The columnist Michael Kinsley is reputed to have said that “a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth.”

Earlier this week  an Israeli newspaper leaked private comments that Israel’s Defense Minister, Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon made critical of Secretary of State John Kerry and expressing skepticism towards security guarantees proposed by Kerry:

“The American security plan presented to us is not worth the paper it’s written on,” Ya’alon said. “It contains no peace and no security. Only our continued presence in Judea and Samaria and the River Jordan will endure that Ben-Gurion Airport and Netanya don’t become targets for rockets from every direction.”

The description of Kerry by Ya’alon as “… determined and acting out of misplaced obsession and messianic fervor…” has caused a diplomatic row, even though the comments were made privately.

The State Department expressed offense at Ya’alon’s reputed remarks:

The remarks of the Defense Minister if accurate are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel’s security needs,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Given the heat he was taking, Ya’alon issued an apology asserting that he intended no offense.

(My Right Word reminds us that President Obama, a few years ago, affirmed an ad hominem attack on Prime Minister Netanyahu made by then French-President Nicholas Sarkozy.)

The American claim is hypocritical. Kerry returned to Arab-Israeli peacemaking after taking a break to reach a deal with Iran that leaves most of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in place, despite Israel’s belief that such a deal was bad for its and the world’s security. After having ignored Prime Minister Netanyahu’s concerns regarding Iran it takes a lot of chutzpah to claim that the United States is addressing “Israel’s security needs.”

But the outrage is misplaced.

Last Friday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made a speech in which he 1) insisted that “East Jerusalem” be the capital of a future Palestinian state 2) rejected an American backed proposal that he recognize Israel as a Jewish state and 3) asserted that he would never give up the Palestinian “right of return.”

The extreme positions of this speech prompted Jonathan D. Halevi to write:

The Palestinian strategy has been revealed in full. The current political negotiations, or any future negotiations, cannot bring about a signed, stable, and lasting political agreement that will bring an end to the conflict and all claims. The first Palestinian objective in their order of priorities is to receive full sovereignty on the territory of 1967 – while leaving the conflict wide open.

Adding insult to injury, it’s been reported that Abbas is already preparing to bring unilateral pressure against Israel when the talks fail.

If the State Department was unhappy with Abbas’s open defiance of its peace making efforts, it hasn’t been reported. Worse, statements by Kerry have encouraged Abbas to resist making any concessions. Last year Kerry said that he was worried about Israel’s future if there would be no peace deal but never expressed any such concern about “Palestine’s” future in case no deal was reached. When murderous terrorists were celebrated by the Palestinians Authority (PA), Kerry expressed no such concern about the kind of society Abbas was creating, though it concerned Ya’alon. Clearly, Abbas can take a hint that Kerry deems peace essential for Israel, so he can keep refusing to make peace and expect the Secretary of State to push Israel to be more generous, for its own good.

The State Department’s complaint that the United States is taking Israel’s security needs into account doesn’t just fail on its own, but is an especially poor argument when it comes to Ya’alon. Gen. Ya’alon was the head of Israel’s military intelligence in the post-Oslo 1990’s. He saw Arafat’s duplicity. In one celebrated case, Ya’alon and then foreign minister, Shimon Peres met with Yasser Arafat and his henchman Mohammed Dahlan. The Israelis demanded that Arafat arrest a dangerous terrorist named Mohammed Deif. Arafat turned to Dahlan and feigned ignorance, even though Ya’alon had intelligence that Arafat met with Deif a few days earlier.

Ya’alon also objected to the unilateral disengagement from Gaza. The subsequent two wars Israel had to fight against Hamas to protect its southern citizens vindicated his critique.

After what Ya’alon’s seen – from the perspective of someone in charge of Israel’s security and seeing his skepticism, unfortunately, vindicated – the State Department has no business lecturing him about security.

As far as Kerry’s insistence on pursuing peacemaking no matter how many times he’s been rebuffed by the Palestinians, it may be messianic, it could also be insanity.

[Photo: U.S. Department of State / WikiCommons ]