An Open Letter to Secretary of State John Kerry
by Isi Leibler
Dear Mr. Secretary,
Over the next week or so, you will be unveiling a U.S. proposal for a “framework agreement” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as a prelude to a final status arrangement.
Before you do so, I encourage you to realistically consider the issues that gravely concern most Israelis, and to believe wholeheartedly that Israelis genuinely yearn for peace and will overwhelmingly endorse a plan that separates them from the Palestinians, provided their security is ensured.
Unfortunately, Mr. Secretary, you and the administration you represent are operating on premises that are misguided or false. President Barack Obama has deluded himself into believing that this conflict is essentially about real estate, an idea that has been disproved many times, most clearly when Palestinian Presidents Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas rebuffed Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert’s offers to relinquish 95 percent of the territories formerly occupied by Jordan.
As befits a mediator, you have lavished praise on Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, and repeatedly stated that both parties are willing to make sacrifices to achieve peace. But alas, this assertion repeated endlessly by all parties including Israelis, is simply false and contributes towards the “Alice in Wonderland” environment surrounding this issue which suppresses reality.
Dismissing political correctness, the fact is that our “peace partner” is a corrupt authoritarian regime that brutally suppresses dissent. Over the years, the Palestinians’ corrupt officials have diverted a substantial portion of billions of dollars of international aid to private, offshore accounts. This corrupt entity could collapse at any time, and the constitutional term of office of its president has long expired.
Our “peace partner” is indisputably committed to the elimination of Jewish sovereignty in the region. That is why Palestinian leaders so adamantly refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Abbas even denies that the Jewish people have a biblical or historical link to the land.
Our “peace partner” continuously assures its adherents that Israel’s destruction is inevitable. Abbas has learned that he can better work toward this goal by exerting duplicitous diplomatic pressure on Israel than by engaging in terrorism. Through this deceitful diplomacy, he is attempting to dismantle Israel in stages, a strategy the majority in his government openly supports. Indeed, in the unlikely event that Abbas finalizes an agreement that waives additional claims and pronounces the end of the dispute, there is little doubt that he will be assassinated.
I urge you, Mr. Secretary, to face the harsh reality that by American and Western standards, through intense propaganda, the Palestinians have engineered what can only be defined as a criminal society. All sectors of Palestinian society — the government, religious networks, the media, the educational system — engage in brainwashing the Palestinian people, from kindergarten age up, into regarding Israelis as demonic monsters and sanctifying fanatic Islamic suicide bombers and terrorists as martyrs. Just last week, your colleague, the official Palestinian spokesman, Saeb Erekat, whipped up fervor by accusing Israel of having murdered Arafat and speculating that we would kill Abbas.
Mr. Secretary, can you imagine an American government making peace with a neighboring government that provides salaries from humanitarian funds for incarcerated murderers of American citizens, and pensions to their families? Would Americans approve their government negotiating with a neighbor whose leader personally embraced and hailed as national heroes those convicted of barbarically murdering American civilians? Would Americans contemplate making peace with a neighbor that imposes the death penalty on citizens who sell land to Americans?
Bear in mind, Mr. Secretary, that nearly half of Palestine comprises “Hamastan,” the genocidal, Islamic fundamentalist entity that occupies the Gaza Strip and from which missiles against our cities are still being launched. Were it not for an Israeli military presence in the area, Hamas already would have wrested control of other areas currently under Palestinian Authority control. Hamas remains dedicated to the destruction of Israel, and sanctions the murder of Jews everywhere. Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar recently proclaimed that “any deal inked between the Palestinian Authority and Israel would be nonbinding for the Palestinian people.”
Mr. Secretary, you have put pressure on us to make outrageous concessions under absurd conditions. You have forced our hand in releasing mass murderers in order to “induce” a hostile neighbor to agree to commence negotiations. Can you morally justify freeing terrorists convicted of killing women and children? Could you visualize the response of Americans to an outside party that pressured their government to act in this manner?
Mr. Secretary, during your numerous visits to the region, you have insisted that you would never be party to a policy that undermines Israel’s long-term security. But this is precisely what you are proposing.
You do not take any account of the unpleasant reality that our “partner,” the corrupt PA, could collapse or be taken over by Hamas at any time should the Israel Defense Forces totally withdraw from the area.
But setting that aside Mr. Secretary, you are now suggesting that more sophisticated technology combined with an international, possibly American force, replace the IDF in sensitive areas.
Israel has never asked America or any other country to fight on its behalf. We are profoundly conscious of the fact that we can rely only upon ourselves in the event of military attack. It is inconceivable for us to contemplate subcontracting any aspect of our security to a third party, including the U.S.
Nor can technological advances alone protect our borders. While U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 implicitly provides for secure, defensible borders, adherence to the 1949 armistice lines, which give Israel a mere 9-to-15-mile-wide waistline, will place future generations at peril. And it is imperative that we retain depth and an IDF presence in the Jordan Valley. These border issues are absolutely fundamental to Israel’s security.
In addition, Mr. Secretary, I find it difficult to comprehend your knee-jerk responses to housing construction for Israeli citizens in Israel’s capital and areas over the Green Line that will always remain part of Israel. This issue appears to weigh more heavily on your mind than the carnage and sectarian violence taking place throughout the Mideast region, with hundreds of thousands of people brutally killed in Syria, which borders us.
The Oslo Accords never precluded settlement construction. And while Israelis are divided over construction in isolated settlements in disputed areas, they are pained that our American ally contributes to the global hysteria around this issue — even when the construction in question is taking place in Jerusalem’s Jewish suburbs.
Many long-standing friends of the U.S. currently believe that the Obama administration has contributed to our regional chaos. Many of your staunchest Arab allies have lost faith in you. We pray that we may be wrong, but to us and many others, the U.S. gamble with Iran appears an impending disaster.
I respectfully suggest, Mr. Secretary, that you pause before advising Israel on what is in her best interest. (Imagine where we would be today had Israel shared your optimism about Syrian President Bashar Assad and taken your advice to cede the Golan Heights.)
Israel’s relationship and friendship with the U.S. is profound and based on genuine shared values. We are also deeply reliant on American military and diplomatic support, and greatly appreciate that the military aid provided by the Obama administration has exceeded that of its predecessors.
But we believe that the American people understand that Israel cannot afford to continue to make unilateral concessions, to accept the Palestinians’ stubborn refusal to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state, to accede to their unrelenting demand for the right of return, or to compromise on long-term security issues.
Mr. Secretary, please do not attempt to score an unattainable foreign policy achievement. In the absence of Palestinian concessions on critical issues, a solution simply is not possible and should your initiatives undermine Israeli security, you will leave a legacy as the U.S. secretary of state who abandoned the one and only genuine democracy and U.S. ally in the Middle East.
We hope that you will concentrate on seeking interim solutions, encouraging mutual economic projects to improve Palestinian living standards and maintaining the channels for dialogue so that progress can be achieved should a more accommodating Palestinian leadership emerge.
I urge you to set aside conventional political correctness to appreciate that our concerns are for the lives of our children and grandchildren, the future of our nation. I pray that you will contribute to our realization of the biblical vision of the Prophet Isaiah, and enable Israelis and Palestinians to set aside their weapons, and work together for the social and economic betterment of all inhabitants of the region.
Isi Leibler’s website can be viewed at www.wordfromjerusalem.com. He may be contacted at email@example.com. This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.