Jewish World Review Sept. 13, 2001 /24 Elul, 5761

Paul Greenberg

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At war against an invisible enemy

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- G-d is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea ... -- Psalm 46

Don't tell me there is no such thing as evil in the world. It blares forth from us in the early morning, awakening the nation like a dark sun. Its works are there in the ash-covered streets of Manhattan, in the center of the nation's capital, in the strewn wreckage of a plane outside Pittsburgh, in the panicky calls and useless cell phones and the robotic answering-machine voice that says only, again and again: ``All circuits are busy now, please try your call later.''

Evil has struck, and you hear its echoes in the wail of sirens and see it in the disciplined rush of hospital emergency rooms, in the ululations of bloodthirsty crowds in the Middle East celebrating their macabre victory, and in the jumbled thoughts of a nation now going from shock and horror to calm, focused determination. Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.-- Franklin D. Roosevelt, December 8, 1941.

It was a day on which not just the skyline of a great city was altered, but American complacency. Again. We were confronted anew by the fragility of life and all we hold dear in it, and the realization of how precious it is, and how vulnerable. And how implacably it must be defended. No, never say there is no evil in the world. It has just struck, and now must be struck down. Just give us the strength, L-rd. Let the memory of this day forever gird us.

The United States is at war against an invisible enemy, and he operates in a darkness suddenly made visible. The only trace he leaves is panic, chaos, incredible loss and fear of the next attack. That is his greatest weapon -- fear -- and it will fail. It is not in Americans to cower.

Across the world, free nations rally to our side. The realization dawns that terror anywhere is terror everywhere. We are all Israelis now. There on the screen is Yasser Arafat explaining how ``shocking, completely shocking'' he finds an attack on innocent civilians, as if he would know nothing of such things.

But there is no time to dwell on such ironies, lest we be distracted from the business at hand. A posse of free nations needs to deliver an unmistakable message to whoever claims to be ruling Afghanistan at the moment: Give us Osama bin Laden alive or the leaders of the Taliban dead. It is a message we should have delivered after our embassies in Africa were destroyed. In this case, there are other suspects, but bin Laden and those who harbor him are at the top of the list. And we have just begun to search and destroy. Not only for bin Laden and his gang but all those who make terrorism possible.

Those first few hours after the horror at Oklahoma City engendered the same confusion, alarm and bewilderment. But after the shock, after the Breaking News on the screen and the Extras on the street, after the moment of paralysis and the start of a lifetime of grieving, the murderers were apprehended and one executed. So, too, must it be now. So, too, will it be now.

Not just our hearts but our resolve goes out to the souls living and dead most affected by this wanton act of cowardice. The purpose of terror, as an experienced terrorist named Lenin once explained, is to terrorize. But this Republic will not be terrorized. You can feel the resolve forming across the land, the horror hardening into resolve.

Across the harbor from the twin towers that are no more, away from the screeching sirens and hospital emergency rooms, the Statue of Liberty still holds her torch aloft, and if you look closely, you can see the eyes narrow, the great hand clench into a mighty fist: Liberty Aroused.

Already the inexpressible anger felt by every citizen of the Republic begins to concentrate itself in a cold, useful, organized fury. We will bury the dead, tend the injured, solace the mourners and clear away the only material losses. But we will not rest till justice is done, no matter how long it takes, so help us G-d.

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