Michael Rubin’s incisive post on the apparent exclusion of Israel from another meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) identifies a significant effect of U.S. acquiescence in the exclusion: an implicit U.S. endorsement of the drive to delegitimize Israel, by signaling that even on the issue of counterterrorism (on which Israel has obvious knowledge and expertise); even in the case of a prominent international forum on that subject (co-founded and co-chaired by the United States); and even though the U.S. has repeatedly announced its “commitment” to the inclusion of Israel, the U.S. will continue to permit Israel’s exclusion.
There is another unfortunate effect, highlighted by the way the issue was treated at yesterday’s State Department press conference, where the deputy spokesman announced that Secretary Clinton would participate in the December 14 ministerial meeting of the GCTF. The following colloquy occurred:
QUESTION: You announced that the Secretary is going to be attending the Global Counterterrorism Conference —
MR. TONER: Yes, I did.
QUESTION: — in Abu Dhabi, which opens the can of worms about whether Israel has been invited to participate in any capacity at all. Do you know if they have or if there are plans to get them involved, if not at a ministerial level, at a lower level?
MR. TONER: You know where we stand on this, which is that we’ve discussed with our partners in the Global Counterterrorism Forum ways to involve Israel. We said this before. We’re committed to doing so. We’ll raise it again in this venue.
QUESTION: But not this time?
MR. TONER: I don’t know if they are going to be invited. I’ll try to get more information on that.
Back in June, asked whether the U.S. had sought to get Israel involved in the GCTF, the State Department said the issue had been discussed and that the U.S. was “committed to making this happen.” In July, when Israel was not invited to the 29-nation GCTF conference, the spokesman did not know whether anything had been done by the U.S. regarding its commitment, but confirmed that the U.S. was “committed to making it happen.” Every time the issue is raised, the State Department spokesman repeats the commitment, but has trouble explaining what has been done about it.
Now Israel has apparently been excluded again, and in announcing the meeting the State Department spokesperson did not think it necessary to inform himself on the issue before meeting the press. The unfortunate effect is to call into question the meaning and effect of the U.S. “commitment,” sending a signal to Turkey (the other GCTF co-chair) and other nations that perhaps the word doesn’t mean what they think it means.