Shin Bet to give Americans security lesson
Defense personnel from U.S., Canada arrive in Israel to learn about security, emergency situations
Senior security personnel from the United States, Canada and Israel are expected to attend a special internal security conference, which will open Sunday at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.
The conference, initiated by the ministry, has received the blessing of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. The four-day conference will be held at the Foreign Ministry, but the participants will also go out on tours and take part in a biological attack drill in the town of Nes Tziona, south of Tel Aviv.
"The conference is based on a simple idea – to share Israel's accumulated knowledge on homeland security since its inception with senior security officials from the U.S. and Canada," explained Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General Nissim Ben-Shitrit.
A series of senior Israeli officials are expected to address the attendees, including Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra, Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin, academics, representatives of the Ministries of Defense, Agriculture, Health and Infrastructure, and hospital officials.
"For the first time, all the relevant government officials will sit around the table. This is extremely heartwarming. It's the first time that the State of Israel hosts such a conference participated by all the elements involved in internal security aspects," Ben Shitrit added with satisfaction.
The conference will be divided into two main parts: professional lectures and a drill simulating a multi-casualty incident. In addition, the participants will tour Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and will attend an exhibition of unique security technologies produced by Israel's leading companies.
"We have no intention to say that we are the best. We are here to reveal Israel's capabilities so that everyone can take what suits them," Ben-Shitrit explained.
Foreign Ministry officials guaranteed that the conference participants are among the top internal security personnel in the different U.S. states, police commanders from states and regions, chief veterinarians and others.
And what are the conference's goals? Ben-Shitrit pointed to at least two main goals: alongside the potential economic profit, Israel is also expected to gain a fine political profit.
"There is no doubt that a close acquaintance with these people will give our people direct access to the different governors and will provide a political value. We see them as a new network of contact with internal security elements in the U.S.," Ben-Shitrit said.
"In the past, our people held a number of local seminars in Chicago and Maryland, and we identified a strong interest in Israeli combat doctrines and capabilities," he added.
"This conference is aimed at strengthening the cooperation between the three states – Israel, Canada and the U.S., around technologies and knowledge versus terror, natural disasters and other challenges. This is a conference which is meant to be continued in the future as smaller conventions," he explained.
Foreign Ministry officials did not reject the possibility that if the conference should turn out to be a success, they would consider holding a similar conference in the future with European countries.
"This is only the beginning, rather than a one-time event," Ben-Shitrit concluded.