Israel’s exclusion from an international counterterrorism forum headed by the United States has drawn protest from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which claims Turkey has blocked the Jewish State’s participation.
The Global Counterterrorism Forum, a 29-state group formed last year by the United States “to develop a more robust yet representative counterterrorism capacity-building platform,” does not include Israel. The State Department’s undersecretary for civilian security, democracy, and human rights also neglected to mention Israel in a speech before the forum entitled “Victims of Terrorism” on Monday.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, charged that the Jewish State’s omission was driven by tension with Ankara, and likened the exclusion “to having a global technology conference and excluding the United States of America.”
“I am well aware that Turkey, one of the co-chairman 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 wrote in a letter of protest to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“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.“
Senators Joseph Lieberman and Mark Kirk petitioned Clinton last month over Israel’s “wrongful omission,” saying, “There are few countries in the world that have suffered more from terrorism than Israel, and few governments that have more experience combatting this threat.”
The State Department denied awareness of particular opposition of Israel’s involvement in the forum by its members, but said that Israel’s participation has been considered. It responded to repeated inquiries regarding Israel’s conspicuous absence from the international group — which does include neighboring Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan — by saying it believes Israel “would make a valuable contribution to the Global Counterterrorism Forum.”