Former CIA Director Reaffirms United States' "Strategic Relationship" With Israel In Fight Against Terrorism
New York, NY, October 7, 2008 … George J. Tenet, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), said Israel's security is at great peril, but that the United States and Israel have a "strategic relationship" and will "always be bound together." Mr. Tenet delivered the remarks during an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) dinner in upstate New York, where he was honored by the League for his efforts to combat terrorism, extremism and injustice.
"I knew that on 9/11 we had all become Israelis," said Mr. Tenet. "Israel has seen people die in bus bombings, or sitting in cafes in Tel Aviv - now I'd seen it happen on our soil."
"We have a Palestinian-Israeli crisis that is in more difficult shape than it's ever been, but that doesn't argue for walking away … I believe Israel is always in better shape when it is the strategic partner of the United States and the United States is at the table with them. We may have our disagreements, but we also understand that the strategic relationship between us will be unbroken and will always be bound together," he said.
Mr. Tenet also addressed the growing threat of Iran, and advocated for a strong multinational effort to counter the regime's pursuit of nuclear weapons.
"We have a number of moving parts that we have to address with a forceful, dynamic American policy, and it really centers on an ascendant political Iran." Mr. Tenet warned of an Iran dedicated to achieving "a nuclear weapons capability … We have to beat the Iranians at their own game - throw them off their feet, organize the world, bring in our allies, sanction them, bring them to table, and while we're doing that, recapitalize our influence in the region."
Mr. Tenet received ADL's 2008 William and Naomi Gorowitz Institute Service Award, which salutes outstanding achievements in combating terrorism, extremism and injustice.
"George Tenet is an exceptional public servant, one who has spent his entire distinguished career in intelligence, security and international affairs," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, in presenting the award. "He is also a committed friend to the State of Israel, who encouraged exchanges between the CIA and Israeli intelligence services to advance each country's national security and to advance the fight against global terrorism. We are incredibly honored to count George Tenet as our very special, dear and valued friend."
Mr. Tenet also discussed how ADL helped him identify and respond to issues of anti-Semitism that were manifest at the CIA during his tenure.
"We had a problem once at CIA … there is no doubt there was anti-Semitism at stake. With the help of ADL trainers, we educated an entire bureaucracy and we taught people about how their words could be misinterpreted in a manner that was detrimental to the interests of our country," Mr. Tenet said.
Under his leadership, the CIA brought ADL's A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute training to help the agency's supervisors and agents work with an increasingly diverse staff.
The ADL William and Naomi Gorowitz Institute on Terrorism and Extremism works to combat the threat of terrorism through educational, political and legal means. It is dedicated to providing timely information and educational opportunities to the law enforcement community.
Mr. Tenet was sworn in as Director of Central Intelligence in July 1997 and served in the post under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush - the second longest tenure in the agency's history.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.