Rudy Giuliani is a “tough guy.” He shoots from the hip,” loves his scotch, and has opinions which often ruffle political feathers.
As mayor of New York City on the infamous day of 9/11/2001 when Terrorists hijacked American passenger planes and flew them into the twin towers in New York, he had to be stronger than the rest of us. We could cry and allow ourselves to experience the trauma of the event. He had to deal immediately with its aftermath. He had little time to mourn. He had to bring his city together, attend burial after burial and arrange care for the families of firefighters, police and civilians murdered on that day. Over 3,000 died from the attacks of 9/11 thus he had 3,000 families to assist and a grieving nation. He had just returned from Israel and had learned much from what he witnessed in person, after the Sbarro pizza shop bombing in Jerusalem’s bustling city center just four weeks before.
A man with that kind of personal experience was the perfect leader to address serious supporters of the “One Family” organization in Jerusalem last week on the issue of assisting the victims of terror. Giuliani knows better than most living outside of Israel just how hard it is to rebuild shattered lives after terrorism strikes.
Marc Belzberg’s welcoming remarks on behalf of himself and his wife Chantal, whom together began the One Family Organization in Jerusalem, spoke of the two responsibilities faced in the aftermath of tragedy. The first need is resolving the immediate crisis of the moment, and then there is the long-term trauma, physical and emotional recovery. ”One Family” exists to assist those affected by terrorism, for as long as they are needed. This is a commitment like no other on record. Their work includes financial assistance, psychological counseling, medical physiotherapy, group events, educational and travel opportunities. Years ago, I volunteered with One Family and became aware of the requests which came in hourly for assistance and the allocation process of the organization. Losing a parent can leave a family in difficulties never imagined by any of us. For those who survived physically damaged from these attacks… blinded, brain damaged, a living being with bullets and ball bearings lodged in impossible -to-remove areas, wheelchair bound, or missing a limb….these massive physical traumas resulting from Terrorist acts are less publicized than the death counts. These life-long conditions require support for the remainder of many thousands of lives. Knowing the suffering of these innocents… how can one ever think of any Islamic Fundamentalist terrorist as a victim?
In its 17 years since inception, “One Family” has helped more than 15,000 individuals related to 4,000 family members — impacted directly by multiple Terrorist attacks in the State of Israel. Compare that to the 3,000 individuals who were killed in the 9/11 attacks, and one can begin to sense the enormity of what the organization has undertaken. In this tiny nation of eight million people, there have been more families traumatized by Islamic Fundamentalist terrorism than the United States experienced in its entire history. Unfortunately for Israel, the numbers increase with every passing day.
Because of Giuliani’s understanding of the very real international Islamic terrorist threat, he visited Israel immediately after the Jerusalem Bus 18 bombing in 1986. He returned again at the invitation of then Mayor Ehud Olmert — in 2011, after the Sbarro restaurant bombing- to show his support for what Israelis have suffered repeatedly. His respect for Israel is clear and his view of the mistakes of American past Presidents is unapologetic. He blames then President Bill Clinton for imbuing Yasser Arafat with unwarranted respect-helping to establish the illusion that Arafat was a man who wanted peace, when in fact he was a proven murderer and a fraud. Giuliani proclaimed that the State of Israel has done more for the Palestinian people than the Palestinian Authority ever did.
The essence of Rudy’s philosophy is that if one wants to accomplish change, one needs to be proactive and unafraid. When he decided to clean up the crime in New York, he did not wait for others to look for excuses as to why it would be an impossibility. When he fought the American mafia he did so in spite of great personal risk.
His political journey has been complicated and unexpected. Giuliani began politics as an ardent Democrat. With time and experience he found himself running as an independent…then moving to the Republican party. Even within the right wing of politics he shifted from running for the Presidency himself in 2008 to supporting the candidacy of John McCain for President. Now that John McCain and President Trump have become adversaries, Rudy has moved away from McCain in dramatic fashion.
As President Trump’s primary legal advisor, Giuliani is constantly in the public eye. He is interviewed on television daily, and is often in the center of a media onslaught for what they consider to be ill-chosen words or socially unacceptable statements. This is a man who has proven his worth over years of action to the benefit of the citizens of the United States. He has been at the forefront of fighting Terrorism and crime in the United States. He is not likely to worry about political correctness after all that he has experienced.
Giuliani tells a tale about then President Ronald Regan whose adoring wife Nancy could not understand why her husband read the New York Times opinion columns every day. Regan’s reported response was- “I need to read them, so that I will know that when I do the opposite, I am making the right decision!” This pretty much sums up Giuliani’s feeling about the Press as well. Even as I write this article, he is at the center of a flurry of irritated media analysts. We all tend to forget that it is not easy to be in the public eye. What is said “off the cuff” becomes tomorrow’s headlines. Who among us measures every word and emotional outburst?
Giuliani recalls that after 9/11 there were virtually no terror attacks in the United States. Much of this was a result of intensified prevention and information sharing. He recounts that all changed when President Obama was elected. He concluded that in the process of seeing a new American President on the defensive- apologizing for what America had become, the terrorists perceived a weakness and became emboldened. He praised Prime Minister Netanyahu for prioritizing the security of his citizens – for having developed multiple fronts to stop terrorist acts before they can be perpetrated.
The Mayor made a grand statement about what unites Americans and Israelis. He said that they both have “big hearts.” That both are willing to embrace their enemies regardless of their horrific pasts, if only they will stop teaching their own people to hate and kill us. To the Western mind this seems a simple requirement. To the Islamic Fundamentalist terrorists, it is seen as folly.
Rudy Giuliani credits Israel as having paved the way for him personally. Having flown to Israel to see firsthand how Israel united after her own bus terror attacks in 1986, and then again after the Sbarro bombing on August 9, 2001 he fully understood the critical need for crisis management in order to help his own citizens. Lessons learned were implemented just one month later when the World Trade Center towers were destroyed and the lives of all Americans were changed forever.
For Giuliani, Israel is a perfect match with his own ideology. A nation which stands up proud … a people who support one another and a Prime Minister who defends his citizens against terrorism.
The connection of Rudy Giuliani and the “One Family” supporters brought together under one banner was a perfect fit. A room full of people who never give in…who will always be strong… and who know that in times of crisis, our citizens will be always there to help one another. A mutual vision like that is about as good as it gets.