Outgoing EU ambassador: 'Israel has much to learn from us in war on terror'
Concluding his mission to Israel, Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen commends Israel’s operational handling of terrorism, but insists it could attach greater import to educational counter-terror methods; laments tendency to view EU-Israel ties as icy, cites widespread cooperation and acknowledges Israel provides ‘highest caliber’ info on ISIS to Europe.
At the conclusion of his four-year mission to Israel Tuesday, Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen—the outgoing European Union delegate to Israel—believes Israel has "much to learn" from the European Union when it comes to fighting terror.
Speaking in a press conference held at the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv, Faaborg-Andersen made it clear that while the European Union does indeed have a lot to learn from Israel in the war on terror, Israel would also do well to take a leaf out of Europe's how-to guide when it comes to fighting Islamic militants.
Also during the conference Faaborg-Andersen noted that the war on terror is an effort necessitating the use of every weapon in the continent's countries' arsenals. Moreover, he said that while Israel had performed with notable success whe it came to operational counter-terror measures, it was also necessary to employ other tools at its disposal, such as education and de-radicalization methods.
"There's a significant security aspect to it, which you undoubtedly address," he said, "but there are also other aspects to work with including welfare and educational services and the like," he opined. "Europe has adopted a more holistic approach to the war on terror—and Israel can definitely learn from European experience."
When asked whether he considered this "holistic approach" to be a success, Faaborg-Andersen admitted shortcomings, but praised the overall approach.
"If there's still terrorism it obviously hasn't been a complete success, because a one-hundred-percent hermetically sealed security against attacks is tough to achieve. But you can definitely reduce the number of attacks. I think our approach is successful, but not entirely so. It's certainly better than not doing anything," he said.
"It's also a lot better compared to the situation of just a few years ago," the EU rep added. "Generally speaking, European terror handling preparedness today is leaps and bounds better than what it was, but there is obviously more to achieve in that regard—much more bureaucracy and organizational cultural gaps to bridge so we're always one step ahead of the terrorists."
"Israel gives us information on ISIS"
Regarding Israeli-European collaboration on the war on terror, the ambassador remarked that up until today, there have been two dialogues on the matter and several workshops and training seminars.
"We're definitely learning from each other on de-radicalization, fighting terror financing, cyber terrorism and more," Faaborg-Andersen said. "And Israel absolutely supplies important information to the EU, including in matters regarding ISIS. The information Israel supplies is of the highest caliber and it flows freely between intelligence agencies. I don't have the exact details of the information, but we're feeling very good about it."
Faaborg-Andersen further lamented Israel's perception of the EU and its misunderstanding of its role and its importance.
On a personal note, Faaborg-Andersen reflected on his post in Israel, and insisted that he remained fond of the "interesting" country.
"I'm wrapping up a four-year term. It was a great privilege to serve here. I believe in Europe wholeheartedly, even after Brexit. Our relationship with Israel is very special. Israel is definitely one of the more interesting places to serve as EU ambassador. The European relationship with Israel is the most developed with any non-member country."
He added that he found it fascinating to follow and witness first hand the domestic goings-on in Israel with a "broken peace process, war and elections."
"The relationship hasn't been realized to its fullest," he lamented. "I found precious few Israelis understand the level of our relationship, which both sides enjoy, instead focusing on what we disagree on which makes up only 15-20 percent of the relationship."
"We're great supporters and great friends of Israel," Faaborg-Andersen concluded, "and our record proves the point. I don't want that point getting lost in our disagreements, which mainly center on the Palestinian issue. There are vital foreign relations issues we do agree on, such as fighting anti-Semitism and the war on terror. You're doing all you can to stabilize the situation in Jordan and Egypt and so are we. You provide under-the-table security cooperation and intelligence. My message to you is to give the relationship the credit it's due and be more judicious in talking about them, rather than focusing on any single issue."