It’s a privilege to be here. Thanks you Jonathan Davis for that introduction. And thank ICT Executive Director Dr. Boaz Ganor for the invitation to address you tonight, on the 10th year anniversary of the September 11 attacks. I’m honored to be here with Honorable Congressman Trent Franks, and Los Angeles Country Sherriff Lee Baca.
Ten years ago today, at this very hour, the details of the horrific attacks on America were still not fully known. Fires still burned at the Pentagon, in lower Manhattan, and in a field in Pennsylvania.
Ten years ago today, at this very hour, when New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was asked to estimate the number of casualties at the World Trade Center in Manhattan, he replied, “More than any of us can bear.”
Ten years ago today, at this very hour, loved ones were printing pictures of their missing parents, partners, children, and friends; vigils were forming at the New York Armory at Lexington Avenue, at 26th Street and Union Square Park, and on Broadway Ave.
Ten years ago today, 2,977 innocent people were murdered. They were Americans and Israelis. Japanese, Indian, British, South Korean, and Canadian. Over 90 countries lost citizens on 9/11. They were fathers and mothers, raising their families; brothers and sisters, pursuing their dreams; sons and daughters who had their whole lives before them. Some never saw the danger coming; others saw the peril and rushed to save others — up those stairwells, into the flames, into the cockpit.
On this day, it’s perhaps natural to focus on the images of that awful morning — images that are seared into our souls. It’s tempting to dwell on the final moments of the loved ones whose lives were taken so cruelly. Equally important, though, is to remember what happened on September 12, 13, 14 and on. As we mourned and consoled one another, we cleaned up the streets, we resumed commerce and business, we sent our kids to school, and, importantly, we began to rebuild.
Today, architects and construction workers are rebuilding One World Trade Center at the site where the Twin Towers once stood. The new building will be taller than what the terrorists destroyed. And the damaged section of the Pentagon has long since been rebuilt; it is stronger than what the terrorists destroyed.
We did not allow these attacks and the threat of terror to permanently take over our streets and buildings, places of worship, schools and homes, the infrastructure of day-to-day life and community. We are more resilient.
Terrorists bent on killing civilians and wreaking havoc in our societies do not give up. So we must be even more determined than they are and pursue them to the end. And that is what the United States did on May 1st of this year when President Obama ordered, and U.S. Special Forces successfully carried out, the operation that found and killed Osama bin Laden.
The United States was profoundly changed by the 9/11 attacks. And for my generation of foreign policy and national security professionals, the searing memory of the terrible losses we suffered the day is a driving force in our work to make America and the world safer and to prevent the recurrence of such terrible attacks.
And we have improved our capabilities and redoubled our determination, standing shoulder to shoulder with our allies and partners around the world. And no other country has had to cope with the constant threat of terror more than our partner, Israel.
Israelis shared our mourning on September 11. I want to especially recognize the work of Dov Shefi. Dov lost his son Haggay in the September 11 attacks. Since then, he has been working tirelessly to preserve the memory of his son and all the victims of 9/11.
Earlier today, I spoke at the 9/11 “Living Memorial” in the Arazim Valley overlooking the rolling hills of Jerusalem. That memorial was erected in no small part as a result of Dov Shefi’s work. The memorial is not only a memorial for all those lost in 9/11, but a symbol of the enduring U.S.-Israel relationship.
Israelis understand on a deeper level just how easy it is for terrorists to instill fear and overturn our way of life. They also know that this fearful reaction is exactly what we must avoid in order to prevent terrorism from claiming even more victims.
That is why from airport security, to intelligence matters, to bureaucratic restructuring, we continue to learn and grow from Israel’s experiences.
And I am proud that under the Obama Administration, our security relationship with Israel is broader, deeper, and more intense than ever before. We know that many of the threats the United States faces, are threats to Israel.
It’s equally true that many of the threats Israel faces, America faces also. Our partnership with Israel ensures that in the face of terrorism, both our countries are stronger and our citizens are safer.
The U.S.-Israel partnership and America’s investment in Israel’s security directly supports Israel’s ability to defend itself, by itself. It allows Israel to purchase and develop the sophisticated defense equipment it needs to protect itself, deter aggressors, and maintain its qualitative military edge.
The U.S. and Israel also share security dialogues and exchanges in political, military and intelligence channels to discuss regional security matters and counter-terrorism, sharing information that can and does save lives. We have re-energized structured dialogues such as the U.S.-Israel Joint Political-Military Group and the Defense Policy Advisory Group, to name a few.
In these dialogues and in countless day-to-day contacts between the security-related officials of both countries, we discuss a wide range of current security concerns, many of which you are discussing at this conference.
From procurement to counter-terrorism to homeland security techniques to regional developments our partnership provides an opportunity for our governments to share perspectives on policies, address mutual concerns, explain threat perceptions, and identify new areas for cooperation.
We share information on Hamas weapons smuggling, Hezbollah’s arsenal, the movement of Al-Qaeda operatives, terrorists financing networks, and the state sponsorship of terrorism by Syria and Iran. We develop and execute joint strategies to counter these threats and jointly approach other governments to enlist their support.
In addition, we continue to work on innovative technology to combat the threat and reality of terrorism. We need to ensure that we are using science and technology to our best advantage.
That is why, in addition to the over $3 billion in military assistance that the U.S. will provide Israel in the coming fiscal year, we also continue to work closely on the development of innovative technology, like missile defense.
We have worked together on the Arrow system, are working to develop the David’s Sling system, and as you know, Congress, at the request of President Obama, provided $205 million to accelerate production and deployment of the Iron Dome short-range missile system, a project to which I devoted particular attention during my tenure at the White House. And the recent rocket attacks in southern Israel were a stark reminder of why the U.S.-Israel partnership is so critical.
The last ten years have shown us that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is stronger than random acts of terror. In their daily lives and activities, Israelis and Americans alike demonstrate time and again that democracy and civic engagement far outweigh random, senseless acts of terror.
וברשותכם אני אוסיף כמה מילים בעברית. בשבילי ובשביל העמיתים שלי והאזרחים האמריקאים האחרים כאן, יש זכות גדולה לזכור את ההתקפות של 11-לספטמבר בישראל. לדעתי, בכל העולם, אין עם שמבין את הכאב שלנו ואין עם שיכול לעזור לנו להמשיך לחיות ולבנות מחדש יותר מעם ישראל. בזמנים קשים וכבדים, הקשר המוסרי בינינו מחזק את שנינו.
To repeat in English: For me and for my colleagues and the other Americans here, there is a great privilege to remember the September 11 attacks in Israel. In my opinion, in the whole world, there is no people who understands our pain and no people who can help us continue to live and to rebuild more than the people of Israel. In difficult times, the moral bond between us strengthens both of us.
Ten years ago today, at this very hour, America and the world were engulfed with shock and horror at the events that had just taken place. Today, we are stronger, smarter, and as resilient as ever. Thank you.