Decades ago singer-songwriter Carole King gave voice to her dread:
I feel the earth move under my feet
I feel the sky tumbling down
I feel my heart start to trembling…
That was sort of how some of us felt last weekend when US Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a thinly disguised ultimatum to little Israel – sacrifice your most vital interests or be pronounced a pariah among the nations.
His insolence was underscored by the irony that he issued his cynical warning to the Jewish state from German soil – more specifically from Munich where appeasement-minded democracies once signed a perfidious “peace agreement” that in no time plunged the world into its blackest nightmare.
But, despite keenly orchestrated left-wing panic-mongering, we shouldn’t have been so shocked. We had already been slapped before with Kerry’s every single earth-shaking admonition. Last November 6, for instance, Kerry was interviewed jointly by Israel’s Channel 2 and Palestinian TV. What he said then wasn’t meant as a private off-the-record caution. It was literally broadcast for all to hear and be awed.
Just as now, Kerry then too depicted Israel as obstructionist and obdurate. Without much ado, he imparted the message that Israeli intransigence is the one outstanding obstacle to global peace and prosperity. If his pet project – the so-called peace talks – fails, it will be our fault and we will reap the whirlwind. We will only have ourselves to blame for the calamities we bring on ourselves.
“The alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential of chaos,” Kerry threatened three months ago. “I mean does Israel want a third Intifada?” He added overbearingly: “I’ve got news for you. Today’s status quo will not be tomorrow’s… Israel’s neighbors” will “begin to push in a different way.”
And there was more about the comeuppance we should expect for our reluctance to subordinate our survival prospects to his sayso: “If we do not resolve the issues between Palestinians and Israelis, if we do not find a way to find peace, there will be an increasing isolation of Israel, there will be an increasing campaign of delegitimization of Israel that’s been taking place on an international basis.”
But then came the clincher: “If we do not resolve the question of settlements, and the question of who lives where and how and what rights they have; if we don’t end the presence of Israeli soldiers perpetually within the West Bank, then there will be an increasing feeling that if we cannot get peace with a leadership that is committed to nonviolence, you may wind up with leadership that is committed to violence.”
In Washington’s eyes, he emphasized, the “settlements are illegitimate” and thus “the entire peace process would be easier if these settlements were not taking place.” That means that it would be easier if many Jerusalem neighborhoods too “were not taking place.”
Bottom line, if Israel doesn’t tamely toe the Obama-Kerry line, it will deserve whatever punishment is meted out to it – either via the ostracism of the otherwise loving family of nations or via more carnage in a new terror campaign, which has been a priori justified by the American president and his secretary of state.
There’s not a whit of difference – not even in microscopic nuance – between Kerry’s November and February intimidations. His vocabulary choices may naturally vary and his grammatical constructions may be differently awkward, but it’s the same attempt to scare us and reiterate that the current American administration means business – at Israel’s expense.
And since the entire Arab/Muslim world was then and is now tuned in, we may be forgiven for wondering just what effect Kerry’s endorsement of the “Palestinian narrative” might have on Ramallah’s purported peace negotiators.
Will they discern in Kerry’s bitter scolding of Israel an incentive to greater flexibility on their part? Or will Kerry’s espousal of their propaganda slogans embolden Ramallah’s honchos to remain every bit as emphatically inflexible as they had been hitherto?
Kerry’s support for Ramallah’s continuous and extreme uncompromising stance is moreover colossally paralleled by the spectacle of appeasing Tehran’s nuke-craving regime. Can anyone rationally expect that Iran’s fanatics would be more forthcoming after sanctions were eased and pressure on the ayatollahs has been alleviated?
The chances of that happening are just as promising as were the chances that after the infamous deal contracted at Munich, Hitler would be sated merely with swallowing up the Sudetenland. Chamberlain and his foreign secretary Lord Halifax may have been naïve when they sacrificed Czechoslovakia but the Obama/Kerry duo has no similar excuse to blunder.
Having messed up nearly every country in the Mideast, they appear determined to add Israel to their list of victims. After so many botches in one volatile region it becomes increasingly hard to chalk all this up to stupidity.
Charitable as we may be, we cannot but ascribe their policy to persistent ill will – and that’s putting it exceedingly mildly.
It’s impossible to avoid the impression that Obama helped America’s enemies and betrayed its friends. This is consistent. In country after country, his meddling resulted in destabilization followed by anarchy. Erratic as the Arab/Muslim realm has always been, it had plainly never witnessed anything like its Obama-inspired mayhem.
A quick glimpse at Iraq is enlightening. Its ongoing agony constitutes gory testament to America’s failure to finish what it starts. During the past year an average of 70 bombs went off there each month and the toll in human life has lately approached a thousand a month.
That, of course, pales in comparison to Syria but why quibble? Obama has made commitments he can’t keep regarding every country in the Mideast.
Now he promises Israel syrupy bliss if we only do as he imperiously dictates. Yet why should we trust that our fate would be brighter than that of the Iraqis? In all probability, our plight would actually be incomparably more acute considering that our incredibly narrow country is a mere nine miles wide at its center. It is, furthermore, surrounded by enemies with unconcealed genocidal intent. The Iraqi bloodletting would likely be a trifle scrape in contrast to what awaits us, should we yield to Washington’s ultimatum.
Our existential misfortune obviously would be no skin off Obama’s and Kerry’s noses and in the short haul it would surely confer upon them honors and accolades aplenty. This must partly account for why the two cannot abide the relative calm in this country and its immediate vicinity (like Jordan, which is protected by Israel).
True to their abysmal record so far, they insist on ushering havoc into our midst as well. That’s why Kerry in so many words invited terror and sanctions against uncooperative Israel. To hear him, only Israel is guilty. His solution is simple – Israel must pay. It must pay everything, upfront and in full.
No demands are made of Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority. There’s never a hint of censure against Abbas. Even the hyped American principles of boosting democracy are set aside for his sake. Abbas is now into his tenth year in office as so-called president, although he was last elected (in so-called elections) to a four-year term on January 9, 2005.
Besides not speaking for Gaza, he doesn’t even represent Ramallah. Consequently, even if Abbas were as sincere as a saint, he couldn’t honor his commitments – and this Holocaust-denier and terror-glorifier is hardly a saint. It’s into his hands that Obama/ Kerry would have us entrust our future and that of our children.
An epic victory bash would doubtless be thrown in Washington if Obama/Kerry coerce Binyamin Netanyahu to cravenly capitulate to the deal they impose. But perhaps the much ballyhooed quest for coexistence is just fancy window-dressing. Perhaps the Obama/Kerry pair isn’t even after a lasting peace.
Odds are they’d make do with knocking Netanyahu’s coalition off balance. Their animus towards him is no secret. If they can set the cat among the pigeons, they’ll have come out ahead no matter what. If they trigger Tzipi Livni’s and/or Yair Lapid’s walkout, the coalition collapses. If they get the Bayit Yehudi and likeminded Likud members to bolt, Netanyahu would be just as unable to continue in office.
Obama’s slights against Israel’s prime minister are legend. The one in which Obama abandoned his White House guest Netanyahu and went “to have dinner,” has never been surpassed for breaches of protocol and common courtesy. The president who bowed before the Saudi potentate finds Israel’s democratically elected leader utter anathema.
Obama’s misadventure with an open microphone at the November 2011 G20 summit in Cannes provided us with direct unfiltered substantiation of his bias. It happened when he chitchatted chummily with French then-president Nicolas Sarkozy. “I can’t stand him. He’s a liar,” a chagrined Sarkozy blurted in reference to Netanyahu, the man both of them love to loath. (Sarkozy’s feathers were apparently ruffled because Bibi didn’t credit him with Gilad Schalit’s release).
Pointedly, Obama not only failed to defend Netanyahu but actually expressed unreserved agreement with his cantankerous interlocutor. “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you,” Obama bellyached.
We must obviously bear in mind that what we overhear by coincidence is surely only a negligible fragment of worse utterances to which we never become privy. Obama’s careless prattle in the vicinity of plugged-in sound equipment offers but an infinitesimal indication of what’s said out of our earshot.
Besides, the aforementioned hostility was exposed during Obama’s first term. Israelis have every reason to be ultra-leery of second- term Obama, well after he had waged his last campaign and has become invulnerable to voter backlash.
Obama is anything but an honest broker and he plainly doesn’t deserve the benefit of our doubt. If anything, his established predispositions should dispel our timidity – for the sake of our own self-preservation. To paraphrase Carole king’s classic:
We must not lose control
Down to our very soul
There is no danger that Israeli steadfastness would turn Obama all the more against us. He, Kerry and crew already are against us. We have nothing to lose by saying “no.”www.sarahhonig.com
Debunking the Bull, Sarah Honig’s book was recently published by Gefen.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>