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Thought of the Day

Last updated: 2003-09-11

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's 'Thought for the Day' to mark the second anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, the Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks said:

Today is the second anniversary of 9/11 2001, the day that changed the world, and which of us will ever forget it? Looking back on that day two years ago I think of the courage, the heroism, the simple humanity it called forth. I think of the New York firemen, so many of whom lost their lives saving lives. I think of the passengers on the fourth plane, Flight 93, who fought back and crashed their plane into a field so that others would not die, and of the thousands who tended the wounded, comforted the bereaved, and gave shelter to those who were stranded. It was they who in the midst of terror gave birth to hope, because compassion runs deeper than hate, and the human instinct for freedom will always eventually win against those whose idea of conflict resolution is to kill those with whom they disagree.

But terror has not yet been defeated. Since then there have been deadly attacks in India, Pakistan, Tunisia, the Philippines, Bali, Mombassa, Yemen, Kuwait, Casablanca, and the list goes on. Thirty six hours ago a friend of my brother was sitting in a café in Jerusalem. His name was David Appelbaum, a hero who dedicated his life to saving the lives of others. He headed Jerusalem's emergency medical service treating all victims of terror, regardless of race or creed. Yesterday should have been the happiest day of his life. His daughter was getting married, and the night before the ceremony he had taken her out for a coffee when the bomb went off. Yesterday instead of the wedding, both of them were buried.

If anything is evil, terror is. It strikes the young, the old, the innocent. It is destruction for destruction's sake. It never achieved anything that could not have been achieved by diplomacy or peaceful protest. And terrorists always end up harming their own people and their cause. One who dies for the sake of faith is called a martyr. But one who kills for the sake of faith is a blasphemer, because he or she desecrates the one thing on which God has set his image, life itself. And so, two years later the world still needs our prayers: for comfort for the bereaved and healing for the wounded. Above all, it needs all of us to say in the name of our respective faiths that deliberate killing of the innocent is evil, whoever does it, whoever it is done against. Terror must be defeated in the human heart if it is to be defeated in our suddenly vulnerable world.

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