Obama hasn't got Israel's back on counterterrorismIf this is what it's like before the election, imagine what it could be like - God forbid - after the election in a second Obama term.
I have mentioned previously that the Obama administration excluded Israel from the first meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum in Istanbul last month in order to placate President Obama's Best Friend Forever, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. On Monday, it got worse.
Israel was excluded from a meeting of the same forum in Spain, and Maria Otero, the State Department’s Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, gave a speech about 'victims of terrorism' that just happened to omit the Zionist entity from the list of victims. All of this happened despite what the Washington Free Beacon's Adam Kredo describes as 'pleas' from Senators on Capitol Hill.
Congressional sources and regional experts say that the Obama administration is intentionally downplaying Israel’s struggle with terrorism in order to appease and gain the cooperation of Arab nations that are often hostile to the Jewish state.Tuesday's State Department briefing is not on video. Tuesday's briefing was given by Patrick Ventrell, who is the director of media relations. He sparred with Matthew Lee, the AP reporter who embarrassed Victorian Nuland a few months ago by asking where the capital of Israel is. Here's part of the transcript:
A congressional source told the Free Beacon Tuesday that the State Department confirmed to inquiring members of Congress that Israel was in fact excluded from the conference.
“The State Department told us that only the 29 original member countries were involved—and that means no Israel,” said the source.
During yesterday’s gathering, Israel was also excluded again from a list of nations recognized by the U.S. for their efforts to deal with terrorism.
“Last September at the official launch of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, I had the privilege to introduce the premiere 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, and the United States,” Otero said before the gathering of nations.
“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,” she added.
Experts say the omission of Israel was intentional.
“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,” said Josh Block, a Democratic strategist and former spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “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.”
“At a time when Romney is challenging the administration’s record on U.S.-Israel relations, this error stands out,” he added.
QUESTION: All right. And then going back to the question I raised yesterday about the Global Counterterrorism Forum --It doesn't sound like Mr. Ventrell really wants to answer the question, does it? I wonder what will happen today.
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- did you get an answer on that?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, as you know, as we said at the time, Matt, that our idea with the Global Counterterrorism Forum was to bring together a limited number of traditional donors, frontline states, and emerging powers to develop a more robust yet representative counterterrorism capacity-building platform. A number of our close partners with considerable experience counting and – countering and preventing terrorism are not included among the GCTF’s founding members. We’ve discussed the GCTF and ways to involve Israel and its activities on a number of occasions, and we’re committed to making this happen.
QUESTION: Okay. That last line is exactly what was in the taken question from, I believe, June 8th. Can you say --
MR. VENTRELL: And that’s exactly where we are today.
QUESTION: Okay. What was done between then and this last meeting, which was just yesterday? There was a month span there, and I realize that diplomacy can move slowly. What did you do in the interim period there to get Israel involved? Because it’s my understanding that Israel very much wants to be involved in this and perhaps – and it certainly is a frontline state, as you said yesterday --
MR. VENTRELL: Yep.
QUESTION: -- that it has been the victim of terrorism and has been extremely successful in combating it as well, I think. So other frontline states that you mentioned who were left out – I’m not aware that they have evinced any interests – or any particular interest – in joining this group, so Israel has, so I’m just wondering what did the CT Bureau or whoever’s in charge of this do in the interim to get Israel included?
MR. VENTRELL: We continued to discuss it with the GCTF.
QUESTION: Does that mean that it’s a problem at the co-chair?
MR. VENTRELL: No. It means we’re continuing the discussion, and you know where our position is on this, and we’re working with our partners, and I don’t have anything --
QUESTION: Well, I mean, I’d just like to know what you did in the interim between June 8th and July 9th to work on this, on your commitment to getting Israel involved.
MR. VENTRELL: I imagine it was raised at a number of different levels, but let me check for you, Matt, and get back to you.
QUESTION: Okay. Because if you have done something, it suggests that there’s some opposition to them joining this, and that opposition – there’s a lot of speculation that opposition would come from the co-chair of this group, which is Turkey.
MR. VENTRELL: Well, let me find out at what levels we raised it and get back to you after the briefing, Matt.
QUESTION: Thank you.
Jonathan Tobin adds:
Though Otero’s anti-terrorist sentiments were unexceptionable, the exclusion of Israel, one of the primary targets of international terrorists and among the leading experts in how to deal with the problem, was clearly intentional. As Kredo noted, the State Department spokesperson refused to answer when asked about the omission of Israel from the speech and the conference. Though the Obama administration has been touting the president as Israel’s best friend ever during the election year Jewish charm offensive that followed three years of constant fights with the Jewish state, American diplomats have not gotten with the White House’s political program.What could go wrong?
Though President Obama has boasted of his friendship with Turkey’s Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, this is not a theme Democratic campaign surrogates like to discuss. Though the close relations with Turkey are sometimes explained as part of the administration’s efforts to isolate Iran, Erdoğan has made a fool of Obama by continuing his country’s lucrative trade with Tehran and using gold as a method to elude the Western sanctions on the Iranians. But rather than placing extra pressure on the Turks, the president has characteristically sought to appease them with the exclusion of Israel from the counter-terrorism conference as part of the down payment.
Though Israel wisely chose not to publicly complain about the snub, reportedly it did register its views privately and some members of Congress spoke up about the issue last month. But the complaints fell on deaf ears as Otero’s speech demonstrated.
Though this is not a major issue, it is one more sign of the administration’s attitude toward the Israelis. Should the president be re-elected and get the “flexibility” that he has said he would then have to act on foreign affairs, Israel should expect a lot more of this sort of thing if not worse.