By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
The term “suspension of disbelief” refers to well-intentioned subordination of documented-facts and common sense to one’s zeal and wishful-thinking: sacrificing long-term realism on the altar of oversimplification and short-term gratification and convenience.
Secretary Kerry’s December 28, 2016 speech was replete with suspension of disbelief, totally inconsistent with Middle East reality, but consistent with the Secretary’s 31-year foreign policy track record.
Secretary John Kerry’s Middle East track record:
Kerry was the top frequent-flying Senator to Damascus, allowing his own idyllic vision of the globe and his hosts’ duplicitous rhetoric to cloud reality. He contended that Hafez and Bashar Assad – two of the most ferocious, cold-blooded dictators in the world - were constructive leaders, referring to Bashar Assad as a generous reformer and a man of his word, while Bashar terrorized his people and facilitated the infiltration into Iraq of Islamic terrorists, whose aim was to murder Americans. 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 assessment, with 400,000 deaths and 10MN refugees out of 18 million Syrians.
In his 1997 book, The New War (sold by Amazon for $0.01), Kerry demonstrated inclination to dismiss the writing on the wall when in conflict with 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, “the most important geo-strategic shift since the fall of the Berlin Wall.” He referred to the Arab Tsunami as an Arab Spring and to the regime change in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen as youth and Facebook revolutions. Kerry supported regime-change in Libya, which has transformed Libya into a leading global platform of Islamic terrorism.
Critical pitfalls of Secretary Kerry’s roadmap to peace:
1. In his December 28, 2016 speech, Secretary Kerry maintained that the crux of the failure to conclude a peace agreement is lack of trust: “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 failure of the Palestinian leadership to pass any of the 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. Such a Palestinian track record should be expected due to the notorious hate-education and incitement, which has been a most effective production-line of terrorists, and is the most authentic reflection of the Palestinian strategic goal.
3. Contrary to the Secretary’s observation, the crux of the failure has been the inherent nature of the Palestinian leadership, highlighted by its long-term track record: from waves of anti-Jewish terrorism, through the collaboration with Nazi Germany, the USSR and the East European rogue Communist regimes, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Saddam Hussein, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and Islamic, Asian, African, European and Latin American terror organizations.
4. While Palestinian leaders are welcome by the US State Department with a “red carpet,” Arab leaders welcome them with “shabby rugs” in response to the Palestinian violent back-stabbing of 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, west of the Jordan River, 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-US UN.
6. Once again, Secretary Kerry attempts to scare the Jewish State into reckless concessions, implying that the only way to preserve Jewish demography (majority) is by conceding Jewish geography (the over-towering mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria). Once again, he reverberates inauthentic, manipulated Palestinian statistics, and therefore ignores the demographic reality in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel: an up-trending 66% Jewish majority, featuring an unprecedented Westernization of Arab demography and a robust Jewish demographic (fertility and net-migration).
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 conceded 90% of the territory by 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 recognized only 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 upholds the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, aimed to establish a Jewish national home.
8. While Kerry attempts to coax Israel into reliance on security arrangements and guarantees, he fails 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, in 1954, President Eisenhower concluded a defense treaty with Taiwan, to be annulled by President Carter with the support of Congress and the US Supreme Court.
The US’ and Israel’s 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; avoiding rather than repeating critical past errors, which doomed a litany of well-meaning peace initiatives.