I confess. Listening to Kerry’s speech on Wednesday night was very difficult for me. Because it made me ill. The claims of friendship for Israel, the protests that the Obama administration has always had Israel’s best in mind – all delivered in a calm steady voice radiating faux sincerity. Stomach turning, when you understand the truth.
There are a number of specific “facts” Kerry presented that require refutation. But here I want to focus on the macro – on the picture he painted in bold strokes. Actually there is one statement he made that, amidst all of the others, rankled me the most:
“This administration has been Israel’s greatest friend and supporter…No American Administration has done more for Israel’s security than Barack Obama’s.”
To support this contention, Kerry would likely tote out all sorts of information about funds supplied, military cooperation, etc. But this information, as he would present it, would neglect a number of salient facts – such as agreements that were actually in place before Obama came into office, and the degree to which Congress and the Pentagon have been involved, while Obama chose to take credit.
But let’s move past all of this and take a hard look at Obama’s deal with Iran. The primary fact is that – by conceding point after point in negotiations (so much so that he seemed to be siding with Iran and not the West) – he has actually made it possible for Iran, a sworn enemy of Israel, to build that bomb down the road.
But there is more. Repeatedly, as he was entering negotiations, Obama was urgently requested to fold restrictions on supporting terrorism into the deal. He refused to do so. And even as he refused, he lifted sanctions and then supplied Iran with billions (by some reports as much as $33 billion) in secret cash. The Iranians were perfectly free, under the agreement, to use this largesse to fund terrorists groups. Which is what they are doing – strengthening Hezbollah and Hamas.
Israel’s military situation is more difficult – Israel is at more of a risk – because of the policies of Barack Hussein Obama. And yet Kerry has the unmitigated gall to say that Obama has always had Israel’s back and has great concern for Israel’s security!
Once you wrap your head around this mind-blowing duplicity, you can comprehend the underpinning of misrepresentations that run through Kerry’s presentation.
One other point about security:
Essentially, according to Kerry’s “plan,” Israel is supposed to withdraw to the 1949 armistice line (the Green Line). This line is what Israeli diplomat Abba Eban referred to as “the Auschwitz border.” It is NOT a defensible border. In one area it reduces Israel to a width of only nine miles. UN Security Council Resolution 242 recognized that it would not provide Israel with necessary depth. Yet Kerry – who professes concern for Israel’s “security” – has no compunctions about demanding this of us.
Is he so colossally dimwitted that, while he gives the risks a cursory a nod, he truly does not perceive the import of a situation in which jihadists (Iranian supported) might overthrow Jordan’s king, march through the “state of Palestine” and move on to Israel? Or does he just not care about providing Israel with necessary strategic depth?
For the record, Kerry puts forth the “creative” solution of Israel depending on Arab states for security, which for Israel is no solution at all.
Of course, what Kerry has done is embrace the Palestinian Arab narrative in its totality. A narrative that claims all of Judea and Samaria as “Palestinian” land, which it most clearly is not.
I covered this ground in my last posting. http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2016/12/25/december-25-2016-anger-and-not-panic.html
Within that narrative, primary responsibility for the fact that a “two-state solution” has not materialized lies with Israel. He demurs just a bit, without convincing sincerity. But essentially his claim is that Israel is ruining the plan by building in Judea and Samaria. For him, it’s about “settlements.”
Friends, intoned Kerry, tell friends the truth.
Are we his only “friends” in the Mid-East then, that it is to us alone that he speaks his “truths”? What about the Palestinian Arabs? Has he never felt called upon to confront them with hard truths? In the interests of friendship, of course.
Why has he not spelled out the core reality that the PA blocks the possibility of peace because it will not recognize Israel as the Jewish State (about which more below) and acknowledge its right to exist?
Or, for that matter, why has he never demanded that the PA stop paying salaries to terrorists in Israeli prisons?
Or insisted that peace is still distant is because the PA consistently utilizes maps – in their textbooks and elsewhere – that eliminate Israel?
Or expressed horror at the inciteful PA practice of naming town squares and sports events after terrorists?
Rhetorical questions, all. Kerry functions with blinders on.
And then, two other matters in my critique of Kerry’s talk.
The first is his failure to give honest recognition to all that Israel has done in an effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict. Listening to Kerry, one would imagine that Israeli governments have been consistently (from his perspective) hard nosed and intransigent. In point of fact, I believe over the years Israeli governments have done waaay too much, offering what should never have been offered. But the offers were made, and Kerry ignores them.
There were two deals offered to the PA by Israeli prime ministers – by Ehud Barak in 2000, and Ehud Olmert in 2008. Olmert’s offer was stunning (read shocking) with regard to what Israel would have surrendered. Israel would have given up control of the Temple Mount, and given the PA 93% of Judea and Samaria, with other land inside of the Green Line to be ceded to the PA to compensate for the 7% retained.
But Kerry slides by all of this. And it’s not just because of a reluctance to give due to Israel: To recognize the offers would be to expose Palestinian Arab intransigence, something he would prefer not to do. Arafat turned down the first offer, and Abbas the second.
Actually, we’re looking at more than intransigence here. We’re seeing evidence that the Palestinian Arabs don’t want a state, whatever their claims to the contrary. They simply want to squeeze and weaken Israel, by attempting to delegitimize her and to bring the ire of the international community down on her.
Understand: the PA would have been been required to sign off on “end of conflict” and to recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish state in return for this land. These are things the PA will never do. And so there will always be a reason why a deal cannot be accepted.
The response to Kerry’s speech by Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the PLO Executive Council, provides a stunning example of how readily PLO officials reject proposals as “inadequate.” Hey, if a proposal is “inadequate,” it cannot be em
Declared Barghouti, “The concluding principles [of Kerry’s talk] were not something we could agree with.” Consider:
Kerry spoke of dividing Jerusalem so that it would be the capital of two states. Ah, but he doesn’t say that the division will be exactly on the “67 border,” and nothing less can be accepted.
Kerry proposes that the plight of the “refugees” be recognized, but suggests that most would receive compensation. But Barghouti says this is insufficient, because you cannot deny refugees the right to return to their homes. These individuals, I point out, are refugees in name only (descendants of refugees, and so identified by UNRWA) who have never been in the “homes” referred to, which no longer exist in any event.
But lastly, and most significantly, ”recognition of Israel as a Jewish state would deny the right of the Palestinian people who are citizens of Israel and that is totally unacceptable.”
And there you have it. Of course, Barghouti is wrong. “The Palestinian people” who are Israeli citizens have full human and civil rights in the land. They simply do not have political or national rights. They are treated as individual citizens who happen to be Muslim or Christian and are ethnically Arab. This is absolutely legitimate, and we could easily find a dozen similar examples in other countries.
But what we’re seeing here is an absolute intransigence. And all of Kerry’s talk in the end cannot hide this reality.
More recently, Netanyahu also made a concession. In November of 2009, at Obama’s request, he imposed a 10-month building freeze in Judea and Samaria. It was supposed to bring Abbas to the table. But Mahmoud stayed away for nine months, and then registered a demand (which was not honored) that there should be an extension of the freeze. Clear evidence of a failure of good intentions.
Naturally, Kerry does not mention this, either.
The joke is that now, after Kerry’s speech, Abbas, assuming he has the upper hand, has announced:
“The minute the Israeli government agrees to cease all settlement activities… and agrees to implement the signed agreements on the basis of mutual reciprocity, the Palestinian leadership stands ready to resume permanent status negotiations on the basis of international law and relevant international legality resolutions… under a specified timeframe.”
Credit: press tv
I’m not even sure what all his doubletalk means. But if Israel responds at all, it will be with a diplomatic version of “in your dreams, buddy.”
And there is one last point. Kerry says terms cannot be imposed, that resolution of the conflict must be via direct negotiations. Why, then, lay out a plan that anticipates what the end result “should” be. All he has done is to make the PA feel empowered.
If there is any bright spot in Kerry’s talk it would be – as I am reading it – a denial of any intent by the Obama administration to withhold a veto on any other Security Council resolution concerning the conflict.
Kerry suggests as much, but we have it more definitively from US Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes. He claims that Obama will veto any Security Council resolution that recognizes a Palestinian state or dictates the terms of negotiations.
Let us hope so. There have been some pretty serious rumors about games Obama was still planning at the UN. If he now thinks better of it, I would say it’s not because he has suddenly become more circumspect about interfering this way. My own guess would be that it has to do with concerns about repercussions. Who knows what messages have even been received from Trump’s team. Merely speculation.
On a perhaps relevant note, I mention here that Kerry’s speech has been roundly criticized by the British government. A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May indicated that:
“We do not believe…that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this case the construction of settlements, when clearly the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians is so deeply complex.
“…negotiations will only succeed when they are conducted between the two parties.”
But Britain voted for the very one-side Security Council resolution. In fact, according to Douglas Murray, Britain actively conspired with Obama in crafting and encouraging allies to vote for Resolution 2334.
What is going on here? Is this two-faced stance a way of backtracking? Methinks there is more going on than meets the eye.
Then we see that the Foreign Ministry of Russia also criticized Kerry’s talk, saying that it did not help the cause of peace:
“Unfortunately, we can only determine that narrow partisan interests are once again coming into play in Washington…”
Yes, and Russia voted for the Security Council resolution as well.
As my last posting was entitled “A Saga of Bitterness and Hope,” one reader wrote to ask where I saw hope. I see it in two places.
The first is within our own government. Our leaders are angry, and (glory be!) tired of being circumspect in defending our rights. When one is pushed to the wall, one’s spine tends to stiffen. This is the silver lining in the vile UN resolution, and Kerry’s speech too.
Here I would like to share what went up on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Facebook page (emphasis added):
“The anti-Israel resolution that just passed in the UN Security Council is based on the argument that Israel is ‘altering the demographic composition’ of Judea and Samaria.
“The United Nations has consistently ignored the fact that Jews were ethnically cleansed from these territories in 1948, which is why there were no Jews in the area until after 1967.
“Some context: In 1929, Arabs carried out a massacre in Hebron against the Jews who were living there, including women and children, while the British police stood by.
“In 1948, during Israel’s War of Independence, the Jewish residents of Gush Etzion were expelled and murdered. The Arab Legion from Jordan destroyed the Jewish villages of Kaliya (near the Dead Sea) and Atarot (north of Jerusalem). The Arab Legion also ethnically cleansed the Jews who were living in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, and then blew up all of the synagogues there.
“Not a single Jew remained in any of the territories conquered by the invading Arabs in 1948. The reaction of the United Nations to this reality? Silence.
“Another important reminder: The terms of the British Mandate awarded national rights to the Jewish people – and only the Jewish people – in the Land of Israel. The Mandate, which expanded upon the Biblical and historical connection of the Jewish people to its land, was ratified in 1922 by the League of Nations. It was later adopted by the United Nations and until today it is a binding document under international law that defines the international legal status of the Land of Israel.
The United Nations has no legal justification for its decisions, only ignorance and malice.”
Right on, Bibi! Please share the prime minister’s words and the link to his Facebook posting very broadly.
The second cause for hope comes with the message of two consecutive Tweets put out by president-elect Trump (emphasis added):
“We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but…not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (UN)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”
It’s 2017! A happy secular New Year to all.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
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