12 September 2001
We at Yad Vashem mourn with deep sorrow the heavy loss of life as a result of the despicable acts of terror in the United States. We offer our sincerest condolences and express our solidarity with the American people and our friends at the American Society for Yad Vashem.
It is clear that the perpetrators of the heinous crimes committed in the United States were motivated by a hatred that runs so deep and so torrid that most of the world finds it incomprehensible. No single group has cornered the market on obsessive hatred. But today, a torrent of anti-Western, anti-democratic, anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli abuse is streaming forth from the most extreme pockets of Islamic fundamentalism. It is quite clear that the perpetrators of the attack on America belonged to such groups.
The demonization of the Jews by the Nazis was the prerequisite to their annihilation in the Holocaust. This barbaric act of gratuitous murder stands as a stark symbol of the danger of demonization. The purveyors of fanatical hatred demonize America as a symbol of a satanic culture, and at the Durban conference they sought to demonize Israel as well. In Nazi dominated Europe, words of hate culminated in the Holocaust. At Durban, words of hate were spoken, and in the United States, they were translated into despicable acts of mass murder; acts of contempt for the sanctity of human life and the constraints of civilized behavior.
During the Nazi period it took a long time for the world to take a stand – too long to save the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. With the ferocious terrorist attack on America, a wake up call has been sounded clearly. All people who believe in democracy and the sanctity of human life must take a stand against the agents of terror. As is written in the Bible: “I have given you a blessing and a curse. Choose life so you may live.” (Deuteronomy 30.19)