Sept. 11 Called 'Historic Warning Light to Democracies'

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:12 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - The terror attacks on the United States on Sept. 11 should have been a "historic warning light to democracies" around the world, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on Tuesday.

In his speech to cabinet ministers, Sharon referred to Sept. 11 as "a day on which the dark and dangerous forces threw down a challenge to the leadership of the free world and the values of liberty and democracy."

The terrorists who killed thousands of people from many different countries took advantage of freedom in the U.S. in order to attack it, Sharon said.

"It was an historic warning light to democracies, which are being called on to defend themselves against those who would assail them," Sharon said. "I hold U.S. President George Bush in the highest esteem for the true leadership that he showed in understanding the great historic challenge facing him.

"Israel, which has been engaged in a war against murderous terror since its independence to this very day, knows that there is no compromise in the war against terror. Any display of weakness in the battle against terror is destined to claim a heavy price," he said.

The free world's counter-assault against terror began actually began on Sept. 11, Sharon said. He added that he believes the campaign will end "in the complete victory of light over darkness."

Israel's President Moshe Katsav also offered his sympathies to the American people and the victims' families, and he warned against abandoning the fight against terrorism in a letter to President Bush.

"Throughout the past decade, the writing was on the wall," Katsav wrote. "However, many nations in the world ignored it.

"The danger of terrorism still hangs over the world. Its success in one place will encourage terrorist groups in others, and no country has immunity from terror. Only close cooperation between peace and freedom loving nations can lead to the annihilation of this evil," he said.

There are a plethora of memorial events being held here on Wednesday, the one-year anniversary, including full-day seminars at several higher-learning institutions, an interfaith conference, the opening of a photography exhibition showing the aftermath of Sept. 11 at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and special radio broadcasts.

The official state ceremony will begin at 3:46 p.m. Israel time, which will be 8:46 a.m. in the U.S. - the moment that the first plane slammed into the first World Trade Tower in New York City.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer is expected to attend. He will light the memorial candles.