John Kerry’s Folly

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The entire Middle East is imploding. This past week, alone, scores of people were reportedly killed in protests in Egypt. The Sinai Peninsula which has been the base for a robust smuggling operation into Gaza by the Bedouin population, has become the latest staging ground for a violent confrontation between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian military with more than forty people killed in terror attacks. Over 100,000 people have been brutally slaughtered in internecine Muslim fighting in Syria, which has become a huge humanitarian crisis as refugees spillover into Jordan and Turkey. King Abdullah of Jordan is shivering in a corner, because of the restiveness of his population. Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey is supporting the Sunni terrorists of Hamas and Al Qaeda in Syria.  At the same time he is blackmailing Israel over the Mava Marmara Flotilla incident.  Iran supports the brutal regime of Bashar al Assad and the Shiite terrorists of Hezbollah. Meanwhile, Iran’s centrifuges are rapidly spinning, and as far as we know, Iran might already have crossed over the nuclear threshold.

All of this has nothing whatsoever to do with Israel. Despite the many trip wires that have been established to try to drag Israel into these simmering conflicts,  Israel has, so far, very wisely, refrained from taking the bait. Nothing in these wildly raging conflicts has anything to do with the size, shape, or contours of the map of Israel or the Palestinian problem. Yet what is Secretary of State Kerry’s solution to all of this Middle East chaos? Convene another peace conference between Israel and the Palestinians. Go back to the tired old, failed, refrain of “land for peace”, and ask Israel to make “painful concessions” for the sake of stability in the region.

What is the Palestinian currency in this relationship? It is ephemeral, as are the value of their words and their promises.  By now, we all know how reliable their promises are. Recall the twenty-year old promise that the P.A. made when signing the Oslo Accord that there would be no further incitement to terror; and that from now on all disputes will be resolved around the negotiating table and not through the use of force (and again at Wye, Hebron, Oslo II and the Roadmap to Peace in the Middle East etc.)

We also all know, thanks to the good work of Palestinian Media Watch, (PMW), that these pledges have been violated on a constant and daily basis. They are violated in the media, in the textbooks, on the maps that we all recognize as pre-1967 Israel that are labeled “Palestine” that adorn Abu Mazan’s walls in Ramallah, and that hang in every school. Not a day goes by, where PMW does not send out an alert regarding the Palestinians teaching children some of the most vile things imaginable about Jews and about Israel.

Instead, the same old rug of recycled empty promises is being sold once again in the Middle East souk, (this time in Washington) in exchange for… … for what exactly?

The Israeli currency in this relationship is highly valuable: It is as tangible and as real as the very land they live on.

It is difficult to fathom that after the painful uprooting of over 8,000 residents of Gaza, some of whom have not yet found employment or permanent homes, which has been met with over 10,000 kassam missiles that have rained down on Sderot, Beer Sheva, Ashkelon, and Ashdod, we are pressuring our ally for further withdrawals of the approximately 450,000 residents of Judea, Samaria and parts of Jerusalem.

If the withdrawals would be made, it would leave Israel just 9 miles wide at its narrowest waist. Ben Gurion airport would just be a few kilometers away from Qalqilya, and within easy striking range; as would be the major Israeli population centers on the coastal plane. It would make the Jewish state simply indefensible.

Within this area sits the most sacred sites for not only Jews, but for Christians, as well. If one looks at the treatment of religious minorities throughout the Muslim and Arab world, one wonders why anyone who has respect for one’s heritage could possibly fathom why anyone could ever put these sites on the negotiating table.

Moreover, even before the negotiations began, simply to induce the Palestinians to sit at the table. Israel was asked to release 104 terrorists who have engaged in some of the most heinous acts imaginable to mankind. Perhaps for diplomats it is easy to discuss such “sacrifices for peace” in vague and academic terms. But to the average Israeli, this would be tantamount to releasing 104 Dzhokhar Tsarnaevs’, the Boston bomber.

But let us put faces to numbers.  Take just two men on the list of prisoners considered for release, Juma Ada and Mohamad Kharbish.  In 1988, these two men threw a Molotov cocktail onto a bus. Rachel Weiss, a young mother, and her three children, Ephrayim Wiess, Raphael Wiess, and Netanel Wiess were burned alive.  A brave Israeli soldier David DeLarosa was killed as well, when he attempted to rescue them. The other victims were severely injured, in part because Kharbish and Ada had mixed glue in with the gasoline of the firebomb. Among those victims were Dov and Sandy Bloom, two Americans. Both faced five weeks in the hospital, followed by years of therapy and skin grafts.

Consider another two of the 104 terrorists up for release, Al-Haaj Othman Amar Mustafa and Damara Ibrahim Mustafa Bilal. These men found 48-year old Washington-born Fredric Rosenfeld, who served his country in the Marine Corps, while he was hiking in the hills near his home in Ariel. They chatted with him, took pictures with him, and then stole his own knife and stabbed him to death.

These are innocent victims, American victims, of terror.  Nor are they alone. Almost all of the terrorists scheduled for release have committed acts just as brutal. To seek the release of their tormentors, not for peace, but for the mere hope of discussing the prospect of negotiating about peace, is abhorrent.

This is Kerry’s folly. Tearing open the mental wounds of terror victims in order to engage in a process which cannot lead to peace.  Through the many negotiations that have gone before the Palestinians have already been promised more than Israel can securely afford to surrender, an Israeli retreat to the 1949 armistice line, which would make Israel’s borders totally indefensible.

When negotiations finally begin, we can predict that yet more Palestinian demands will appear. s Including the right of return (as promised in footnote #5 of the “Saudi” Peace plan.). By now the rosters of descendants of Palestinian refugees has been swollen to millions, which would be a demographic nightmare for the Jewish state.

There will always be another “concession” for the Israelis to make. Because the Palestinians cannot agree to give up their most cherished demands.

Which brings us to another factor: these lands which many erroneously feel that Israel occupies have within the some of the most cherished sites of Jewish history. How did we ever allow Jerusalem to be on the negotiating table? M y grandfather would have given his right arm to have had the opportunity to visit the Western Wall.

We, as a people, have got to learn to have enough pride in our own heritage to say out loud that we cherish these Holy sites… If Al Qaeda were to attack the United States, would we say, “Here…take Mt. Rushmore…take the Statue of Liberty.”

The Jewish people have longed for 2,000 years to go back to these sites. Jerusalem should never have been put on the negotiating table. If we make ourselves doormats, people, particularly in that violent region of the world, will walk all over us.

Some may argue that “talking is always better than not talking”. That is patently false. Because with each successive negotiation, the bar is set higher and higher in Palestinian demands. It would make it extremely difficult for any Israeli interlocutor, particularly with the predictable pattern of violence after the negotiations have broken up to come back to the Israeli people and save face, with an agreement. And it would make it extremely difficult for any Palestinian interlocutor to go back to his people, and save face, with less than had been rejected by Arafat and Abu Mazen, in the past.

Beyond that, expectations are raised with each successive negotiation, which sets the ground for the possibility of more violence. And more innocent people die on the ground.

This might be Secretary of State John Kerry’s folly, but that is no laughing matter.

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About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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