Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the annual American Jewish Community Global Forum on Monday, June 3rd. He focused on the limited time he believes the Palestinians and Israelis have to come up with a workable “two-state solution.”
So I want to ask you this: Whenever you think about this challenge and how hard it is, think about what will happen if it doesn’t work. We will find ourselves in a negative spiral of responses and counter-responses that could literally slam the door on a two-state solution, having already agreed, I think, that there isn’t a one-state one. And the insidious campaign to de-legitimize Israel will only gain steam. Israel will be left to choose between being a Jewish state or a democratic state…
Personally, I believe the two-state solution is dead, and was probably never viable. The “negative spiral” he cites is an ongoing death spiral of what might have been Democratic Israel, with equal rights for all its citizens.
The ultra-Orthodox are growing in numbers, population percentage and political power. They do not want a two-state solution. They want to expel the Palestinian Christians and Muslims, either across the Jordan into other countries, or onto increasingly smaller allotments, similar to the former South African Bantustans, or the kinds of Indian reservations one finds in upstate New York, or along the California coast. So that they can have their ethnically cleansed, and – in their minds – pure Judea and Samaria.
Kerry’s pandering to American Zionist and Israeli concerns about Palestinian United Nations efforts (and their widening support), and over the rapid growth of the Global BDS movement, by referring to these efforts as “insidious,” is countered by his acknowledging that hostile reaction to Israeli actions is “gaining steam.”
Kerry paints the growing isolation of Israel and its few supporters glumly, without acknowledging why this is happening [emphasis added]:
So before anyone gives up on this hope, we have to ask whether we are prepared to live with permanent conflict, with the possibility of widespread civil disobedience, with the possibility of a civil rights movement that grows in the West Bank, with the possibility of another intifada always looming around the corner. If the parties don’t agree to come back to the table, the Palestinians have already said that they will go to the UN and seek to join more UN organizations, where, despite the best efforts of the United States, they will probably get more votes in their favor than they got last time. And last time, we only got nine votes against. And the Palestinians have also threatened to take their case to the International Criminal Court.
Why is “the possibility of a civil rights movement that grows in the West Bank” a bad thing, in the face of the continuing land confiscations, ghettoization, repression and random violence that Palestinians face daily?
Overall, it is a well put-together, very well delivered speech. However, it offers nothing imaginative regarding the dangerous impasse with Iran. It is more than a bit too obsequious. But it is no more of that than any typical speech about Israel by any leading American politician:
The recent dog-and-pony show of Tony Blair and John Kerry boasting a multi-billion-dollar, multi-year Palestinian development plan, preceded Kerry’s Forum speech, which was informed of Blair’s and Kerry’s “plan” in its content. The announcement, made at the World Economic Forum in Amman, Jordan, hasn’t gotten much press coverage. Max Blumenthal wrote a detailed article about it last weekend, in which he describes Kerry’s Amman speech:
In a speech brimming with optimism, Kerry introduced an ambitious initiative that promised to turn the whole situation around. Calling it, “Breaking The Impasse,” Kerry claimed the plan would triple tourism to the occupied Palestinian territories, double or triple Palestinian agriculture production, increase the Palestinian GDP by 50 percent, and foster the construction of a whopping 100,000 new, energy efficient Palestinian homes in the West Bank.
Kerry gushed about a dream team of “experts” that had supposedly gathered to implement the project. Pushing back against the naysayers, he asked, “Is this a fantasy? I don’t think so, because there are already great examples of investment and entrepreneurship that are working in the West Bank. We know it can be done, but we’ve never experienced the kind of concentrated effort that this group is talking about bringing to the table.”
Tony Blair has been peddling similar bullshit for years now, but the money never comes. Thomas Friedman came out with a New York Times op-ed today that frets, as does Kerry, about the fact that Israel is rapidly becoming a pariah state. Unlike Kerry, Friedman doesn’t quite characterize the growing disenchantment as “insidious” or “de-legitimization.” He does mildly chastise physicist Stephen Hawken, though, for boycotting a recent event in Israel:
I strongly disagree with what Hawking did. Israelis should be challenged not boycotted.
Friedman sees hard times coming for Israel diplomatically, if not militarily.
Underlying Kerry’s speeches at the two fora, and Friedman’s op-ed is a frustration with the rise of the ultra-Orthodox in Israeli political power that they dare not mention. Until world leaders and pundits in positions to influence events become more honest about this, peace between Israelis and Palestinians is going nowhere.