Secretary Kerry’s Suspension of Disbelief
The term “suspension of disbelief” refers to the intentional subordination of critical thinking, documented fact and common sense to one’s zeal and wishful-thinking; one sacrifices realism at the altar of oversimplification and short-term gratification and convenience. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Dec. 28 speech is guilty of just that, being totally inconsistent with Middle East reality, but consistent with the secretary’s 31-year foreign policy track record.
While serving as a senator, Kerry was a frequent-flyer to Damascus, where he allowed his own idyllic vision of the globe and his hosts’ duplicitous rhetoric to cloud reality. He has contended that Hafez and Bashar al-Assad – two of the world’s most ferocious, cold-blooded dictators — were constructive leaders, having referred to Bashar, who terrorizes his own people and facilitated the infiltration into Iraq of Islamic terrorists whose aim was to murder Americans, as a generous reformer and a man of his word. In March 2011, Kerry stated: “My judgment is that Syria will move, Syria will change as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the US and the West.” Indeed, Syria has changed, but contrary to Kerry’s optimistic assessment, the change was the murder of 400,000 and the creation of 10 million refugees.
In his 1997 book, The New War (available on Amazon for $0.01), Kerry demonstrated his inclination to dismiss the writing on the wall when it was in conflict with his wishful thinking: “Terrorist organizations with specific political agendas may be encouraged and emboldened by Yasser Arafat’s transformation from outlaw to statesman.”
In 2012, Kerry contended that the Arab Street was transitioning toward democracy, calling it “the most important geo-strategic shift since the fall of the Berlin Wall.” He referred to the Arab Tsunami as an Arab Spring and described the regime changes in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen as youth-driven, Facebook revolutions. Kerry also supported regime-change in Libya, which has transformed that country into a leading global platform of Islamic terrorism.
Now for the critical pitfalls of Secretary Kerry’s roadmap to peace in Israel:
1. In his Dec. 28 speech, Kerry maintained that a lack of trust is at the crux of the failure to conclude a peace agreement: “Negotiations [between Israel and the Palestinian Authority] did not fail because gaps were too wide, but because the level of trust was too low.”
2. Apparently, Kerry takes lightly the Palestinian leadership’s failure to pass any crucial test of its commitment to peaceful coexistence – in 1993 (Oslo Accords), 2000 (Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s unprecedented proposals) and 2005 (the uprooting of all Jewish settlements from Gaza) – by responding to unparalleled Israeli territorial and diplomatic concessions with a dramatic escalation of hate education and terrorism. But, such a Palestinian track record should be expected, due to the leadership’s notorious incitement of violent, which has created a most effective production-line of terrorists and is the most authentic reflection of the Palestinians’ strategic goals.
3. Contrary to the secretary’s observation, the crux of the failure has been the inherent nature of the Palestinian leadership, proven by its track record of anti-Jewish terrorism, augmented by collaboration with Nazi Germany, the USSR and East European rogue Communist regimes, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Saddam Hussein, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, as well as Asian, African, European and Latin American Islamic terror organizations.
4. While Palestinian leaders are welcomed by the US State Department with a “red carpet,” Arab leaders welcome them with “shabby rugs” due to the Palestinians’ violent back-stabbing of their Arab hosts (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and most painfully, Kuwait in 1990).
5. Kerry stated that “the two state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians….The vote in the UN was about preserving the two-state solution….The US did vote in accordance with our values.” However, the aforementioned Palestinian leadership track record certifies that a Palestinian state would be another rogue, violent regime, undermining US values and national security, adding fuel to the regional fire, constituting a lethal threat to the vulnerable pro-US Hashemite regime – with potential spillover into Saudi Arabia and the pro-US Gulf states – undermining stability in Egypt, upgrading the potential of a pro-Ayatollah bloc from Teheran to Ramallah, providing port facilities to the Russian (and possibly Chinese and Iranian) navy in the Eastern Mediterranean and adding another anti-US vote at the already anti-American UN.
6. Once again, Secretary Kerry attempted to scare the Jewish state into reckless concessions, implying that the only way to preserve a Jewish demographic majority is by conceding the Jewish geography in the towering mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria. Once again, Kerry regurgitates inauthentic, manipulated Palestinian statistics, and ignores the demographic reality of the combined areas of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel, which actually shows an up-trending 66% Jewish majority and an unprecedented westernization of the Arab population.
7. Kerry misled the public when claiming that UN Security Council Resolution 242 “called for the withdrawal of Israel from territory that it occupied in 1967 in return for peace and secure borders.” Kerry failed to indicate that 242 did not stipulate all the territories; that Israel has already complied with 242 by conceding 90% of the territory in evacuating the entire Sinai Peninsula; and that Israel fought a defensive/preemptive war in 1967. He failed to mention that in 1988 Jordan waived its claim to sovereignty over Judea and Samaria (which was only ever recognized by Britain and Pakistan); and that Israel possesses the best legal title over the area based on Articles 77 and 80 of the UN Charter, which uphold the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine aimed at establishing a Jewish national home.
8. While Kerry attempted to coax Israel into reliance on security arrangements and guarantees, he failed to indicate that such tools are characterized by non-specificity, non-automaticity and ample escape routes, which may doom Israel on a rainy day. For example, the NATO treaty does not commit the US beyond considering steps on behalf of an attacked NATO member “as it deems necessary.” Furthermore, US policy is changeable from one administration to the next, as when President Dwight Eisenhower concluded a defense treaty with Taiwan, only for it to be annulled by President Jimmy Carter with the support of Congress and the US Supreme Court.
American and Israeli national security, and the pursuit of peace, require long-term, tenacious commitment to realism, in defiance of oversimplification, short-term convenience and suspension of disbelief. We must avoid, rather than repeat, critical past errors, which doomed a litany of well-meaning peace initiatives.
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger lives in Jerusalem, Israel. He is the author of Second Thought: US-Israel Initiative. Yoram will be in the US in 2017 and is available for speaking engagements. A version of this article originally appeared in Israel Hayom.