Even as senior Israeli terrorism experts spent two days on Long Island this week briefing law enforcement authorities from New York and three other East Coast states about terrorist tactics and how best to detect and prevent attacks, one expert stressed that the United States is not as susceptible to attack as is Israel.
ìWe don’t want to create self-fulfilling prophecies," Brig. Gen. Simon Perry of Israel’s National Police Force told The Jewish Week. "You are not in the same situation. Put them [the suggestions] in a drawer and should the situation deteriorate, take them out so you don’t have to start from the beginning."
The conference in Hauppauge was sponsored by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs and hosted by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota and Police Commissioner Richard Dormer.
More than 300 law enforcement officials from throughout the state, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts were on hand. It was the sixth conference of its kind sponsored by JINSA in the past two years and the first in the New York area.
Perry said Israeli authorities deal with terrorism by taking steps to "make it possible for people to live a normal life."
"That is how you judge if you are successful," Perry said.
Brig. Gen. Dov Lutsky, also of Israel’s National Police Force, agreed.
"What we do in Israel is try to bring life back to normal as quickly as possible" after a terrorist attack, he said. "That is the main issue. Terror prevails when people don’t live a normal life, and normal life has prevailed [in Israel]. People are able to live a normal life even though there are terror attacks now and then.
"But it’s not the same now as it was in 2001 and 2002, when we were sometimes getting one attack a day. Since then we did things that influenced the war against terror, like building the fence between [the West Bank] and Israel."
Lutsky noted also that Israeli troops went into major Palestinian cities that "incubated terror" to destroy their operations.
"Then we put into place a few measures that enabled us to reduce the damage if there is an attack against us," he said.
As an example, Lutsky cited private security guards at the entrance to every mall in the country to stop a would-be terrorist before he or she gets inside.
"We’ve had a few instances where terrorists were detected before they got in," he said.
Although Lutsky said such guards put their lives on the line, Israelis carry out that function "because they believe what they are doing is needed: and we appreciate it."
Mickey Levy, the former police chief of Jerusalem, said there were 13 terrorist explosions during his tenure.
"When I saw on TV what happened a few days ago in Jordan, I knew what the Jordanians felt because I felt the same in Jerusalem," he said. "We are a small nation, but we have a lot of experience in dealing with terror. We are here to share with the American people our experience because we do not want the American police or people to pay with the blood Israelis paid."
Levy, who left his post a year ago, stressed that terrorism is not just an Israeli or American problem.
"Look what happened in Egypt, in Bali, in Spain, London, Istanbul and Jordan," he said. "It’s happening all over the world. But the situation in Jerusalem is not like New York."
Levy said the fence being erected to separate Jerusalem from the West Bank is serving to protect the country’s capital even though it has yet to be completed.
"We’re happy that now in Jerusalem it is very quiet and people are living a normal life," Levy said. "When we finish building the fence … we will be able to protect the people more than now."