Top security experts in Israel are worried about the Obama Administration’s attitude to radical Muslim governments in the region and by Obama’s willingness to freeze Israel out of two recent high-level counter-terror conferences.
Israel broke the back of Arab suicide terror attacks in 2002, reducing them to near zero, but the US did not invite Israel to a counter-terror conference in Turkey last month, nor to a similar parley in Madrid last week, apparently to placate the Islamist government of Turkey, which has itself supported the Hamas terror group in Gaza.
The US was so concerned about offending Turkey, it seems, that Under-Secretary of State Maria Otero, one of the top State Department officials, specifically did not mention Israel among the countries that have been victims to terror attacks.
“Israel has been one of the key counterterrorism allies of the United States for 30 years,” observed Dr. Dore Gold, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations in an interview with The Algemeiner.
“Its absence from an American-sponsored counter-terror conference raises questions that need to be answered,” said Dr. Gold, an expert on the Persian Gulf region who was born and educated in the US.
Both counter-terror conferences were attended by more than two-dozen allies of the US, including such counter-terror powers as the United Arab Emirates, whose leader was personally greeted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is now visiting the region.
Israeli officials say the Obama Administration has a naïve or even uninformed view of recent upheavals in Arab-Islamic states, particularly events in Egypt and Turkey, believing that the Erdogan government in Turkey and the new regime of Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhammad Morsi are both forces for moderation.
Visiting Turkey was one of the first major foreign trips of President Obama, and he delivered a dramatic public speech in Egypt that seemed to undermine the regime of Husni Mubarak, the old president, while inviting participation from the extreme Islamist khwan al-Muslimoun: The Muslim Brotherhood.
President Obama has said that he considers Turkish leader Recep Erdogan a model of moderation, even asking him to moderate between the US and Iran on the issue of Iran’s presumed atomic bomb project, while top Obama aides have said they think Egypt’s Brotherhood is also moderate.
“Morsi says ‘I want an Islamic caliphate (empire) whose capital is Jerusalem,’ and what do they say: ‘Don’t believe him. He doesn’t really mean it.’ Well, he does mean it,” observed Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amos Gilad, in a briefing to students in Herzliya.
Egyptian President-Elect Morsi and his aides made many inflammatory statements about Israel and Jews in recent appearances, according to MEMRI, the multi-language analysis organization which has released texts and films of the events.
“Jihad is our path, and death for the sake of Allah is our most lofty aspiration,” yelled Morsi in a widely televised campaign appearance only two months ago. Morsi repeated the words several time to the tumultuous reception of a crowd of backers.
“This is not secret information. They say it openly,” declared Gilad, an Arabic-speaker who has traveled widely to secret talks with Arab leaders and who directed the gathering arm of Israeli military intelligence.
The silver-haired general said US officials were in a kind of state of psychological denial when it came to their whole view of the so-called “Arab Spring”—the major upheavals in Arab countries.
“We talk to the Americans about the ‘Arab Spring’ as if Jefferson was chosen as the head man of some village, but there is a tradition here of reactionary regimes,” said Gilad, who is director of the political wing of the Ministry of Defense.
Gilad said the US had a naïve view of the upheavals, noting that “democracy” often released “satanic forces” under which “women don’t count for anything” and where “marriages are forced on youngsters who are 14 or 15 years old—the kind of practice that in the end leads to an Islamic empire.”
Many Israeli analysts worry that the new Egyptian power structure threatens Israel directly on its southern border. Terror attacks—from Gaza and Sinai—jumped ten-fold last month, from ten to 99. Some of the attacks were infiltrations on the border fence, while others involved multiple-rocket barrages, including 197 rockets.
Two Israelis were killed and four injured in last month’s attacks, according to Israeli figures, and there appears to be a trend of using more sophisticated and heavier weapons in the assaults, such as a multiple rocket assault this week on the commercial hub of Yad Mordechai, a major kibbutz center.
Dr. Michael Widlanski, an expert on Arab politics and communications, is the author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat just published by Threshold/Simon and Schuster. He is a former reporter, correspondent and editor respectively at The New York Times, Cox Newspapers, and The Jerusalem Post, and he served as Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel’s Ministry of Public Security and as an advisor to Israeli negotiating teams in 1991-92 at the Madrid Summit and thereafter.