The AP’s Matt Lee, in an exchange with Patrick Ventrell, the State Department spokesman, wonders how Israel got left out of a conference on victims of terrorism in Madrid, and left out of undersecretary of state Maria Otero’s speech to the conference.
Here’s a sample of Otero’s speech:
We should ensure that those survivors who wish to share their stories have the opportunity to do so on the world stage. By magnifying the voices of survivors, especially through international media, we have a unique chance to educate the world about the pain inflicted by terrorists. Though such awareness is tainted with pain and suffering, it is all the more powerful in discouraging radicalized individuals and empowering other victims to speak up against violent extremism.
Last September at the official launch of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, I had the privilege to introduce the premier 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 [sic] and the United States. 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.
Here’s Lee and Ventrell, at the State Department briefing yesterday:
QUESTION: I have an Israel-related question.
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah.
QUESTION: Under Secretary Otero was at a meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Coalition this morning in Spain (inaudible).
MR. VENTRELL: Okay.
QUESTION: She gave a speech or a short speech. Do you know about this?
MR. VENTRELL: I have no information on this (inaudible).
QUESTION: Okay. Well, it was released – it’s a tab on your website.
MR. VENTRELL: Okay.
QUESTION: Anyway, in it she goes through – this is a conference about victims of terrorism. And I’m curious to know why she doesn’t mention Israel or Israelis in her comments talking about victims of terrorism. Does the Administration believe that Israel and Israelis specifically have been victims of terrorism?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, of course, but —
QUESTION: Yes. But not —
MR. VENTRELL: Matt, I don’t have the details of the Under Secretary’s speech.
QUESTION: Well, this – this —
MR. VENTRELL: I know we have a forum with – let me finish.
QUESTION: — grows out of the forum to which the Israelis have not been invited, which was talked about a little bit a month or so ago when the Secretary attended a meeting Istanbul.
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah, and I don’t have anything further for you.
QUESTION: Okay. So at the time the – someone came back and said that, yes, you were doing your best to get Israel included in these types of events. In the month that has passed, nothing has changed on that. Is that what you’re saying?
MR. VENTRELL: Again, Matt, I don’t have any details on this particular meeting. I’m happy to look into it. You’re – this is the first that I’m hearing about it.
Also noteworthy is the exchange, again between Ventrell and Lee (I think), after Ventrell expresses U.S. "concern" about the conclusions of an Israeli panel that declared West Bank settlement legal:
QUESTION: A quick follow-up on this. When you express your concern, is it just done from this podium, or is it done officially? Does someone pick up the phone and talk to someone in the Israeli Government and say we express displeasure?
MR. VENTRELL: I don’t know if we have raised this directly with the Israeli Government. I just read out our position here from the podium. I can check and see if our Embassy has raised it.