Last week in Istanbul, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted the first U.S.-sponsored Global Counterterrorism Forum. The event brought representatives from many countries, including Saudi Arabia — long known for spreading the radical Wahhabist ideology to which many terrorists adhere — but with one conspicuous absence.
The United States appears not to have invited Israel, a country with a long track record of combating terrorism.
One Israeli diplomat told The Times of Israel that “the Turks are currently not behaving in a very helpful manner,” and they go to great lengths to block the presence of Israel at international events. It is unclear if Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, himself strong-armed the U.S. State Department.
When questioned by a reporter from the Associated Press, State Department spokesman Mark Toner replied, “it’s not clear to me that [Israel] was rejected, but certainly, as you mentioned in your question, they are a counterterrorism partner with the United States and with many of the countries in this group.”
#more#Israel’s attendance is “certainly something we would look upon favorably,” Toner continued, “but I’m not aware that any formal request has been made.”
“We did not plan on going to that meeting anyway,” said Israeli foreign-ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. “We will take part in working groups on different issues of this forum. That’s confirmed. We’re not estranged from that forum.”
There was a time when the United States vehemently opposed Israel’s exclusion from international forums. Take the example of the late Jeane Kirkpatrick, whom President Ronald Reagan appointed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Peter Collier’s new must-read biography, Political Woman: The Big Little Life of Jeane Kirkpatrick, captures Kirkpatrick’s unwavering commitment to Israel.
In a recent Jerusalem Post op-ed, Collier wrote:
Kirkpatrick defended Israel by her unyielding critique of what it faced at the UN. Charging that diplomacy regarding the “Arab-Israeli conflict” at the world body “has nothing to do with peace, but is quite simply a continuation of war against Israel by other means,” she said that the UN, as a result, had become a place where “moral outrage was distributed like violence in a protection racket.
It is stating the obvious, but had Prime Minister Erdogan tried to wist Jeane Kirkpatrick’s arm to evict Israel from the Forum, she would have held her ground.
Israel has learned more than most countries about fighting terrorism, and it’s happy to share its wisdom. It’s not just good politics to invite the Israelis. It’s good sense.
— Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.