What does Kerry think he is doing?


"Why is it then that US Secretary of State John Kerry is so eager to push both parties into another set of negotiations that are highly likely to be not only unproductive but counterproductive, by fuelling Palestinian anger by their failure and thus bringing us a step closer to the inevitable third intifada? The answer is simple. The United States needs Israel and the Palestinian Authority to start negotiations for the sake of negotiations well before the UN General Assembly convenes in September so that it can be spared another major embarrassment on the issue of Palestinian statehood when the General Assembly convenes. If Kerry can demonstrate that an American-sponsored peace process is underway he can forestall criticism both of Israel and of the United States in the General Assembly for lack of progress toward Palestinian statehood.
The primary reason for the Kerry initiative is to deflect international criticism of the United States for its failure to stop Israeli colonisation of the West Bank which is rendering Palestinian statehood impossible. It has become increasingly clear to seasoned observers of the Middle East that Washington's inability to make a dent in Israel's settlement policy is not only a question of the tail wagging the dog; it demonstrates that on the Palestine issue the dog and the tail have switched roles.
"  Mohammad Ayoub in Al-Jazeera


A retired career ambassador with experience in the ME chided me recently for incessant pessimism.  He specifically mentioned Kerry's current attack on this "windmill."  I told him that it was understandable that policy people like him should insist on hoping that someday money would grow on trees or that there would be a chicken in every pot, but I also told him that as a long experienced intelligence person I was not inclined by habit to do other than describe present reality or probable futures.

IMO, the Natanyahu government does not intend to allow the creation of a Palestinian state that would have the attributes of an independent country, i.e., armed forces, borders that it controls, unfettered economic development, control of its own government finances, currency, contiguous territory free of the occupation of foreign (Israeli) troops,control of its own air space, and an independent foreign policy.  Shall I continue?  I do not blame the Israelis for this.  They know what they are.  This is a religio-nationalist settler state.  They are less and less abashed about saying this.  Michael Oren was very firm on television this week in insisting that Jews are an ethnic people, not a religious group and that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish ethnic group.  I applaud his honesty, but Israel remains a strange ally for the United States, a country in which the central government is suing Texas for supposedly seeking to favor one ethnic group over others.

What the Israelis are willing to "give," the Palestinians will not accept.  That is what Israel expects.  The Palestinians know this but have been strong-armed into the Washington circus. 

John Kerry's heart's desire rests beyond his reach.  pl         



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26 Responses to What does Kerry think he is doing?

  1. Matthew says:

    Col: The whole charade is toxic and utterly devoid of the (necesary) hard-hearted empathy. Note this psycho-babble: See http://blogs.forward.com/jj-goldberg/181298/kerrys-bond-with-top-aide-and-a-legendary-dad/
    “Kerry is genuinely worried that Israel will lose its Jewish character,” said a source who has known Kerry since his days as chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee. “True, he is doing what he is doing because the American administration is afraid the Middle East could go up in flames if a Palestinian state isn’t created, but there is also a very significant Jewish element for him.”
    Try not to gag.

  2. Al Arabist says:

    Being well-heeled in a “by the book” way, he’s returning social and political favors granted by brother Cameron and his friends. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cameron_Kerry

  3. mbrenner says:

    Absolutely right on all counts. The only other element that I’d add is Obama’s personal wish to deflect criticism that he has neglected the Palestine issue – and to fill out a chapter in his memoirs. he gave the game away during his Spring visit when he said not a word about the settlements – thereby immunizing the Israelis from anything serious arising from the talks.

  4. Fred says:

    Based on Ambassador Oren’s truthful statement, to quote from above: “Michael Oren was very firm on television this week in insisting that Jews are an ethnic people, not a religious group and that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish ethnic group.” What is a reasonable assessment of how long before the chickens come home, i.e. Western Europeans and the US realize just what Israel has become and give up their collective guilt over the Holocaust and start focusing upon their own national interests?

  5. JohnH says:

    Thanks for your insights on Kerry’s machinations. The specter of Bibi entering into negotiations was surreal!
    We can expect the Palestinians to blamed for the early collapse of the negotiations, thereby sparing the General Assembly of any need to act in their behalf.

  6. IMO Israel as currently existing is a Theocracy. Perhaps am wrong.
    From the perspective of the theocratic government, “God himself is recognized as the head” of the state,[1] hence the term theocracy, from the Greek θεοκρατία “rule of God”, a term used by Josephus for the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.[2]
    Taken literally or strictly, theocracy means rule by God or gods and refers primarily to an internal “rule of the heart”, especially in its biblical application. The common, generic use of the term, as defined above in terms of rule by a church or analogous religious leadership, would be more accurately described as an ecclesiocracy.[3]
    In a pure theocracy, the civil leader is believed to have a direct personal connection with God. For example, the prophet Moses led the Israelites, and the prophet Muhammad ruled the early Muslims. Law proclaimed by the ruler is also considered a divine revelation, and hence the law of God. An ecclesiocracy, on the other hand, is a situation where the religious leaders assume a leading role in the state, but do not claim that they are instruments of divine revelation. For example, the prince-bishops of the European Middle Ages, where the bishop was also the temporal ruler. Such a state may use the administrative hierarchy of the religion for its own administration, or it may have two ‘arms,’ — administrators and clergy—but with the state administrative hierarchy subordinate to the religious hierarchy. The papacy in the Papal States occupied a middle ground between theocracy and ecclesiocracy, since the pope did not claim he was a prophet who received revelation from God and translated it into civil law.

  7. Discussion is from extract of Wikipedia Dictionary definition of “Theocracy”!

  8. Stephanie says:

    In fairness to Israel it’s hardly a theocracy. And I’m sure if Ben-Gurion had had a crystal ball he’d not have ceded to the Orthodox the rights and authority he did. He thought they’d all be gone in a few decades or be a picturesque sideshow for the tourist trade like the Amish. Oops.
    Bustling about trying to solve, or trying to appear to solve, the Israel-Palestine problem is a bug that recent American presidents seem to get in their second terms. In addition Kerry seems to wish to emulate his predecessor HRC by hopping on every available plane. Since at every turn actual American policy in this matter tends to subvert the stated American policy of peace and moreover the US is universally acknowledged, except by the US and Israel, not to be an honest broker, all this activity would seem to be pointless, but there you are.

  9. Charles I says:

    Are you saying new peace process admin point man Martin Indyk, former Amb to Israel is not an honest broker?!
    Get in line.
    Israeli Deputy Minister Slams Possible Involvement of Martin Indyk in Peace Talks, Calls for ‘Honest Broker’
    July 22, 2013 7:22 pm
    avatar Algemeiner Staff
    Media reports that former United States Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk has been selected by the Obama administration to lead new negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority announced Friday, have elicited strong opposition, including from an Israeli deputy minister, The Algemeiner has learned.
    Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon penned a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposing a scenario whereby Indyk would take on the pivotal role in the talks, citing the veteran politician’s chairmanship at the New Israel Fund, an organization which has been criticized for supporting organizations that seek to harm the Jewish state.
    “The former ambassador, Mr. Martin Indyk, is the Chair of the International Council of the New Israel Fund which provides funding to anti-Zionist organizations that accuse Israel of war crimes,” wrote Danon in the letter.
    “I request that you ask the American administration for an honest broker for these negotiations,” he demanded.
    “The fact that he it is a board member of the New Israel Fund makes him an inappropriate person to be the point man of the United States for the peace talks,” said Ronen Shoval, Founder and Chairman of Im Tirtzu, a major Israeli Zionist organization that has been active in opposing the work of the NIF, “being as he (Indyk) is known to the Israeli public as someone that is related to the New Israel Fund which supports anti-Israeli organizations.”
    “We call on this administration to appoint someone who is not known to have a relationship with an organization that is known as an anti Israeli organization,” he requested, adding, ”We are sure that there are plenty of worthy candidates that are not connected to the New Israel Fund.”
    Shoval explained why his organization has opposed the NIF saying, “They supported organizations that falsely blamed Israel for war crimes in the Goldstone report. They are funding organizations that are trying to get Israeli soldiers and officials arrested in certain countries, and they are supporting organizations that are active in the BDS movement and Israel apartheid week.
    Oy vey.

  10. Fred says:

    Interesting choice of Francis Crick. From the look of things that spiritual neuroscience is working out almost as well as all that political science. Given how our policy is working out I suspect there is something in the water; or the kool aid .

  11. Not soon enough Fred. But so long as Israeli owned companies remain entrenched in the US surveillance framework, they’ll “own” all the political and media players they need to never worry about giving up collective guilt.

  12. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think you do not appreciate the extent and depth of the influence of Rabbinate in Israel.
    It is precisely to avoid an explicitly theocratic state that there is no constitution in Israel – just a set of “Fundamental Laws” – grafted to the body of Ottoman and English Law.

  13. robt willmann says:

    The publication of “criticism” that Martin Indyk is anti-Israel is one of the oldest tricks in the book. He will take positions that the government of Israel wants.
    Quite a few years ago in an interview that Brian Lamb did on C-Span, the guest said that religious Jews in Israel were a minority and that secular (atheistic) Israelis were in a clear majority, although I am running on memory and cannot remember the guest or find a copy of the interview. If so, this may be part of the reason why Michael Oren spoke of an “ethnic group”.
    On a slightly related note, this past Saturday, 27 July, Col. George E. “Bud” Day passed away in Florida. A veteran of World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War, Col. Day received the Medal of Honor and the Air Force Cross. He was shot down in Vietnam, was a POW, and an exceptionally tough individual. He was a vocal opponent of John Kerry and appeared in a TV ad against Kerry in the 2004 election.
    Bud Day had also gone to law school and when the federal government stripped veterans of some medical benefits and told them to go get Medicare, Day filed a class action lawsuit against the U.S. government. I think he won in the trial court but the court of appeals reversed it. Subsequently, Congress may have taken some remedial action regarding the subject matter of his case.
    Bud Day appears at the 38 second point in the ad–

  14. mbrenner says:

    Re Martin Indyk
    A few years ago, I wrote a commentary about Indyk in the Huffington Post in similar circumstances. It follows:
    The Obama administration is turning its alchemic powers toward Palestine. It is aiming to fashion a ‘success’ out of the shambles created by its lame failure to stand up to the Israeli government of Bibi Netanyahu. This is the sternest test to date of its talent at conjuring virtual realities. A tip-off as to what the latest Middle East machinations are about was provided by Martin Indyk, former Ambassador to Jerusalem, whose featured op ed in The New York Times last week made waves by optimistically forecasting that peace is at hand. Looked at together with recent White House statements it reveals what magical feats we have to look forward to.
    Martin Indyk is an institution in the capital. The embodiment of the Washington consensus on Israel and all matters that touch on its self-defined interests – as reflected through the American prism. He is the authoritative figure whose views are eagerly sought by ‘serious’ journalists. Indyk habitually deviates by only a few degrees from the prevailing line in Jerusalem/Washington line. When something big is in the diplomatic works, something ginned up by the two governments, he normally is there to lend it his weight.
    Now that Obama and Netanyahu have contrived another virtual peace process, he has come forward to offer his judgment that peace indeed is to be had. The initiative badly needs a supposedly authoritative seal of approval. For it is nonsensical to think that anything close to a meaningful agreement and stable settlement cam emerge from current conditions. Let’s remind ourselves of its cardinal features. An ultra right Israeli government headed by an avowed opponent to any serious concessions at whose side is Foreign Minister and governmental no. 2, Avigdor Lieberman, who has been described as a “Jewish fascist” by the most honest and prescient of Israeli commentators –Uri Avnery. That is one. An American president who has been humiliated repeatedly and personally by Netanyahu who holds over his head the drawn sword of the Israeli lobby. Obama was stared down on the settlements, cowed into submission to the point where he reflexively swallowed whole, and publicly parroted word by word the Jerusalem spin on the Gaza flotilla affair. That is two. Mushrooming Israeli settlements (all illegal) on the West Bank that, along with collateral infrastructure, have eaten up a large fraction of Palestinian land. Those ‘facts on the ground’ are three. Then there is the hapless Mr. Abbas – used as a dish rag by both the Israelis and Americans – whose sole value for them is as signatory of an accord composed and issued jointly by Netanyahu and Obama. The fact that Abbas’ authority has been shredded by his repeated forced obeisance to the will of the Palestinians’ keepers is conveniently overlooked. A nominal President whose writ, such as it is, runs for only half the people and territory of Palestine he officially represents, he still will suffice for the legal formalities to be met. That is four.
    This revised plot is just a variation of what Obama had in mind from the outset. Curt Israeli rejection of the White House idea of a settlement freeze denied Washington the political cover it had sought for the operation. Unwilling to stand up to the Israelis, the Obama administration has decided to plunge ahead nonetheless. That is to say, press a contrived agreement with a pliable if discredited PLO leadership that ignores Hamas. The so-called Palestinian ‘entity’ on the West Bank would be string of Bantustans. The self-serving assumption remains that when the Gazans are presented with this fait accompli, they will abandon their elected Hamas leaders for the sake of survival. The solid phalanx of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan will be called upon to play their assigned role of putting the squeeze on the Gazans as the other part of the vise. If they prove stiff necked and balk, they will be locked in their cage indefinitely – a policy that Washington has backed whole heartedly for three and a half years.
    This is the latest Washington exercise in manufacturing fanciful ‘successes’ a la Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc. The confected nature of the advertised goal explains how and why Hillary Clinton could pronounce that there definitely will be an agreement within the year. It explains how and why Obama had the nerve to call Netanyahu “someone ready to make sacrifices for peace” during the former’s latest visit to Washington. What these statements signal is that before the 2012 campaign season gets underway, the Obama people are prepared to say with a straight face that they have achieved an historic breakthrough – no matter what. Commentaries like Martin Indyk’s are there to brush on the first cosmetic layers that build a foundation for the artistic rendering of whatever ignoble outcome comes to pass.

  15. turcopolier says:

    Indyk, IMO, is an obvious, AIPAC/Zionist operative like Dennis Ross, and James Woolsey. I guess Ross has become so obvious in this way that it is imagined that Indyk is a better choice. This choice shows how trivial and insincere the whole Kerry circus really is. This choice will indicate to the Palestinians that the US is intent on screwing them again. What on earth does Obama think he is doing? pl

  16. Matthew says:

    Col: I think Obama is bribing the Palestinians to forestall them seeking relief at the UN and with the EU.

  17. turcopolier says:

    your thought has merit. pl

  18. Lord Curzon says:

    To answer your question, I think the old adage “If in doubt, look busy!” applies.

  19. toto says:

    ” the Israel-Palestine problem is a bug that recent American presidents seem to get in their second terms.”
    Well, in their defense, the US political landscape is such that any kind of push towards a Palestinian state in their first term would be nearly suicidal in a tight re-election fight.

  20. Alba Etie says:

    For a pretty good while perhaps a month or two ; recently the Chinese were supposed to be starting their own peace process with Abu Mazen & others – what happened to this effort ?

  21. turcopolier says:

    The US does not allow such interference. pl

  22. jdledell says:

    Pat – What Netanyahu has told various politicians from the right wing of Likud as well as Yisrael Beiteinu and Habayit Hayehudi is not to worry about the negotiations. That was why he got through the prisoner release that the vast majority of Israelis are dead set against. He could have offered a settlement freeze instead but that would go against his strategic plan. Listening to these politicians when they give talks at shul, is the only way to discern the real truth of their positions. They are surprisingly open in these sessions.
    The reason not to worry is that Netanyahu has promised that the maximum he will go is to give the Palestinians a temporary deal that involves only area A and not including East Jerusalem. This gives the Palestinians 3% of the West Bank in approximately 57 non-contiguous enclaves – basically each Palestinian village and city. Bibi will promise that Israel will build roads so Palestinians can travel between cities and after Palestinians prove their ability to manage these areas negotiations will proceed on other conflict issues.
    The timing of these promises will obviously follow the next snow storm in Hell. I heard Danny Danon say a couple months ago that Israel will control everything and everyone that enters or exits Area A. He also said he hopes the economic strangulation of these enclaves would encourage Palestinians to leave.
    That, in short, is all this charade involves. What a terrible waste of American prestige.

  23. turcopolier says:

    that sounds like my post. pl

  24. Bill H says:

    Regarding the title: putting “Kerry” and “think” is the same sentence is just wierd.

  25. Matthew says:

    jdledell: Wow, I doubt even the American Task Force for Palestine would accept such a generous offer.
    A thoughtful post, as usual. And deeply depressing. Best wishes.

  26. Stephanie!
    In your comment for which I thank you the following appears:
    “In fairness to Israel it’s hardly a theocracy. And I’m sure if Ben-Gurion had had a crystal ball he’d not have ceded to the Orthodox the rights and authority he did. He thought they’d all be gone in a few decades or be a picturesque sideshow for the tourist trade like the Amish. Oops.”
    I have known quite a few women who married Jew who were or became Israeli Citizens. All were denied Israeli citizenship because their mothers were not Jewish by religion. Not sure of the review process but the official decision was not appealable or reversible and some ending up divorcing and returning to the STATES.
    And thanks again R Whitman for you insights.

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