The organizers of the Munich Security Conference, considered one of the most respected events held annually in the area of defense, have apparently decided to sideline Israel, presumably because of the Hamas war.
The conference has traditionally had Israeli speakers placed in key panels and forums. This includes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli defense ministers Yoav Gallant, Benny Gantz and Moshe Ya’alon, all of whom addressed the plenary. However, ahead of this year’s conference, which will take place on Feb. 16-18, the organizers have rejected all Israeli requests for key appearances.
The request from Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s office was rejected, essentially denying him the opportunity to speak to a large audience. Instead, Gallant was offered to participate as a panel speaker.
The families of the hostages held in Gaza have also been rebuffed—their request to hold a ceremony in honor of their loved ones in a large forum was refused. They were told they could hold an event on the sidelines, which means that there would be scant attendance and little media coverage.
It should be noted that the chairman of the Munich Security Conference is Christoph Heusgen, who served as chief foreign policy adviser under then-chancellor Angela Merkel. He has a very problematic record regarding Israel.
For example, he defended U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres after the latter said that the “Hamas massacre did not happen in a vacuum,” and he has opposed Israel’s Gaza campaign.
According to Heusgen, one should take into account “56 years of occupation.” He also said that “a diplomatic solution must be reached. We have to prevent an invasion of Israeli soldiers into the Gaza Strip. Israel should refrain from ground attack.”
According to a report in Der Spiegel, when Heusgen served as Merkel’s adviser, he urged the Obama administration to end its policy of vetoing anti-Israel U.N. Security Council resolutions. The news site quoted documents saying he secretly met with U.S. State Department officials to put pressure on Netanyahu.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center ranked then-German ambassador to the United Nations Heusgen’s comparison between Israel and Hamas as No. 7 on its 2019 top 10 list of worst antisemitic outbreaks.
The Munich Security Conference is partly funded by the German government, and officially Berlin has consistently supported Israel throughout the war.
Originally published by Israel Hayom.