By Larry Gordon
This John Kerry peace agreement drama and brewing fiasco unfolding before our eyes is a combination of déjà vu and Obama administration boneheaded bumbling.
I mean, it just has everything in it. It is a diplomatic chess match, with one day Israel ahead and the next the Palestinians and their international supporters nudging into the lead. Actually, I’d rather have seen a Kerry–Abbas meeting in Ramallah broadcast live this past Sunday night than that big yawn of a Super Bowl.
There is little if anything new taking place here other than that the Palestinians are threatening to go to the International Criminal Court to harass Israel and its diplomats and flirting with the idea of declaring a state on the property of another already existing one, that is Israel.
And then there is the seemingly devious and horrid inclination to accelerate the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement that would like more than anything else to isolate and do economic damage to Israel. All BDS really amounts to is a tweaked form of Jew-hatred, which has never really abated in circles where anti-Semites are found flourishing.
So the threat that is supposed to scare Israel into making wild and crazy concessions to the Arabs is really about Israel being isolated and alone in the world with no one to look to or count on. That’s a little odd, considering that according to our ancient prophets this is Israel’s precise destiny, and what is taking place and perhaps even coming to a peak now is that exact Divine design. If there is a downside to any of this, it is that Israel’s leaders are unaware of the gift the world wants to present to them, that is no place to turn to except G‑d Al‑mighty above.
Perhaps at this point it was not wise for Israel to go at it alone, but now it looks like things are rapidly changing. Look, whether we like it or not, whether we believe it to be politically astute or in Israel’s natural best interest, Israel will have to dwell alone. And that is the direction in which John Kerry is now driving the Jewish state, and we can rest assured that he has absolutely no idea in which direction his efforts will propel these matters.
The prophecy about Israel’s national loneliness was first uttered as recorded in the Torah in the portion of Balak, where the gentile prophet Bilam was retained to curse the Jewish nation so as to prevent their eventual conquering of the Promised Land.
Bilam’s intention was to curse and do damage to the Jews. But he could not do that, and instead the words that would spill out of him were a blessing to the Jewish people.
It may not look to us as though we are living during biblical times, but just because we have had our perspectives myopically obscured does not mean that there is not something very special going on here. This is not just standard, old-fashioned disdain for Jews or Israel at play.
And that is especially true of how it has become acceptable, even fashionable, to evade the truth in the interest of political expediency and winning elections. So it is to be expected that whatever Kerry is trying to accomplish today in Israel will only minimally resemble truth. Believe it or not, even that is reassuring.
For example, Kerry’s comments in Munich over the last weekend that Israel would suffer irreparably if the BDS movement grew and succeeded were objected to by parties within and without the Israeli government. What it comes down to is the “honest broker”—Mr. Kerry and the U.S.—signaling to Israel’s enemies that if Israel does not capitulate to international pressure and make significant territorial concessions, the world will not object to a boycott of Israel, despite its illegal nature.
Just about every initiative undertaken by the Obama administration has either stalled or failed. Whether it is Obamacare, immigration, the IRS scandal, the murders in Benghazi, or the inability to work with Congress, there seems to be just one hope still alive as President Obama becomes the earliest lame-duck president in the history of this country.
And that is the hope that Israel will give up, surrender, and collapse so that Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry can proclaim that after 20 years of nonstop efforts since Oslo I, they and only they were able to forge a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. That accomplishing this is near impossible without jeopardizing every citizen in the state of Israel is a minor detail that the U.S. will quickly trample over in order to be able to proclaim a desperate victory.
Why pick on Israel and Jews to salvage an administration that has been an utter disaster from the start? Well, why not?
Though this is diplomacy gone wild, it is still fascinating to observe as each layer of the negotiated onion skin gets peeled away only to lo and behold reveal another layer to be peeled.
So, what are the biggest obstacles to making certain that this grand Kerry–Obama Initiative continues to chase its own tail while making certain that Israel remains alone and apart? There are indeed many.
First of all, Hamas, which controls Gaza and where 60% of the Palestinians reside, has reiterated this week that it is opposed to any kind of peace arrangement with Israel. So even if Mr. Kerry achieves a breakthrough and seals a deal between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Abu Mazen, of what purpose is a peace agreement with less than half of the people who gladly profess to be the enemies of the Jewish state? I don’t recall President Ronald Reagan beseeching the Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev in his famous Berlin Wall speech by saying, “Mr. President, tear down 40% of this wall.” That would have been wholly unworkable.
Even more odd is the claim this week by lead Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who said that even if there was an agreement, his side could never recognize Israel as a Jewish state or the national homeland of the Jewish people. He said—and I read it a few times just to make sure I understood the depth of the nonsense—that it was racist on Israel’s part to require that the Arabs recognize a Jewish state as belonging to Jews. Erekat said that by insisting on this position, Israel was violating the Palestinians’ right to their cause, which is their struggle to take all of Israel from the Jews. Now if there ever existed a recipe for lasting peace, this has to be it.
And then there is our reliable old friend in the New York Times, who for all his insight and intelligence never ceases to get it all wrong. Thomas Friedman writes on Wednesday that the third intifada has already gotten under way and that this third one will be worse than the previous two that resulted in the murder of 1,500 Jews and the injuring of thousands more. The third intifada, Friedman writes, is a non-violent one and consists of “resistance and economic boycott.”
Friedman fails to point out or perhaps he just cannot see that the talk of these types of threats slows peace instead of facilitating and expediting it. And he adds that the continuing construction in settlement communities exacerbates the situation more than anything else.
That is all fine and good, except for the fact that it is not true. As a condition of these new talks with Abbas, Israel was given a choice to either freeze settlement construction or release 104 Arab murderers from prison. The quiet deal was that the killers go free while construction goes on. If an agreement is reached that says at the conclusion that there will be no more building in settlements, then so be it. But one cannot say that the agreed premise of the talks between the parties is a violation in and of itself of the basis for the negotiations. That is, unless Mr. Erekat is in charge of the Palestinian Reasoning Department.
Economists in Israel say that Israel has the wherewithal to endure and indeed thrive even as the BDS campaigns grow and increase. Bilam said it thousands of years ago, and his words ring true—Israel must dwell alone. On this matter, Rashi comments in Bamidbar that “when all other nations will disappear, Israel will not share that fate.” This, he says, may also be the ideal conditions for Israel to maintain her spiritual identity and the pressure of becoming just like all the other nations of the world.
The Netziv, Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Berlin, wrote in the late 1800s that “separateness is a necessity for Jewish survival.” So we have quite a diplomatic boondoggle at play here. And with the Olympics getting under way this week in Sochi, Russia, it might be apt to borrow one of their tried and true phrases—“Let the games begin.” v
Comments for Larry Gordon are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.