loved ones,” Netanyahu said Sunday at the beginning of the Cabinet meeting.
“We stand with our greatest ally, the United States of America, and with other partners in the battle against militant Islamic terrorism that spreads its fear, its dread, its murder, around the world. Our memories are long, our determination is boundless. Civilized societies must band together to defeat these forces of darkness, and I’m sure we will,” Netanyahu said, addressing the Cabinet in English.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed on Sept. 11, 2011 when two passenger jets slammed into each of the Twin Towers, or the World Trade Center. Another jet crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A fourth plane whose destination is believed to have been the Capitol crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after some of the 33 passengers on board attacked the hijackers.
Hundreds of Israeli police officers joined U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro at the Keren Kayemet LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund’s 9/11 memorial outside of Jerusalem.
“Fifteen years. Fifteen years have passed since that dreaded day. Each anniversary carries its own power, its own meaning. All make us deeply aware of what and who we lost, and of the responsibility that memory imposes on us,” Shapiro said during the ceremony co-sponsored by the U.S. embassy in Israel and KKL-JNF. “But this year, in a subtle but unmistakable way, our remembrances mark the transition of 9/11 from living memory into history.”
Five Israelis were among the nearly 3,000 victims of the 9/11 attacks. The JNF monument, called the 9/11 Living Memorial, is the only monument outside of the United States that lists the names of all the victims.
Shapiro continued: “Have we done enough to ensure that the next generation, and future generations, fully comprehend the calamity that befell us that day, the ways it changed us, and the responsibility it imposes on us?
“Israelis have repeatedly been faced with this question. They are a nation that has endured countless tragedies and more than one existential crisis, each of which shattered individual lives and stung an entire generation,” he said. “Where Israelis have excelled, and where we continue to learn from them, is in conveying the power of memory and history forward, so that each successive generation understands the meaning and the obligations that flow from events which they cannot personally recall.”
Other officials who attended the ceremony include former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jeremy Issacharoff and members of the diplomatic corps in Israel. Some 15 New York fire fighters and police officers, some of who were first responders on Sept. 11, 2001 at the Twin Towers, also attended the ceremony.
U.S. President Barack Obama remembered the national tragedy and its aftermath during his Weekly Radio address.
“A lot has changed over these past 15 years. We’ve delivered devastating blows to the al Qaeda leaders that attacked us on 9/11. We delivered justice to Osama bin Laden. We’ve strengthened our homeland security. We’ve prevented attacks. We’ve saved lives,” Obama said.
“At the same time, the terrorist threat has evolved, as we’ve seen so tragically from Boston to Chattanooga, from San Bernardino to Orlando. So in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and beyond, we’ll stay relentless against terrorists like al Qaeda and ISIL. We will destroy them. And we’ll keep doing everything in our power to protect our homeland, he said.
“In the face of terrorism, how we respond matters. We cannot give in to those who would divide us. We cannot react in ways that erode the fabric of our society. Because it’s our diversity, our welcoming of all talent, our treating of everybody fairly – no matter their race, gender, ethnicity, or faith – that’s part of what makes our country great. It’s what makes us resilient. And if we stay true to those values, we’ll uphold the legacy of those we’ve lost, and keep our nation strong and free.”