Whatever tensions may exist between Jerusalem and Washington at the moment, there was a show of unity this week as Israeli leaders and American officials came together to unveil a 9/11 memorial. With that, Jerusalem became one of the first cities outside the U.S. with a memorial to 9/11 victims.
Visitors of Arazim Park in Jerusalem cannot miss the monument. It includes a sculpture that stands 30-feet high, and is composed of a waving American flag transformed into a memorial flame — standing on a granite grey base that uses some material from the original Twin Towers. The sculpture was donated by Edward Blank, a Jewish man from New York whose wife died a few days before 9/11 and who saw it as a good way to “recognize the many feelings I was having.”
The sculpture lies within a large plaza, which contains the names of everyone who died as a result of the terror attacks. There are benches to sit and reflect.
The memorial was not an initiative of the Israeli government, but rather of the Jewish National Fund-USA/Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael. Nevertheless, the government was represented at the ceremony by the likes of minister Benny Begin. And donors of the monument, in their speeches, presented it as an initiative that binds the two countries on a leadership level.
Relations of victims voiced similar sentiments. Israel Defense Forces Brigadier General (Ret.) Dov Shefi, whose 34-year-old son Hagay was killed on 9/11 while addressing a conference of bankers at the Windows of the World restaurant on the 106th Floor of the North Tower, said that the memorial “symbolizes the identification of the State of Israel, of J.N.F. and the donors, with the thousands of families of the victims of September 11th throughout the world, with the United States and with the City of New York.”