U.S. Caves to Turkey’s Demand
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has been critical of the Obama Administration’s recent excluding of Israel from two counter-terrorism conferences held with a large number of long-standing U.S. allies, first in Istanbul, Turkey, in June and again in Madrid, Spain last week. This fits a pattern of excluding or leaving out Israel that has characterized the Obama Administration.
The ZOA views this exclusion of Israel as grotesque and tragically ironic in view of reports yesterday that terrorists bombed a bus carrying Israeli tourists at Sarafovo Airport in Burgas, Bulgaria, killing seven, and wounding over 30, according to reports. (The attack came on the 18th anniversary of the Iran-sponsored terrorist attack on the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994, in which 87 people were killed and over 100 maimed and injured).
Reports indicate that Israel’s exclusion by the Obama Administration from the State Department’s Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) came about at the behest of Turkey’s Islamist, vociferously anti-Israel Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to an Israeli report, “Israel tried hard to obtain an invitation to the meeting, and its exclusion, despite the tight US-Israeli intelligence ties, has greatly disappointed officials in Jerusalem” (Ran Dagoni, ‘US excludes Israel from anti-terror forum because of Turkey,’ Globes, June 10, 2012).
Established in September 2011, the GCTF’s aim, according to its website, is to help countries at the forefront in the fight against terrorism to share their “experiences, expertise, strategies” and to reduce the vulnerability of people everywhere to terrorism by effectively preventing, combating, and prosecuting terrorist acts and countering incitement and recruitment to terrorism.
The GCTF has 30 members, of which 10 are Muslim countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Of these four, only Algeria lacks at present an Islamist government. Saudi Arabia has spread its pernicious Wahhabi jihadist ideology which has inspired numerous Islamist terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda.
At the Istanbul conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “Terrorists now hold territory in Mali, Somalia, and Yemen. They are carrying out frequent and destabilizing attacks in Nigeria and the Maghreb. Here in Turkey, the PKK continues its long campaign of terror and violence, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives” (‘Opening Remarks at the Global Counterterrorism Forum,’ June 7, 2012). Secretary Clinton said nothing in her speech about the thousands of Israeli lives lost to Arab terrorism over the years.
In Madrid this week, Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, Maria Otero spoke of the meeting as being a “high-level conference on the victims of terrorism,” but, like Secretary Clinton the previous month, also made no reference to Israel among the countries named that had suffered terrorist attacks (‘Victims of Terrorism,’ July 9, 2012).
Dr. Dore Gold, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, has said, “Israel has been one of the key counterterrorism allies of the United States for 30 years … Its absence from an American-sponsored counter-terror conference raises questions that need to be answered” (‘Obama’s Exclusion of Israel at Counter-Terror Conference Rates Concern,’ Algemeiner Journal, July 15, 2012).
Previous examples of Obama omitting Israel:
- 2008: When running for President, then-Senator Obama said in his Berlin speech, “we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York” (‘Obama Speech Transcript: Remarks of Senator Barack Obama (as prepared for delivery) “A World that Stands as One,” Berlin, Germany, July 24, 2008).
- 2010: President Obama conspicuously omitted mention of Israel’s sterling contribution to relief efforts in the wake of Haiti’s terrible January 2010 earthquake. Although Israel’s relief efforts were exceptional, only matched by those of the United States, and were in fact singled out for warm praise by former President Bill Clinton, President Obama said only that “help continues to flow in, not just from the United States but from Brazil, Mexico, Canada, France, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, among others” (‘President Obama’s Remarks After His Call with Haitian President Préval,’ White House Blog, January 15, 2010).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “It is deeply worrying that the Obama Administration continues to omit mention of Israel when speaking officially, especially in international forums, on important themes like international terrorism.
“Israel has been a primary target of Islamist and Arab terrorist organizations for decades, with special intensity in the past twelve years. Over 1,500 Israelis have been murdered by terrorists in this period and thousands more wounded and maimed. In fact, in per capita terms, far more Israelis have been murdered by terrorists than Americans were murdered in 9/11. The scenes of repeated terrorist carnage on Israeli streets are, tragically, all too familiar to all of us.
“The issue of Israel’s exclusion is wider than the subject of Palestinian terrorism. We are speaking of a Middle East in which no official Arab map displays a country called ‘Israel,’ not even within the 1949 armistice lines; in which the Palestinian Authority says that no Jew will be allowed to live in a future Palestinian state; in which neither the Palestinians nor any Arab state accepts Israel’s existence as a Jewish state; and in which Hamas, the Palestinian off-shoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, calls in its Charter for the world-wide murder of Jews.
“It is therefore hard to believe that mere oversight accounts for the omission of any mention of Israel among the notable victims of terrorism by both Secretary Clinton and Under Secretary Otero in the two recent counter-terrorism conferences – all the more so, when the Obama Administration has chosen to convene these conferences without Israeli participation.
“As we saw in the earlier examples cited, President Obama will avoid mentioning Israel in a favorable or sympathetic context even when such an omission is glaring. Sadly, it would seem that President Obama is willing to exclude Israel from the common concern of mankind in confronting and memorializing the terrorism of which he speaks. Worse, such omission implies that those who murder and maim Israelis are not terrorists. He knows only too well that Arab and Muslim societies, in the main, hate the Jewish state of Israel and do not regard the murder of Jews as terrorism. Rather than confronting that ugly fact and challenging those who subscribe to such heinous views, he prefers not to offend their sensibilities.
“There are many words that can describe this sort of sin of omission, but ‘leadership,’ ‘honesty’ and ‘moral courage’ are not among them.”