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John Kerry’s Long Knives

John Kerry’s Long Knives

When All Else Fails, Blame Bibi

For nine months Secretary of State John Kerry shepherded talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Along the way he let it slip that if talks failed Israel could  face a third intifada, further isolation, or international opprobrium. Of course he didn’t want to sound like a bully so he also let everyone know that he was concerned about Israel’s future. Now the peace process is suspended and Fatah has embraced Hamas and John Kerry’s staff have their long knives out for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In interviews with Israeli columnist Nahum Barnea, unnamed American officials ripped Israel’s government.

“The negotiations had to start with a decision to freeze settlement construction. We thought that we couldn’t achieve that because of the current makeup of the Israeli government, so we gave up. We didn’t realize Netanyahu was using the announcements of tenders for settlement construction as a way to ensure the survival of his own government. We didn’t realize continuing construction allowed ministers in his government to very effectively sabotage the success of the talks.

“There are a lot of reasons for the peace effort’s failure, but people in Israel shouldn’t ignore the bitter truth – the primary sabotage came from the settlements. The Palestinians don’t believe that Israel really intends to let them found a state when, at the same time, it is building settlements on the territory meant for that state. We’re talking about the announcement of 14,000 housing units, no less. Only now, after talks blew up, did we learn that this is also about expropriating land on a large scale. That does not reconcile with the agreement.

And there was this:

“I guess we need another intifada to create the circumstances that would allow progress.

“20 years after the Oslo Accords, new game rules and facts on the ground were created that are deeply entrenched. This reality is very difficult for the Palestinians and very convenient for Israel.”

Those nasty statements from Kerry then, weren’t careless slips, but expressions of deeply held beliefs. Rather undiplomatic of him. I know that Barnea’s interlocutor is referring to Israel when he mentions “new game rules and facts on the ground.” This is one of the frustrating aspects of the peace process. There are plenty of new facts on the ground for the Palestinians, but they’re ignored. However dysfunctional, there is now a Palestinian Authority with jurisdiction over the vast majority of Palestinians in the West Bank. But whatever the Palestinians have gained it has come at a great cost to Israel. Withdrawals from the West Bank and later Gaza were followed by increases in terror. Despite the fact that the Palestinians are closer to having a state than they were twenty years ago, Israel is, in some circles, criticized even more harshly than it was then.

And the Palestinians have done little or nothing for their gains. The truth is the opposite of Barnea’s source, the peace process has been difficult for Israel and convenient for the Palestinians.

Though Kerry and the State Department are keen to blame Israel and the Netanyahu government for the failure of the peace talks, the failure is mostly of their own making. Alexander Joffee points out a number of the mistakes that the Americans made in Why [Israeli-Palestinian] Negotiations Collapsed. One of the chief American mistakes was not appreciating the importance of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

Recognizing Israel as a Jewish state is, for Abbas and the Palestinian leadership, if not the majority of Palestinians, a declaration that Jews have historic rights as a nation and a people, not simply a religion. Such a declaration would end the conflict once and for all by mandating that a Jewish nation-state may stand alongside a Palestinian state. And for those reasons it was out of the question.

The American habit of seeing Israel as a Jewish state is comforting, but the inability to understand that Palestinians refuse to do so out of religious convictions that Jews are a religion, not a people entitled to sovereignty in their historic homeland, is absurd. If the Arab-Israeli conflict has a “root cause,” this is it. But American blindness is not surprising, since the religious context of international affairs has never been well-understood by American policymakers, and has, since 9/11, been deliberately obfuscated, denied, and pushed far to the background.

The negotiations spearheaded by Kerry were doomed to fail because of the refusal of the Palestinians to make any compromises, and the State Department’s ignorance of the environment in which it was operating. Having the dagger in Bibi’s back may make Kerry and co. feel better but it won’t bring peace.

[Photo: JewishNewsOne / YouTube ]


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DINORightMarie | May 6, 2014 at 7:14 am

There can be no two-state solution. The Palestinians, the various groups (Hamas, etc.) have all said that they will not tolerate ANY Jewish state. As you say in the last paragraph, the negotiations were doomed to fail because the Palestinians will NEVER compromise.

They want Israel destroyed, gone. That has always been their goal, their purpose, their only “acceptable” outcome.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to DINORightMarie. | May 6, 2014 at 9:53 am

    There is no country called Palestine. There are no Palestinians.

    Other than that, 100% agreement.

    stevewhitemd in reply to DINORightMarie. | May 6, 2014 at 11:24 am

    A Palestinian extremist wants Israel destroyed.

    A Palestinian moderate will allow a two-state solution, provided that Israel then is destroyed.

    I think that about sums it up.

First we need a Secretary of State and a State Department that knows where the capitol of Israel is.
Second we need them and the bogus “Palestinians” to acknowledge Israels right to exist.
Third they need to acknowledge that Israel’s borders are those that existed before the first Arab invasion.
Fouth the need to acknowledge that every time Israel gives up “land for peace” Israel buries more children murdered by Arabs.

    Musson in reply to genes. | May 6, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Didn’t you read the article? What you are proposing is “really hard.”

    I think Kerry and the State Department is too used to getting it’s way by writing both sides a BIG check.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to genes. | May 6, 2014 at 9:56 am

    “Third they need to acknowledge that Israel’s borders are those that existed before the first Arab invasion.”

    Sweet! That means all the land, as far as the eye of any Israeli standing on Mt. Sinai dan see, belongs to Israel.

They canceled the building. Although today is independence day, I’m afraid it is misnamed.

We HAD a freeze for nine month at the start of Obama’s reign. It was horrible; people couldn’t build a porch on their house. People had their money tied up in a house and it was frozen. Lots of human suffering, and for no reason.

Everyone knew Abbas would not, and will not come to the table.


Uncle Samuel | May 6, 2014 at 8:20 am


When a nation’s leadership (USA) calls good evil and evil good, it is a sign they have departed from reality and truth.

To support Islam is to call evil good.

Uncle Samuel | May 6, 2014 at 8:43 am

LOOK what the Obama/Kerry State Department is doing.

Despicable people. Truly mendacious.

First things first. Muslims must repudiate this blasphemous covenant.

Only then will it be possible for a peace process to develop. That is because any time a Palestinian even looks like he is becoming a reasonable person, other Palestinians kill him.

I believe repudiation of the Hamas Covenant is possible. All that is necessary is worldwide publication, and discussion of, the choice bits, along with relentless questioning of Muslim leaders as to whether they agree with those bits. Sunlight is a wonderful disinfectant.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to Valerie. | May 6, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Valerie, the Hamas covenant cannot be repudiated because it is rooted in the Koran. Repudiate the covenant and you repudiate the Koran.

    To have peace, the Koran, the Hadiths, Islam, the mosques, the imams, the madrassas must all be destroyed. Those are the things making peace impossible.

      Yukio Ngaby in reply to Juba Doobai!. | May 6, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      Peace through genocide. You never fail to disappoint.

      How many of the around 1.6 billion Muslims do you wish to kill? All of them? Or are you more moderate? Do you just wish to destroy their religious leaders, burn their texts and masques in front of them as they kneel and tearfully beg for your forgiveness, etc., not unlike Mao’s Cultural Revolution?

      Please find reality and then think about that, rather than your blood-soaked fantasies. There’s no chance for your genocide to take place.

        Juba Doobai! in reply to Yukio Ngaby. | May 6, 2014 at 7:42 pm

        Thank you for misreading my hyperbolic expression of the impossibility of achieving peace with Muslims as a desire for genocide.

        Now I suggest you go and watch videos of Nazi Germany to learn what genocide is. It is not about destruction of books and buildings. It is about wholesale slaughter of a people. Sure, I included the imams as a way to stress the impossibility of the “peace” being realized because these are the guys who preach the cursing and slaughter of non-Muslims that is written into the Koran.

        I have always asserted and will continue to that the problem with Islam is the Koran and the Hadiths. There is no reform possible there because Muslims around the world, called extremists by the foolish, are living out Islam as the Koran and Hadiths teach. The Hamas covenant is a correct and proper expression of the teachings of the Koran vis a vis Israel.

        So, you go take a course in basic comprehension.

          Yukio Ngaby in reply to Juba Doobai!. | May 6, 2014 at 10:28 pm

          Heh. If this is hyperbole, when are you not hyperbolic? Ever?

          And what is this “Nazi Germany” that you speak of? I have never heard of such a thing in my whole life… I shall endeavor to learn all about them by watching the videos “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and that 3rd Holy Grail one.

          Oh, and I don’t need any work on my reading comprehension. I read you loud and clear. It’s not difficult.

          So let’s see you’ve stated here in the past that Muslims are destructive, incompetents who apparently are afflicted/punished with sandstorms and who have to occasionally be purged by the West

          But I’m sure you’d be totally against violence during the coming purges that you’ve predicted, right Marat?

          Oh and btw: “It is not about destruction of books and buildings. It is about wholesale slaughter of a people. Sure, I included the imams as a way to stress the impossibility of the ‘peace’ being realized because these are the guys who preach the cursing and slaughter of non-Muslims that is written into the Koran.”

          Well, the chances of Muslims in the ME just spontaneously giving up their religion are pretty slim… So I guess you ARE that more moderate fellow that wishes to go the Cultural Revolution route. You know, peace can only be achieved by destroying Muslim religious leaders, burning their texts and mosques in front of the masses as they kneel and tearfully beg for your forgiveness, etc. Good for you!

          And to think that I had my doubts about your moderate beliefs and grasp of reality…

Kerry is bitterly disappointed. Oddly, Abbas and the Israelis are not. It’s almost as if they knew all along it would end this way. Perhaps they conspired. Or perhaps, it was obvious to anyone with eyes.

Juba Doobai! | May 6, 2014 at 10:01 am

Kerry has more hair than wit. Obama hates Jews and is a terrorist symp working with the MB.

stevewhitemd | May 6, 2014 at 11:39 am

I find one point consistently humorous: Palestinian “demands”.

Let me explain this to you, Mr. Abbas: your side lost four wars, 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973. We’ll call the Lebanon war a split decision. Your side lost two intifadas. Your side lost the confrontation between Hezbollah and Israel.

Your side lost Black September and the Jordanians threw the PLO out. Your side lost in Lebanon and the Lebanese threw the PLO out. Your side lost in the Kuwait War after which the Kuwaitis threw your people out.

Egypt doesn’t want you. Jordan doesn’t want you. Iraq doesn’t want you. Kuwait doesn’t want you. Syria tolerates you only as long as you are useful. Iran tolerates you because you’re useful even though they think you’re apostates.

Beginning to get the message? You and your people are losers.

Losers don’t get to ‘demand’ much of anything. Pretty much all of human history allows the winners of wars to do what they want.

Indeed, it’s a telling bit of world anti-semitism that Israel, virtually alone amongst all the winners in historical human warfare, is being told what it must give up to get “peace”. I thought it was the job of winners to dictate the terms, not losers.

It would be humorous if it weren’t tragic.

Brad Brzezinski | May 6, 2014 at 12:30 pm

If the Palestinians REALLY wanted a state and Israeli building infringed on it, they would be negotiating as much as possible. Making negotiations themselves contingent upon Israel’s halting all construction (and greatly inconveniencing thousands of people), shows that things are not as they seem and the Palestinians are not reasonable.

Of course Israel is not building in places that the Palestinians have to have and this business of refusing to negotiate without a building freeze, was at the instigation of Obama himself.

    David Gerstman in reply to Brad Brzezinski. | May 6, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Excellent point Brad: “If the Palestinians REALLY wanted a state and Israeli building infringed on it, they would be negotiating as much as possible.”

I can hardly believe it is true that the interview on which this article was based was conducted with top administration negotiators. Can it really, possibly be true that they can says things like “maybe another intfada is needed”. I can’t wrap my head around american diplomats calling on the palestinian arabs to have another war against Israel. Surely not!!???
The reality is so far worse than expected, and I didn’t expect much.
What I don’t understand is why didn’t the Israelis use their time with the Americans to build the American’s understanding of what is going on? Was Martin Indyk always so anti-Israel? If not, what changed him? Also it seems that the interview was conducted with a journalist sympathetic to the diplomat’s views as they were not challenged with suitable follow-up questions. The whole thing is so bizarre. The peace process needs psychologists more than it needs diplomats.

    Yukio Ngaby in reply to RuthC. | May 6, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Believe it. The Obama Admin. is both incompetent AND quite hostile toward Israel. It puts Israel in a very dangerous situation.

Yukio Ngaby | May 6, 2014 at 2:56 pm

“The American habit of seeing Israel as a Jewish state is comforting, but the inability to understand that Palestinians refuse to do so out of religious convictions that Jews are a religion, not a people entitled to sovereignty in their historic homeland, is absurd.”

I wonder if the American policy-makers truly don’t understand that. I think of the U.S. approach to the Israel/Palestinian conflict as largely a vaudeville act– not unlike many American policies during the Cold War. Yes, these vaudeville acts were necessary and kept the US and the West safe– but they were not based wholly on a known reality, but a convenient illusion. And this charade continues in many parts of the world today– in Asia and Africa especially.

I think the main difference now is that prior presidential administrations saw there was little chance for peace and sided firmly (most of the time) with Israel and viewed the country as an ally.

But now the fickle Left is enchanted/frightened of the Palestinians and Muslims (yes, I know they are not interchangable terms, but try explaining that to people who truly believe in identity politics), and now the vaudeville proceeds with State Dept. sympathetic toward the Palestinians and hostile toward Israel.

I really don’t believe anyone truly expected these peace negotiations to pan out, even if they got started. The Israel blame game that Kerry is indulging seems based on saving his own public face (good luck with that) and the Obama Admin.’s very real distaste toward Israel.

Scapegoating and prejudice have been hallmarks of the Obama Administration.

Henry Hawkins | May 6, 2014 at 5:22 pm

With Palestine demanding Israel commit suicide or be murdered as the required baseline foundation for any agreement, yeah, I’m thinking that’s a tough sell. Stupid Israelis, always insisting on their continued existence.