NEW YORK (Dec. 2)
The memorial wall for victims of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center now includes condolences from the leader of the country that has suffered more terror than any other.
Following a ceremony last Friday with New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in front of the wreckage at Ground Zero, Israel’s prime minister wrote “Shalom From Jerusalem, Ariel Sharon,” and signed his name in Hebrew and English.
Later, taking questions from reporters, Sharon said peace is impossible as long as Palestinian Authority President Yasser “Arafat directs a policy of terror, violence and incitement.”
“We can live in peace with the Arabs — it’s not an easy thing — but it can only be done when the terror stops,” Sharon said.
That time seemed farther away than ever after a particularly bloody weekend, with at least 26 Israelis killed in terror attacks.
Ten were killed when two bombs went off Saturday night on a Jerusalem pedestrian mall, and an additional 15 were killed in a bus bombing in Haifa early Sunday afternoon. More than 200 people were wounded in both attacks.
In addition, an Israeli driver was shot and killed Sunday in the Gaza Strip.
The Ground Zero event marked the beginning of Sharon’s visit to the United States — a visit that was shortened by one day after the attacks.
On Sunday he met with President Bush in Washington. The meeting was held a day earlier than planned so Sharon could return to Israel to deal with the escalating security situation.
On Friday morning, Sharon presented Giuliani with a Jewish National Fund certificate announcing the dedication of 5,000 trees in American Independence Park, near Jerusalem, in honor of the victims of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
“Others destroy; we plant,” he said.
Also present were members of the New York Fire Department, New York Police Department and Port Authority Police Department.
Sharon also greeted Mor Levenhar, sister of Shai Levenhar, and Segal Shefi, widow of Hagai Shefi, both of whom died in the Sept. 11 attacks.
Sharon praised the courage and leadership of New Yorkers in the aftermath of the tragedy, and said, “Terrorism will be defeated. Democracies will win this war.”
It was an unseasonably warm morning and the smell of smoke and burning chemicals wafted on the breeze.
The sound of on-going clean-up work at Ground Zero drowned out much of Sharon’s speech to the Israeli and New York reporters assembled there.
Behind Sharon and Giuliani was the massive pit of rubble where rescue workers and dogs continue searching for bodies, and where workers are continuing to haul away debris.
Amid the ruins, the first few floors of the corner section of the north tower continue to stand.
The adjacent neighborhood of Battery Park City is something of a ghost town, with windows boarded up on luxury buildings, restaurants are closed for business and much of the glass ceiling collapsed on the once-bustling atrium of the World Financial Center.
Sharon was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai; Israel’s minister of culture, science and sport, Matan Vilnai; and Israel’s consul general in New York, Alon Pinkas.