Monday, October 20, 2014

Kerry's latest gaffe

I agree with Israel Economy Minister Naftali Bennett in his criticism of US Secty of State John Kerry.  When I heard Kerry's speech and then when I read his remarks I had two reactions, the first was the same as Bennett, namely Kerry is blaming Israel for the rise of the Islamic State.   Judge for yourself, here is what Kerry said at a meeting in Washington marking the holiday of Id-al-Adha: "As I went around and met people, in the course of our discussions about the ISIL (Islamic State) coalition, the truth is there wasn't a leader I met with in the region who didn't raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians.  It was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation that they felt - and I see a lot of heads nodding - they had to respond to."
It's the same old story, if only Israel would be more accommodating to the Palestinians and give them territory to form a state and make peace with them, then the other conflicts in the Middle East could be resolved.  What nonsense!   Even Kerry's boss, Pres. Obama recenty back-tracked on this, saying in his UN speech, "Understand, the situation in Iraq and Syria and Libya should cure anybody of the illusion that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the main source of problems in the region.  For far too long, that's been used as an excuse to distract people from problems at home."   Bennett put it more succintely " Even when a British Muslim beheads a British Christian there will always be those who blame the Jews."  This is reminiscent of the libel against the Jews for the massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut in 1982, when Christian Phalange militia massacred inhabitants of the camps, but Israel was blamed.
The IS had its origins in al Qaeda, and the recruitment of thousands of Sunni Muslims from the Anbar province of Iraq and from all over the Western world, has nothing whatsoever to do with the so-called Middle East peace process.  This is a superficial form of Arab propaganda, to get the US to bring pressure on Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians.  My second point is that look who Kerry was talking about , "leaders in the region," in other words Arab leaders, and who he was addressing, Muslim leaders.  Of course they were nodding their heads, they are delighted if Israel is blamed by the US Secty of State for their "problems at home."
Several Israeli leaders then jumped in and criticized Bennett for his remarks against Kerry.   FM Lieberman, who is known for his own blunt comments about Kerry and others, seemed unusually restrained and defended Kerry.  Maybe this was internal Israeli politics trumping Israel's interests.  Also Defense Minster Boogie Ya'alon defended Kerry, but this wasn't so surprising either since Ya'alon has also himself in the past criticized Kerry and is on his way for a meetings in the US Administration in Washington.  By defending Kerry he gets himself off the hook. Let's face it, by criticizing Kerry no-one is suggesting that there is anything wrong with the Israel-US relationship and that Israelis are not keenly aware of the strong US support for its position in the Middle East and at the UN.  However, if a politician makes a stupid and errant comment to curry favor with an Arab audience, it is certainly in order to criticize him, whatever self-serving analysis the spokesman of the State Department makes.


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