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'Israel being excluded from counterterrorism parley'
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
07/16/2012
Simon Wiesenthal Center founder: I’m prepared to believe Israel is being left out intentionally from Global Counterterrorism Forum.
 
Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder and dean of the human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center, charged the US-sponsored Global Counterterrorism Forum of deliberately excluding Israel from a second meeting of the group that took place in Spain last week.

In a strongly worded letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Hier wrote that “when there was criticism following your announcement of the creation of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, which excluded Israel, I accepted the administration’s assurances that a way would be found to involve Israel. But after reading the Victims of Terrorism comments from the undersecretary of civilian security democracy and human rights, I’m prepared to believe that Israel is being left out intentionally.”

Maria Otero, the undersecretary referred to in Hier’s letter, delivered a speech entitled “Victims of Terrorism” on July 9 in Madrid at the Global Counterterrorism Forum and failed to mention Israel as a country that has experienced terrorism.

“Last September at the official launch of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, I had the privilege to introduce the premier of a film ‘Hear their Voices,’ which tells the stories of eleven survivors of terrorist attacks from Pakistan, Jordan, Northern Ireland, Uganda, Turkey, Indonesia, India, Spain, Columbia [sic] and the United States,” she said.

“The film, which was produced by the Global Survivors Network, is a powerful plea for audiences around the world, especially those sympathetic to the grievances expressed by extremists, to recognize the human cost of terrorism and I am delighted that our Spanish hosts are planning on showing this film here later this afternoon.”

In June, the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s first formal meeting in Istanbul excluded Israel and invited countries with a history of sponsoring radical Islamic ideology.

A telling example was the presence of Saudi Arabia at the meeting. The kingdom’s government embraces and spreads the radical Wahhabist ideology to which many terrorists adhere.

The lack of Israel’s presence at the Istanbul event raised eyebrows, largely because Israel has a long track record of combating terrorism.

Critics chalked up the absence of Israel to the opposition of Turkey and its influence on the Obama administration.

Rabbi Marvin Hier wrote, “I am well aware that Turkey, one of the L of the forum is in opposition to an Israeli presence, but with all due respect to Turkey or any other country, the forum was created by the United States and Israel is amongst the United States’ most reliable and trusted allies.”

Hier continued by saying that “having a global counterterrorism forum and not including Israel, is like having a global technology conference and excluding the United States of America. There is no one with more experience at combatting terrorism or educating civilians about it than the State of Israel. I think the time has come for the United States to make it very clear why Israel continues to be excluded.”

Asked by AP reporter Matthew Lee last week at a State Department briefing “why [Otero] doesn’t mention Israel or Israelis in her comments talking about victims of terrorism,” Patrick Ventrell, a State Department spokesman, seemed to stumble for an answer before replying, “I don’t have the details of the undersecretary’s speech.”

The reporter pointed out to Ventrell that Maria Otero’s speech is on the State Department website.

In an extensive Washington Free Beacon news outlet report titled “Israel’s Plight Ignored” on the Obama administration’s refusal to include Israel in the forum, the Beacon quoted Josh Block, a Democratic strategist and former spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), saying, “When the administration promised to include Israel in the counterterrorism forum that the United States founded – after Jerusalem’s inexplicable exclusion from the initial meeting a month ago – one would think they would be true to their word.”

“Clearly someone failed here. How Israel could be excluded from another meeting of an anti-terror forum that we chair is beyond comprehension, especially one that focuses on victims of terrorism,” he added.

Block noted that, as Israel’s exclusion comes “at a time when Romney is challenging the administration’s record on US-Israel relations, this error stands out.”

Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut) and Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) also wrote to Clinton in June expressing disappointment of “the absence of our ally, Israel, from the Global Counterterrorism Forum, which you attended in Istanbul last week.”
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