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April 29, 2014 12:36 am
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Peace Now or Never?

avatar by Jerold Auerbach

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat. Photo: State Department.

Respected Ha’aretz journalist Ari Shavit has made a startling confession: he was wrong about the prospects for peace with the Palestinians that he, like so many Israelis and diaspora Jews on the left, has vigorously advocated. Ever since Labor party politician Yossi Beilin revealed, for his private scrutiny, the peace plan to which Mahmoud Abbas had ostensibly agreed seventeen years ago, Shavit has been a true believer in peace now.

As he recently wrote (April 24): “people as steadfast as us don’t give up on our dreams.” Despite the subsequent failure of the Camp David peace summit (2000), Abbas’s failure to sign the Geneva Accord (2003), and his refusal to accept Ehud Olmert’s virtual surrender offer (2008), the Israeli Left  swallowed one hollow Palestinian promise after another. “Have we opened our eyes?” Shavit asks, before providing the obvious answer: “Of course not.” Relentlessly blaming Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Likud party for every failure in the current so-called peace process, the gullible Left believed that  Abbas surely would not dare to say no to John Kerry. But it was, once again, wrong.

“The Palestinian president’s position is clear and consistent,” Shavit finally understands: “The Palestinians must not be required to make concessions.” Shavit  wisely, if  belatedly, concludes that “twenty years of fruitless talks have led to nothing.” But many others, he claims, “haven’t learned a thing. They’re still allowing Abbas to make fools of them, as they wait for the Palestinian Godot, who will never show up.”

Surely the leading candidate for the Fool Award, even as he relentlessly pursues the Nobel Prize, is Secretary of State John Kerry. By now, his strategy is as obvious as it is absurd: whenever Abbas flees from negotiations, blame Israel. But Kerry’s prophecy of imminent Israeli doom if the Jewish State fails to follow his prescription has by now become as stale as it is malevolent. Last year Kerry predicted a third intifada if Israel remained recalcitrant. Then he warned that if negotiations failed, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction Movement against Israel would succeed. He followed with the erroneous statement that “demographics are on the Palestinian side” if Israel does not yield to Palestinian demands.

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The most recent example of Kerry’s animus came during his appearance before the Trilateral Commission. According to Josh Rogin of The Daily Beast, who obtained a recording of the Secretary’s statement, Kerry outrageously proclaimed that if Israel did not make peace soon, it could become “an apartheid state.” But the Secretary did not bestow an apartheid label on the Palestinian Authority, which has vowed not to permit a single Jew to live within its borders. It is worth noting that before he became President even Barack Obama, not known then or since for his warm embrace of Israel, rejected the “emotionally loaded, historically inaccurate” reference to Israel as an “apartheid state.”

But that was only the beginning of Kerry’s doom-and-gloom diatribe. If Israel balked at an agreement, he continued, its citizens might confront a new wave of Palestinian violence. The conflict, after all, was Israel’s fault for building settlements. Kerry seemed oblivious to Palestinian unwillingness to make peace with the Jewish state in 1948 or  1967, before the first settlement was built – or as long ago as 1937, when the British Mandatory Authority proposed a draconian partition of the Jewish homeland that Palestinians instantly rejected.

It is hardly news that the Secretary of State has abdicated his responsibility as a fair-minded peacemaker, the better to bludgeon Israel. More noteworthy, and praiseworthy,  is Ari Shavit’s evident readiness to relinquish his own deeply embedded leftist political fantasies in light of Palestinian realities that persistently elude John Kerry.

Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of Jewish State Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy, just published by Quid Pro Books.

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