Saturday, February 8, 2014


Posted By Ruth King on February 7th, 2014 During an interfaith breakfast in Washington on Thursday, President Barack Obama made a point of thanking Secretary of State John Kerry “for his extraordinary passion and principled diplomacy that he’s brought to the cause of peace in the Middle East.” This particular public display of affection was Obama’s response to a barrage of verbal attacks on Kerry this week from Israeli sources. The criticism followed a speech Kerry delivered last Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, in the course of which he issued a veiled threat. If the peace process fails, he said, the call for anti-Israel boycotts would intensify. In addition, he called Israel’s current prosperity and security “illusionary.” Obama’s show of support for Kerry also came on the heels of the recent release of a satirical YouTube clip, produced by the Yesha Council and MyIsrael, in which Kerry is ridiculed for his ignorance and incompetence in relation to Israel and the Palestinians. This parody clearly struck a nerve. When asked about it during a press conference on Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “We find [its] rhetoric unacceptable.” As Kerry’s mouthpiece to the media, she ought to know about unacceptable rhetoric. If anything characterizes her boss’s behavior, it is his pattern of placing the onus on Israel for reaching a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority. Each time he returns from a trip to the region empty-handed — due to unrealistic Palestinian demands — he warns Israel of the consequences it will suffer in the absence of an agreement, such as a third intifada and international boycotts, divestment and sanctions. Then, when members of the Israeli government react negatively to his threats, he huffily denies all allegations and casts aspersions on anyone who dares doubt the sincerity of his support for Israel. This pattern was on display during his interview on Wednesday with CNN’s Jake Tapper. “Israel needs to understand we will always stand by its security needs, but no one should distort what we’re doing or saying because they’re opposed to the peace process or don’t like two states or whatever,” he said. “And, you know, words — I have to tell you, my friend, I’ve been attacked before by people using real bullets, not words, and I am not going to be intimidated. I am not going to stand down with respect to President Obama’s commitment to trying to find peace in the Middle East.” This would appear to be an odd way of reassuring Israel that he is not throwing it under the bus. But then, Kerry is as dim-witted as he is disingenuous and petty. These traits make him a perfect match for Israeli Justice Minister and peace negotiator Tzipi Livni. No wonder she keeps defending him and his positions. During an address on Thursday at Bar-Ilan University, she did the secretary of state proud. Referring first to the approval on Wednesday of construction permits for 550 housing units in existing settlements over the Green Line, she lashed out at “hypocrites” within her government for falsely claiming to support the peace process, while actually derailing it “to the point of no return.” She also asserted that “whoever really wants peace must pay.” The price, she said, was the creation of an Arab state in Judea and Samaria, without which Israel will not be able to remain both Jewish and democratic. “If we don’t come to a decision,” she warned, “the world will decide for us.” Kerry couldn’t have said it better himself. Nor did he have to; Livni went on to castigate the Israeli Right for criticizing “the first foreign diplomat to defend Israeli interests in the international arena.” In a separate interview with Israel Radio, she added emotion to ideology. “Ministers and others are speaking in a way that upsets me as an Israeli,” she said. “There are people who don’t want to reach an agreement; they don’t care what [framework for an agreement that] Kerry will present.” For Livni to parrot Kerry’s message to the world — that hostility to the Jewish state is understandable as long as Palestinian demands are not met — borders on treason. Not only does such an approach hinder Israel’s self-interest during any negotiation process; but Livni is well aware that the Palestinians have not given up on obliterating Israel, a goal that is openly preached in PA-run mosques, media and education system. The irony here is both tragic and comical. Both Kerry and Livni have become targets of Palestinian hatred. Paying even modest lip service to Israeli security concerns will do that. Thursday marked Ronald Reagan’s 103rd birthday. During the National Conference of Christians and Jews in 1982, the then-U.S. president conveyed a very different kind of message from that of Kerry and Livni: “In Israel, free men and women are every day demonstrating the power of courage and faith,” he said. “Back in 1948 when Israel was founded, pundits claimed the new country could never survive. Today, no one questions that Israel is a land of stability and democracy in a region of tyranny and unrest.” Little did Reagan anticipate a time when the American government, and prominent members of Israel’s as well, would be qualifying this statement. Ruthie Blum is the author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’”

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