Watch: Circa's exclusive interview with Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer
Israel's Ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, was all smiles Tuesday as he accepted an award from the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a Washington D.C. think-tank that some critics describe as anti-Muslim.
Dermer had been urged by some, including the Anti-Defamation League - a Jewish organization aimed at stopping the defamation of its people - not to accept the Freedom Flame Award - which recognizes those who exemplify freedom and democracy.
Dermer used the opportunity to say there needs to be a collaborative effort with Muslim allies - such as Egypt and Morocco - to fight radicalism.
"There are serious partners in the region who are fighting militant Islam in ideological terms, partners who cannot be dismissed as secular heretics but who are themselves devoted Muslims who have the credibility to challenge the Islamists who claim to represent Islam," Dermer said. "The reformers within Islam are real."
He noted that groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which he lauded for its past work fighting extremists like the Klu Klux Klan, is misguided when labeling many people and organizations as being anti-Muslim.
The SPLC urged Dermer not to accept the award from the Center for Security Policy, which they list as an anti-Muslim group on their website.
They have also listed other people Dermer considers friends and outspoken heroes in the fight against militant Islam. Somali-born Dutch American activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of them.
Hirsi Ali was born a Muslim, but became an atheist later in life. She is a former Dutch parliamentarian and is an outspoken critic of the treatment of women in Islam.
Ambassador Dermer warned that ostracizing those who oppose militant Islam will only make fighting extremists more difficult.
"We all should stand with Ayaan Hirsi Ali," Dermer said. "For if we do not stand with her, then the values she champions - the same values we cherish - will be under threat and the dangers we face will only grow."
"I have followed the work of the CSP for many years," Dermer said. "And while I do not agree with every policy position you have taken or every view expressed by every member of your organization, the CSP is not only an unabashed defender of Israel, it is also no hate group."
Dermer also told Circa that he and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu look forward to working with President-elect Donald Trump.
"Donald Trump is a true friend of Israel," he said. "I’ve gotten a chance to know him, I know Vice President-elect Pence, Mike Pence for a long time, he was one of most pro-Israel members of Congress, probably the most pro-Israel governor in the country and we’re looking forward to working with the entire Trump Administration.”
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