JERUSALEM (AP) – U.S. Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff said Thursday that progress is being made in the war on terror but it is being sabotaged by critics of American foreign policy in the West.
Chertoff was speaking at a security conference in Jerusalem with counterparts from around the world, aimed at sharing information and techniques to fight terrorism. He said the U.S. was making inroads in the “battle for hearts and minds” in the Muslim world, but that the effort was being undermined by “sources of cynicism in our society that cannot distinguish between our actions and the actions of terrorists, that treat everything as equivalent, that view appeasement as the best course of dealing with the enemy.” He said Muslim communities “have seen their religion hijacked by a group of ideologues.” But he noted that there was a new trend of Muslim clerics in the Middle East and the U.S. that have begun to speak out, preaching that “the ideology of bin Laden and others is at odds with what Islam is about,” he said.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, also speaking a the conference, said the international community must stop making moral equivalencies between civilians killed by suicide bombers and civilians killed during operations against militants. Israel is often criticized for harming civilians in its operations against militants in the Gaza Strip.
Nine countries are participating in the two-day conference, including Britain, Spain and Italy.
Israel’s Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said Thursday’s talks included discussions on the Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. He said Israel and the U.S. have signed an agreement to collaborate on future high-tech counterterrorism projects, but did not elaborate.