TEL AVIV – Israel can learn from Europe how to fight terrorism and not just the other way around, the EU envoy to the Jewish state said on Tuesday, sparking a backlash from pro-Israel activists.
Outgoing Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen told reporters that Israel would stand to gain from the European Union’s approach, which maintains that “fighting terrorism is an endeavor that requires the whole tool box of instruments.”
While he admitted that Israel was proficient in the “security dimension,” there are many other ways to deal with terror which the EU has adopted, including the use of social services and education to “de-radicalize” jihadists.
“There are a whole lot of other elements,” he said. “In Europe we have adopted a holistic approach to fighting terrorism. I think Israel could have an interest in studying our experience in holistic approaches.”
Former IDF Spokesperson Col. Peter Lerner was taken aback, tweeting, “I had to read this twice. Outgoing @EUinIsrael ambassador: ‘Israel has much to learn from us in war on terror.'”
— LTC (R) Peter Lerner (@LTCPeterLerner) August 23, 2017
Noting there have been 14 people murdered in Israel from terror attacks in the past year compared with over 200 in Europe – 130 from car rammings alone – international human rights lawyer and expert on Israel-EU affairs Arsen Ostrovsky told Breitbart Jerusalem that Faaborg-Andersen’s remarks are entirely out of touch with reality.
“It is rather rich of the EU to be lecturing Israel on how to fight terror, when during the past year alone there has been more than tenfold the number of people murdered in terror attacks in Europe than in Israel,” Ostrovsky said.
“The EU would be better served by learning from and working with Israel, a recognized leader in the war on terror, than seeking to apply a double standard and constrain the Jewish state’s ability to defend itself from the same Islamic terror that is now sweeping Europe,” he added.
Ostrovsky, who is also a Middle East foreign affairs and national security analyst, added that Israel’s recent history of car-ramming attacks made the country adept at minimizing casualties by “erecting barriers and placing a greater physical presence of security, including armed officers, in key public landmarks and thoroughfares.”
In addition, Ostrovsky told Breitbart Jerusalem that Israel “has a very rapid response time to terror attacks, which is crucial to reducing casualties and capturing or neutralizing the terrorist. This is enabled by the fact there is a heavy presence of soldiers, professional private security and large number of civilians who are trained and licensed to carry firearms and have in fact often been the first responders on the scene.”
“There is much that EU can learn from the Jewish state in fighting terror and minimizing the threat of attacks,” he added.
A day before the EU envoy made his comments, Ostrovsky and former British army commander Col. Richard Kemp published an oped in the International Business Times along the same lines that further underscores Israel’s expertise in cybersecurity and, notably, its controversial use of profiling.
As unpalatable as it may be to European sensitivities, they must begin to apply profiling risk assessment as a measure of precaution and prevention. The stark reality is that a Caucasian mother does not fit your profile of a typical terrorist in this scenario, with all terrorists in the car rammings so far being male Islamic jihadists between roughly the ages of 20 to 40.
They add, however, that Israel does not conduct blanket profiling of entire ethnic groups. Instead, security personnel are trained to detect suspicious behavior through body language and other clues.
The two further note that European countries should consider adopting Israel’s recently passed law which strips Israelis who have joined foreign terror groups of their citizenship. On Wednesday, Breitbart Jerusalem reported that a further 20 Israelis – the majority of whom are Israeli Arabs – are tapped to have their citizenship revoked for having joined the Islamic State terror group in Syria or Iraq.
In an interview with Breitbart News Daily, Sirius XM, Col. Kemp added that one of the main problems of “lone wolf” attacks is that they are almost impossible to anticipate because the terrorists aren’t coordinating with superiors in a terror cell and do not need sophisticated weaponry to carry out their attacks. A car or even a kitchen knife will do. For that reason, says Col. Kemp, the fact that so many people in Israel are ex-soldiers and are armed – not to mention all police officers – have helped mitigate casualties from such attacks.
Writing in The Spectator on Sunday, British journalist David Patrikarakos also conceded that Europe must do more to mimic Israel’s methods in fighting terror.
“One country, above all, has the method and the solution: Israel,” Patrikarakos said.
“This little country of eight million has been dealing with terrorism since the state’s inception 70 years ago,” he continued. “From airline hijackings to suicide bombers to stabbings, shootings and vehicle attacks, Israel has seen them all — and has adapted accordingly.”