JERUSALEM (Feb. 12)
Israel is paying tribute to a group of members of the police and military who took part in rescue efforts following the Sept. 11 attacks.
A 12-member delegation from the New York Police Department and the U.S. Army arrived here for a weeklong visit sponsored by Israel’s Tourism Ministry and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
The group, including 11 men and one woman, received special citations Monday at a Jerusalem news conference and reception.
“You are a real source of inspiration to everybody,” Tourism Minister Binyamin Elon said. “I want to thank you for coming here,”
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents and one of the trip organizers, said the visit expressed the Israeli public’s support for the United States in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“Israel was the first country to hold a blood drive” for victims of the attacks “and a national day of memorial,” Hoenlein said. “The things that unite us are positive — commitment to democracy, to liberty, to values we hold in common. Now we have the negative that unites us — the war against what President Bush calls ‘the forces of evil.’ “
Delegation members spoke of Israel as a role model for dealing with terror.
Lt. Phyllis Byrus of the New York Police Department said Israel offered a positive example for dealing with terror, “because people go on living their lives.”
During the visit, the participants were scheduled to meet with Israeli government officials, police and other rescue workers, visit religious sites and tour northern Israel.
Prior to the trip, Lt. Lee Mackalowe of the NYPD said he had wanted to visit Israel long before the Sept. 11 attacks.
“You can’t imagine how glad I am to be here,” he said.
A group of Jerusalem school children who met with delegation members at the news conference asked Mackalowe what it feels like to be a hero.
“The people who are heroes are the people buried under the rubble, the firemen, all the police officers, all the emergency medical technicians, all the people who just went to work” and had “no clue they would be victims of a mass homicide by madmen,” he said. “Those are the true heroes.”