Standing in the shadow of Israel’s memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attacks on the 11th anniversary of the tragedy, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel B. Shapiro vowed that the United States would not permit Iran to be armed with a nuclear weapon.
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“An Iran armed with a nuclear weapon is an unacceptable threat, and we will not permit it to be realized,” Shapiro declared at a ceremony at Jerusalem’s Arazim Park, in the presence of 200 guests that included parents of Israeli victims of the attacks.
The ambassador’s comments – in a 15-minute speech that included a symbolic Hebrew citation from the Talmud about the preservation and sanctity of life – appeared aimed at calming Israeli nerves two days after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a radio interview that the White House would not set down “deadlines” in its discussions with Iran about its disputed nuclear program.
Her comments were interpreted in diplomatic circles as a resounding rejection of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s public call last week for the international community to delineate “red lines.”
Shapiro said the U.S.-Israel alliance “remains unshakable and includes a shared commitment to counter today's threats – the threat of terrorist organizations that fire missiles at civilians, the threat of extremists who seek to wreck peace treaties and perpetuate conflict and the threat of the terrorist sponsoring regime in Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon,” he said.
Then, switching from English to fluent Hebrew, the ambassador said: “It appears to me that there is no more appropriate place to remember those we lost on September 11 than Israel. For in all the world there is no nation that better understands our pain, and there is no nation that better identifies with our experience than Israel.”
Shapiro noted that on September 11, 2001, he had been working in Washington, where terrorists also struck with an attack on the Pentagon.
Shapiro said the bond between the United States and Israel “grows stronger and we are more unified” because of the two countries’ “shared experience with terror victims and our shared struggle against terrorism.”
Shapiro paid tribute to the five Israeli victims of the 9/11 attacks and cited each of their names as he stood next to the 10-meter high bronze sculpture of an American flag transformed into a flame that lists the names of the nearly 3,000 victims who died in the attacks. The memorial, which includes a metal beam from the wreckage of the Twin Towers, was erected by the Jewish National Fund in 2009.
Also speaking at the ceremony was Brig. Gen. (ret.) Dov Shefi, who lost his 34-year-old son in the attack. Hagay Shefi, the head of a New Jersey high-tech firm and the father of two small children, was the keynote speaker at a banker’s conference on the 106th floor of the Twin Towers on the morning of 9/11, when the two hijacked planes smashed into the buildings.