Editorials are posted and archived on JN Online:
Remember 9-11 With A Mitzvah
he Aug. 14 e-mail we received promotes
wearing red, white and blue to work or
. school on Wednesday, Sept. 11, to show
support for the nearly 3,000 people who
died in the terrorist attacks, as well as to honor the
heroes who worked to save them and assist the fami-
lies they left behind.
The e-mail urges putting your hand on your heart
at noon that day and saying the Pledge of
Allegiance and a prayer for America, either
out loud or silently. Drive with your head-
lights on to further remember the victims,
the message adds.
"If all of us do this together in every time zone
around the world," it concludes, "we will have a
powerful chain of thoughts surrounding us."
The message is noble and the ideas are all good.
Together, they represent one way to join together
on the first anniversary of the
attacks that stole America's
innocence and brought the vio-
lence of Islamic extremists
Taking the time to perform a
mitzvah is another, especially
The mitzvah can take almost
any form — from brightening
the life of a senior citizen, to volunteering on behalf
of a local charity, to sending a special thought to the
family of one of the victims. What the mitzvah is
isn't as important as doing the mitzvah.
Unlike any other anniversary date in American
history, Sept. 11 will forever remind us of the horror
that terrorists can cause, and the vulnerability of our
nation no matter how alert we think we are. We
never thought the wanton assault on life
and property that so many foreign lands
have seen could touch our shores. We
never knew how deeply the violence could
damage the American psyche.
A special mitzvah would help reinforce our con-
nection as Americans to the toppling of New York
City's World Trade Center and the other acts of ter-
rorism by radicals committed to destroying the free-
doms that we enjoy.
An American flag is posted in the
rubble of the World Trade Center on
Sept. 13, 2001.
The Rule Of Law
o understand clearly the difference
between Israel, the only Mideast democra-
cy, and the Arab states that surround it,
pay attention to the trial of a terrorist
leader that started 10 days ago in Tel Aviv.
The accused is Marwan Barghouti, head of
Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah
faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization in
the West Bank. When Barghouti was captured April
15, he had been in charge of Tanzim and
the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, two of the
most violent death-dealing terrorist opera-
tions. He is charged with murder,
attempted murder and inciting to murder. The
prosecution says he repeatedly planned suicide
bombing and shooting attacks on Israelis and took
money from Arafat to train others in running ter-
Hundreds of Israelis, most of them civilians, are
dead and hundreds more wounded because of
Barghouti's direct actions, according to the prosecu-
tion, which is prepared to put two of his former
deputies on the witness stand to detail his culpability.
Because Israel is a democracy, Barghouti will get a fair
and public trial. He will be allowed to enter the court-
room — as he did last week — praising the intifada
[uprising] and declaring that it will be victorious.
Now, consider what would happen if the Palestinians
or any Arab state captured a top Israeli official — say,
someone whom it could prove had been responsible for
targeting the leaders of Tanzim or
al-Aqsa or Islamic Jihad.
For openers, the captive most
likely would have been lynched
immediately. Recall what hap-'
pened in Ramallah two years ago
when two Israel Defense Forces
reservists made a wrong turn:
they were beaten to death. Remember the photo of
the bloody Palestinian hands in thewindow.
But suppose the captive had been taken
to Palestinian Authority headquarters. The
most likely result would have been a secret
kangaroo-court trial, with no evidence save the
words of the prosecution and with no standards for
sentencing except what Arafat figured might pro-
duce adequate political rewards. Remember the four
Palestinians who were "convicted" by a military tri-
bunal in Ramallah when Israeli troops had Arafat's
The point is not the guilt or innocence of the
accused. Rather, the point is Israel's commitment to
a proper judicial process, to a rule of law that
respects the rights of the individual as well as the
needs of society and the desires of his victims and
their families. It is a process utterly lacking in the
West Bank and Gaza and equally absent in Islamic
states that say they are governed by the Koran, i.e.,
under shari'a [Islamic law] ..
Trying Barghouti is likely to be difficult for Israel.
In the not so distant past, Israel was negotiating
security issues with him, treating him as a responsi-
ble leader rather than vicious terrorist. And
Barghouti undoubtedly will try to take advantage of
the procedural safeguards of the judicial process to
press his cause that the intifada is a legitimate
response to what he sees as "occupation" and
oppression of the Palestinians. The judge already has
had to block him from trying to file charges against
the Jewish state.
Should- Barghouti be acquitted, the trial will be
cited as simply an effort by anti-peace forces to
stymie a workable solution to the violence. And if
he is convicted ; the sentencing could prove difficult
and certain to further anger the Palestinian terrorist
Nonetheless, the willingness of Israel to submit
itself to a visible, open courtroom with a verdict
based on evidence rather than political whim or
expediency is proof of why its form of government
is, as befits a Jewish state, a model for the region
and the world. ❑