President Barack Obama’s absence
at an anti-terror unity rally in Paris on Sunday attended by some 40 heads of state was a "blunder," Harvard law professor and author Alan Dershowitz said Monday on Newsmax TV's
"I just don't understand," he said. "This is a smart group of people, you would think at the very least they would send the vice president. But they didn't do that and there's been a lot of reaction, mostly in the United States, but a lot of criticism."
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As world leaders locked arms and marched through the streets of Paris on Sunday in a show of solidarity against terror, the absence of a U.S. leader was noticed and criticized
Among those who marched with French President Francois Hollande were British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and Jordan's King Abdullah II and Queen Rania.
Even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas marched together, although Dershowitz was cautious about the significance of their participation.
"Anything that can bring the Palestinians and the Israelis together is a good thing," he said. "But the moral equation is horrible. The Palestinians are where they are because of terrorism. They essentially invented terrorism as a foreign policy and Abbas was part of that with [former PLO leader Yasser] Arafat.
"I would hope that this tragic event — and I feel sorry obviously for the victims whether they were Christians, Muslims or Jews — but I hope this brings people together, finally, and makes them realize you can't tolerate some terrorism and expect to fight other terrorism. It's a unified concept."
Dershowitz acknowledged the enormous security risk of sending the president to Paris.
"But when you get elected to high office, in any country, you have to put the security concerns second and you have to put the national interest first," he said.
Reports that Hollande tried to dissuade Netanyahu from attending the unity rally in Paris is clear evidence of France’s self-centered foreign policy, according to Dershowitz, who said France didn’t want to "shift the focus away from France to terrorism in general around the Middle East."
"The French are wonderful at protecting themselves and their own people, but they're not so good at sharing the burden when it comes to stopping terrorism in other parts of the world," he said.
France’s "extraordinarily hypocritical and extraordinarily selfish" decision to "play footsie" with terrorists, rather than combating them head-on, resulted in last week’s deadly attacks in Paris, Dershowitz said.
"France has one of the worst records
of fighting terrorism, particularly when it's terrorism that doesn't affect its own people," he said. "For years and years, France played footsie with Middle East terrorists, as long as they didn't come to France.
"Their idea was to export terrorism and of course the end result is they imported it. You either have to fight all terrorism or you're not going to be successful in fighting any terrorism."
Dershowitz said he hopes the French terror attacks bring people together and finally "makes (the French) realize you can't tolerate some terrorism and expect to fight other terrorism. It's a unified concept."
On "The Steve Malzberg Show," later Monday, Dershowitz did not back away from his controversial criticism of France — which was also the subject of an "ambush"
that Dershowitz said he experienced on Thursday at the hands of MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell.
"France has had a long, long history of cozying up to terrorists, of facilitating them, of freeing them, as long as they don't attack France," Dershowitz told Steve Malzberg. "It is the most selfish and hypocritical foreign policy among many hypocritical and selfish European foreign policies.
"The idea was that they would do anything to prevent the importation of terrorism — they wanted to export terrorism. It's okay if terrorists hit other countries," said Dershowitz.
"You can't pick and choose among terrorists," he continued. "You have to be opposed to all terrorists. If you say it's okay in the Middle East, it's okay when they attack Israel, but it's not okay when they attack France, that doesn't work. And the events [in Paris] recently proved that. But France hasn't learned its lesson."
Dershowitz also said that President Barack Obama needs to put a name to the threat facing the West in the wake of last week's wave of Islamist-inspired violence in Paris.
"The time has come also for President Obama to acknowledge that this is a problem of Islamic extremism," said Dershowitz. "It's not just a problem of terrorism. Even his attorney general [Eric Holder] said, 'No, we're against all terrorism.'
"The worst terrorism in the world today is Islamic extremism," said Dershowitz. "You can worry about North Korea closing down a movie theater, but nobody worries that when you insult north Korea they're going to star blowing up your cartoon magazines."
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