Sunday, November 29, 2015

Is Kerry reinventing the Middle East? - Yoram Ettinger

by Yoram Ettinger

The reliability of Kerry's policy assessments and recommendations should be appraised within the context of his track record.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's Nov. 24 visit to Jerusalem confirmed his determination to reinvent "the energetic, youthful and forward-looking Middle East" in accordance with his own worldview, irrespective of the reality in the region. Kerry recycles well-intentioned, but failed, assessments and tactics, further eroding the U.S.'s posture of deterrence and its power projection among pro-U.S. Arab countries. 

On Oct. 28, Kerry presented his vision of U.S. policy in the Middle East, convinced that peaceful coexistence can surmount the inherently complex, anti-American, 14-century-old violent and intolerant Islamic Middle East: "Just imagine a future where people from the Nile to Jordan and Euphrates are free to live and work and travel as they choose, where every boy and girl has access to quality education, where visitors are able to flock without fear." 

Kerry's preference for a Middle East policy driven by hope rather than reality was highlighted on Dec. 7, 2013, when he said: "Imagine what a two-state solution will mean for Israel, Palestine, Jordan and the region. Imagine what it would mean for trade, tourism, technology, and for Israeli and Palestinian children."

Kerry's suspension of disbelief triggered a Nov. 21 column by Amir Taheri, the most experienced columnist of the prestigious Saudi daily, Asharq al-Awsat, expressing the views of the House of Saud and the Arab world at large: "What Kerry offers is mediocre poetry ... [commissioning] marketing studies while the whole region is in flames ... a fireman trying to put out the flames, so far without success ... failure on a grand scale. ... Under the deal which Kerry was boasting [of], Iran retains full capacity to build a nuclear arsenal within one year." 

The reliability of Kerry's policy assessments and recommendations should be appraised within the context of his track record. In 1993, unlike Sen. Daniel Inouye, the late chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee who defined the Oslo Accords as "a potential funeral of the Jewish state," then-Senator Kerry embraced PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat as a messenger of peace in defiance of reality, namely Arafat's 40-year trail of terrorism. Moreover, in his 1997 book "The New War," Kerry hailed "Arafat's transformation from outlaw to statesman," ignoring Arafat's real transformation back in the 1970s from regional terrorist to role model of anti-U.S. international terrorism. 

Now, in 2015, Kerry embraces Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as a messenger of peace, in defiance of reality (Abbas' 70-year trail of terrorism, exacerbated by the establishment in 1993 of anti-Israel, anti-U.S. and anti-Semitic Palestinian hate education in kindergartens, schools, mosques and media, which has evolved into the most effective production line of terrorists).

On Oct. 16, 2014, Kerry reiterated his conviction that the Palestinian issue is the crown jewel of Arab policy-making and the core cause of Middle East turbulence -- including Islamic terrorism -- and the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict. 

"As I went around [the Middle East], in the course of our discussions about the anti-ISIL [Islamic State] coalition, there wasn't a leader who did not raise with me, spontaneously, the need to try to get peace between Israel and Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation that they felt -- and I see a lot of nodding [by State Department personnel] -- they had to respond to. And people need to understand the connection of that. And it has something to do with humiliation and denial and absence of dignity," Kerry said. 

Thus, Kerry and those who nod in agreement with him ignore the unbridgeable gap between the Arab talk and the Arab walk on the Palestinian issue, as evidenced by the fact that Arabs shower the Palestinians with rhetoric, but not resources. Contrary to what Kerry and other "Palestine Firsters," may claim, the Palestinian issue has always been a sideshow in the Middle East, as highlighted by the non-Palestinian-related Arab tsunami. Furthermore, Arabs have never launched a war on behalf of Palestinians. In fact, Arabs have launched military operations against Palestinians, whom they have considered a source of subversion and terrorism.

Until 2011, Kerry was one of the very few U.S. legislators who considered the late Syrian President Hafez Assad, and then his son and successor Bashar, to be constructive, peace-driven leaders, pressuring Israel to concede the Golan Heights.

In 2011, once again, Kerry sacrificed Middle East reality on the altar of his own benevolent worldview, welcoming the Arab tsunami -- which has yet to reach its brutal climax -- as the "Arab Spring." He viewed it as a youth revolution, a Facebook revolution, and an ostensible transition toward democracy, bringing an end to ruthless dictatorships and sharing with Arabs the blessings of civil liberties and peaceful coexistence. Kerry supported the successful effort to topple Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi (who transferred his nuclear infrastructure to the U.S. in 2003), which transformed post-Gadhafi Libya into the largest, most lawless platform of Islamic terrorism in the Middle East, spreading terror into Africa, Europe and the rest of the world.

In 2015, Kerry is still determined to ignore Middle East reality, recycling past U.S. initiatives that failed to advance the cause of Israel-Arab peace by highlighting mediation rather than direct negotiation. Kerry overlooks the fact that the only two successful peace accords (Israel-Egypt in 1979 and Israel-Jordan in 1994) were initiated and negotiated directly between the parties. Thus, unintentionally, Kerry's involvement -- featuring the immoral, moral equivalence -- hardens Palestinian positions. It legitimizes and rewards hate education and incitement, which must be uprooted as a prerequisite to real peace, and indirectly fuels Palestinian terrorism.

Yoram Ettinger


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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