Another Tack: The 14th century in Washington

Kerry treacherously crossed a redline in a calculated move that should send chills down the spine of every thinking person.

A MEDIEVAL MANUSCRIPT shows Jews burned at the stake in Flanders according to the popular antidote to the Black Death. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
A MEDIEVAL MANUSCRIPT shows Jews burned at the stake in Flanders according to the popular antidote to the Black Death.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
In all fairness, it’s not just the Obama administration which is fond of insinuating that somehow Israel is to blame for all that ails the Mideast.
This has been the underlying theme of the US State Department since Israel’s birth in 1948.
The variations in the stance vis-à-vis Israel derive from the intensity of antipathy – the subtlety and sophistication of the tone in which it’s expressed. Given its strident hectoring, the Obama administration is doubtless America’s least-subtle and least-sophisticated ever.
While past presidents and their secretaries of state took greater pains to pretend not to side with glaring Arab anti-Israel falsehoods, such niceties are all but absent from Barack Obama’s and John Kerry’s rhetoric.
Anti-Israel idioms and calumnies are repeated by them as an obvious and infallible politically-correct gospel.
And thus Kerry had the colossal gall last week – significantly at a White House ceremony for the Muslim fest of Id al-Adha – to claim no less that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (i.e. the Jewish state’s struggle for survival) bolsters the mass appeal of Islamic State radicalism.
Hardly knocking Israelis for a loop, the State Department’s spokeswoman later accused us of getting it all wrong. In deadpan delivery she insisted that Kerry “did not make a linkage between Israel and the growth of ISIL [Islamic State]. Period.”
But her boss’s words speak for themselves and belie her assertion.
Here, verbatim, is Kerry’s syntax-defying wisdom: “As I went around and met with people in the course of our discussions about the ISIL coalition, the truth is we – there wasn’t a leader I met with in the region who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation.”
Translation: “Peace between Israel and the Palestinians” means Israeli concessions of the sort that will critically compromise Israel’s prospects for self-preservation. That and that alone will satisfy the “leaders” with whom the insightful Kerry met “in the region.” These were all Arab and/or Muslim and obviously they “spontaneously” gave voice to their enmity toward Israel – enmity which supersedes any discomfort arising from the hideous internecine Arab feuds.
These non-too-objective leaders are prone to blaming any and all misfortunes on Israel (including the polio epidemic back in the day, followed by cancer, later by AIDS, and most recently we’re told that Israel deliberately spreads Ebola). Is it then really any wonder that they would blame Israel for the Islamic fanaticism that overruns Iraq and Syria and threatens other domains? Should Kerry have been surprised that these nameless, seemingly objective “leaders” all agreed in rare Mideastern unanimity that it is Israel which constitutes “a cause of recruitment [for extreme Islam] and of street anger and agitation” that presumably permeate the region? Kerry should have anticipated what he’d hear. Hatred of the Jewish state in varying degrees of ferocity and of flaunted belligerence has consistently been the only glue to hold together the squabbling and mutually destructive sons of Arabia in their various guises and incompatible religious adherences.
Therefore, Kerry – had he had even a superficial smattering of elementary historical comprehension – should have expected precisely such slander. Moreover, had Kerry even a superficial smattering of elementary intellectual integrity, he’d have rejected the crude attempt to reproach Israel for Arab/Muslim barbarities. He could have denounced it as the crass opportunism and as the morally abhorrent cop-out that it is.
Had Kerry any rudimentary decency in the role of go-between he so fancies, he’d have told his regional interlocutors that they cannot persist in portraying Israel as the source of all evil. Had he possessed a smidgen of the statecraft he boasts about, he’d have fearlessly stood up to the host of Mideastern dictators and potentates.
Instead he lent them his sympathetic ear.
He should have unambiguously challenged their predilection to pin culpability on Israel. He should have taken Arab leaders to task and pointed out that defamation contradicts any professed aspirations for peace. Relentless vilification negates the very notion of acceptance and coexistence.
But Kerry clearly lacks rudimentary decency and the statesman’s knack. Otherwise, he’d have blocked glib Arab misrepresentations and said boldly that the slaughter in the misnamed Fertile Crescent and the misnamed “Arab Spring” (that he himself avidly cheered on) have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Israel, with any conflict forced on Israel and stoked by oil-glutted Arabia’s moneybags.
Kerry might have noted that conflicts can be solved only in circumstances where the sides have specified concrete grievances for which live-and-let-live redress is feasible.
When the claimed grievances become preposterously wide-ranging and all-encompassing, they comprise pretexts for an endless fight rather than issues that can be addressed in good faith. Nothing Israel might ever do could possibly placate international Islam’s indistinct gripes and blood-curdling excesses.
Moreover, the Islamic State butchers, rapists and slave traders may be headline grabbers and ratings boosters, but they aren’t the only ones whom no doable deal would ever satiate. Even a cursory look at the Hamas Charter (which blames Jews for the French and Russian revolutions, for the First and Second World Wars, for indeterminate “international espionage” and the ogre Free Masons, among plenty more), reveals it to be another Islamic outfit with universal designs and sweeping complaints which can never be rationally resolved.
To treat Hamas as a valid part of a Palestinian unity setup is akin to recognizing Islamic State’s conquests in Iraq and Syria as legitimate jurisdictions governed by potential negotiating partners.
To be sure, the limitless and ever-expanding complex of unmeetable demands isn’t only religious overkill. It’s not exclusively the predisposition of Islamic State, al-Qaida, Boko Haram, Hezbollah, Hamas and numerous kindred warriors in Allah’s name.
Supposedly secular Arab organizations and regimes bellow the same unwarranted protestations over perceived injustices to which there can never be viable recourse.
Their bellicosity is self-fueling.
For the world’s chattering classes, the masked beheaders of Islamic State are the latest, most trendy dread, but the hype they generate erases from popular memory Arab tyrants who strut about in uniforms or business suits and who, to undiscerning eyes, appear secular in the Western sense.
A quarter of a century back, the featured bogeyman was Iraq’s Ba’ath honcho Saddam Hussein. He wasn’t the only “secular nationalist” about. There was an abundance of his ilk throughout the Mideast before him, during his reign of terror and after his ignominious downfall – not least, the Assad clan of Syria’s Ba’ath.
Palestinian self-styled secularists included Muslim Brotherhood confederate Yasser Arafat, a follower of infamous Nazi mufti Haj Amin el-Husseini (to whom Arafat claimed family ties). Arafat’s successor and self-promoted moderate is Holocaust-denier and terror-glorifier Mahmoud Abbas.
He’s the one who time and again declares straight-faced that Jewish presence in itself defiles Jerusalem’s sanctity and that Jews possess no trace of historical bond to this land.
The ultimate genocidal ambitions of Abbas and his cohorts are no different from those of Hamas, despite divergent tactics, nuances, style and public relations.
As far as the long-term danger they pose for Israel, they are indistinguishable.
Abbas is the shaven, bespectacled face the Palestinians present to the willingly gullible world. Abroad, Abbas is treated as an esteemed model democrat. Who remembers (or cares) that he will soon enter the 11th year of the four-year term to which he was dubiously elected in January 2005? This slippery “president,” who pathetically depends on Israel to keep him alive in office, is the one who most ardently and effectively disseminates the all-inclusive Israeli culpability calumny. That in itself – especially the war crimes accusations this Holocaust-denier recurrently hurls at Israel with relish – should have long ago disqualified him as a peace partner.
Nonetheless, this is the very double-dealer with whom Kerry obstinately prods us to deal. It’s as if the recent round of Kerry-imposed talks hadn’t violently collapsed just a few months ago in an ugly, putrid heap.
Kerry pressures Israel to go through the identical non-peace process all over again, in what can be only be characterized as cyclical stupidity. But this isn’t mere impudence- cum-imbecility. There’s malice aforethought here.
Unfortunately, it can be stated without a hint of reservation that Kerry’s amazing amnesia wouldn’t manifest itself so maddeningly in the case of any other nation.
No nation on this planet is as existentially threatened as Israel, yet even nations far less imperiled are unlikely to be treated with the callousness Kerry shows Israel.
No nation that has just been through futile talks (which the other side broke off provocatively) and then through a summer- long war (in which the “peace partner” fanned the flames with abandon) would be so discordantly pushed back to the same negotiating table with the same inimical “peace partner.”
Liberties which can be taken with Jews aren’t remotely countenanced in regard to any other nation. We Israelis are used to disrespect. We know that no other nation is treated as shabbily as we are, that no other would be expected to put its survival on the line, that no other is as maligned as our ultra-liberal, soft-hearted society.
But Kerry took all that a step much too far when he insinuated a connection between Israel and the rise of latter-day Islamic savagery.
The inference is that we bear guilt for the sins of others by not being pliable enough.
Kerry didn’t only fail to rebuff this dangerous allegation when it was sounded by the “regional leaders” with whom he so cozily hobnobbed. Kerry actually quoted Arab aspersions, giving them resonance and official endorsement.
And he didn’t just echo Israel’s enemies but added his own editorializing commentary to reinforce their Israel-connection contentions: “People need to understand the connection of that. And it has something to do with humiliation and denial and absence of dignity.”
Here Kerry treacherously crossed a redline, in a calculated move that should send chills down the spine of every thinking person.
Kerry intimated that by refusing to commit collective suicide, Israelis abet the nastiest menace to the civilized world. The subtext ought to be clear even to this non-erudite secretary of state.
In essence, blaming the blameless for what they have no involvement in is as morally reprehensible as the mid-14th century scapegoating of Europe’s Jews during the Black Death. Right across the Continent, the recommended remedy was to accuse Jews of poisoning the wells.
With adaptations, this remains the undisputed conventional wisdom. As Hamas avers and as Kerry chummily chimes in, when anything goes wrong the instant surefire remedy is to blame the Jew. The 14th century lives on in 21st century Washington.
Debunking the Bull, Sarah Honig’s book, was recently published by Gefen.