Weasel of state
Headlines in the Israeli press on March 14, 2014:
Kerry: ‘Mistake’ to use Jewish state recognition as deal breaker – Ha’aretz
Kerry: Netanyahu wrong to insist Palestinians recognize Israel as Jewish state – The Jerusalem Post
You should tread more carefully, John Kerry.
You have already made quite a name for yourself, jetting in and out of Israel what, 11 times already, or is it 12? In any case more than any of your predecessors except perhaps for Henry, who set the trend?
In nearly 13 months as secretary of state, you have left none of us in any doubt about the depth of your resolve to secure a ‘peace’ agreement between Israel and the PLO.
You have positioned yourself smilingly next to Israel’s prime minister and foreign minister, justice minister and other ministers, before taking them “inside” and twisting their arms, employing both your carrots and your sticks
This is all fair and above board, of course, fitting your job description.
On top of that, you have spoken quite effusively at least once or twice about how special Israel is to you, and how solid are the ties that bind her to the United States. (O, how they do bind her!)
No one can doubt that you chose to make our little corner of the world (rather than South Sudan or North Korea or the Ukraine) your go-to spot – the place where you hope to enshrine your name.
But you know, John, there is a well-known adjective for someone big and powerful who, instead of standing up to other big and powerful (and nasty) people, prefers to direct his influence and pressure against a smaller, trusting friend.
We call it bullying.
You have crossed the line a few times in your ‘zeal’ – twice handing Israel’s enemies the excuse to ‘justifiably’ perpetrate acts of hostility and animosity towards us: once in November 2013, when you ‘asked’ Israel whether she “want[ed] another intifada,” and in January this year when you publicly warned Israel that her policies would lead to boycotts and sanctions against her.
But your latest two-step has earned you the label – on the lips of a friend reading the headlines this morning – ‘weasel.’
When affixed to a person, it means someone “deceitful or treacherous.”
Which is what your most recent behavior suggests. Until just a couple of weeks ago, you indicated yourself supportive of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s basic and reasonable demand, that the Arabs who have dedicated decades to killing the Jews and seeking to destroy their country (the PLO) must, if they truly wish to make peace with Israel, recognize her as a JEWISH state.
But then your dream of being ‘The One’ to oversee an end to the 100 plus year conflict seemed to be fading.
Either that, or the crisis in Crimea plucked the victor’s wreath from your head (and the Jewish state from the fire).
I am not sure whether you really believed yourself a more able secretary than all those men (plus Madeleine, Condoleezza and Hillary) who have gone before you, but if you did, this recent realization must have been a cold shower.
And it possibly explains why, just one day after acknowledging that, despite all your efforts, the gaps separating Israel and the PLO remain a gulf, you have now turned on Israel, unleashing this? No surprise really, you have the motive and the opportunity to commit the crime. I (think I) understand your frustration and perhaps even the fear of imminent failure.
But your sudden insistence, and slur, that Israel stop “using the issue of Jewish state recognition as a deal breaker” is disingenuous at best.
These are your reported words when you were asked to state the Obama administration’s official position on the issue:
“I think it’s a mistake for some people to be, you know, raising it again and again as the critical decider of their attitude towards the possibility of a state and peace, and we’ve obviously made that clear.”
By “some people” you mean the democratically elected leader of the State of Israel.
By “again and again” you mean that Netanyahu has remained consistent on this, yielding not a bit.
“Critical decider?” Is that what Ha’aretz (with its contacts in your State Department) translates a “deal breaker?” Or are you saying that Netanyahu is using this demand purposely to stymie your peace-making efforts?
That’s a pretty steep charge, if it’s what you are saying.
Let’s make believe it’s not, and that the lefties at Ha’aretz are twisting your words to suit their own anti-Zionist agenda.
According to them, you added that the whole issue of the Jewishness of the State of Israel “was resolved in 1947, referring to UN Resolution 181 that divided Palestine into two states, one for Jews and one for Arabs,” and you reminded your audience “of former PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat’s recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in 1988.”
Now just a minute. As even Ha’aretz wrote in today’s report, you “adopted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that Israel be recognised as a Jewish state back in December during a visit to Israel, and later turned to the Saudis and Jordan asking them to support Palestinian recognition.
Yet your statement today comes a week after Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas made it clear there was “no way” he would recognize Israel as a Jewish state, a statement subsequently ratified by the Arab League.
According to the same report, your spokeswoman Jen Psaki shifted the goals to line up with the PA’s position when she then said “the US considers Israel as a Jewish state, but doesn’t require the Palestinians to do so.”
Again, you effort to wriggle out of something you got into is understandable if deplorable.
But IF, as you now choose to hold, recognizing the Jewish state is not a big deal; IF it was de facto recognized in UN Resolution 181, and IF Arafat already recognized it –
Then WHY does Abbas absolutely refuse to say he recognizes it too?
Surely he isn’t trying to be more Yasser than Arafat?
Mr Kerry, you are certainly leaving a mark as Secretary of State in the second Obama administration. Look at the pattern:
Iran does not want to lose face, so you (and your colleagues among the Powers) let it be known that you will let them carry on bragging about how they are going to continue enrichment, and that you will be quiet while they verbally threaten Israel’s destruction, because you don’t want to hurt their pride.
For after all, “everyone knows” that when it comes to the Muslims of the Middle East, it is all about pride. They can’t help themselves.
And I guess it’s the same approach you are employing with Abbas. The terrorist-in-a-tie got up in a tree when he said he would “never” recognize the JEWISH state, and you don’t want to hurt his pride, because that would weaken him in the face of his own people and increase the risk of someone worse (like the Hamas) taking full control over the ‘Palestinian population’ – so you will support him and pander to him and not insist that he recognize the JEWISH state because, chas ve chalila (God forbid) you don’t want to have to contend with a worse devil than this one.
As a footnote, I think it is interesting that the famous Ha’aretz columnist Ari Shavit wrote, on the 20th of last month, about how Arafat implicitly DID recognise the need for Israel to preserve its Jewishness half a year before he died.
Commented this prominent and anything but right-wing Israeli:
Huge pressure is now being exerted day and night on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept a border he abominates. In parallel, huge pressure must be applied to PA President Mahmoud Abbas to grant the recognition he refuses to grant.
Therefore, Arafat’s precedent-setting statement is exceptionally important right now.
What Arafat permitted, Abbas cannot forbid. The current Palestinian Authority president must say explicitly what his predecessor said implicitly.
Peace? There won’t be any peace if Abbas doesn’t follow in Arafat’s footsteps and say that Israel is a Jewish state whose Jewish character must be preserved.
Over the past several months, John Kerry has succeeded in doing the impossible. The ambitious US secretary of state demonstrated leadership, determination, creativity and an exceptional spirit of sticking to the mission. Via a unique combination of sticks, carrots and emotional intelligence, he has brought the Israeli prime minister to places no one would have believed it was possible to bring him.
But in order to achieve peace, that same unique combination of sticks, carrots and emotional intelligence must be applied to the Palestinian Authority president.
This very day, in Paris, he must be presented [by Kerry] with Arafat’s statement to Ha’aretz and be compelled to adopt it.” (The Arafat precedent – Ha’aretz, February 20, 2014)
It’s very likely that you, Mr Secretary, would have been informed of Shavit’s words (he is that influential here).
So did you bring pressure to bear on Abbas, pressure that he, unlike Netanyahu (as it is asserted) was able to withstand?
Is this why you have now taken the heat off the Arab, and directed it back on the Jew?