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Op-Ed: Quit Kerrying On

Kerry is not the right person for this moment in history. The Obama administration undoubtedly is the least capable U.S. government to have involved itself in this conflict since the creation of the Jewish State.
Published: Sunday, April 13, 2014 2:25 AM



As my grandfather said, “the fact that Arabs will now pronounce the word ‘Israel’ is an achievement.” Unfortunately there isn’t much more to show after 65 years.
Addressing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, Secretary of State John Kerry left little doubt that his finger of blame jabbed Israel right in the eye for collapsing his signature framework for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. As outrageous as this may be, it constitutes solid proof that Mr. Kerry lacks the knowledge and understanding to be the world’s point person in resolving the conflict.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas understands the political game and ineptitude of the current administration. He sabotaged the latest round of peace talks with an eleventh-hour increase in demands, making a mockery of Kerry’s efforts. As troubling as this development may be, Kerry’s inability to see it coming due to his ignorance of recent history serves as confirmation that he is the wrong person for the job.

Abbas’ demands contravene and thus nullify the Oslo Accords entered into by his predecessor, Yasser Arafat.  Yet Kerry, as well as the international press, is oblivious to the history, as if Arafat and Rabin had never met – shook hands – and offered hope to the region and the world on that beautiful day in Norway.

Nobody can say what is in John Kerry’s heart. Is he well intentioned and a true believer in his efforts to bring peace between Arabs and Israelis? Or are Kerry and the administration playing to the public, creating a highlight reel of success for future history books?

Regardless of their mindset, their latest efforts, indeed Obama’s entire presidency as regards the Middle East, amount to one lowlight after another. History will scratch its head trying to fathom how Kerry had the chutzpah to fault Israel for Jews building homes and refusing to release yet another batch of murderers and terrorists as the reason why “we find ourselves where we are.”

The same can be said for the president whose grandfatherly portrayal of Abbas as a man who has always stood for peace would be comical if it weren’t so dangerous.

I’d be happy to recant my last statement if someone can explain to me what is peaceful about a man whose condition for peace demands the release of hundreds of killers, some with the blood of children on their hands.

Munich massacre mastermind Abu Daoud identifies Abbas as the chief fundraiser for the terrorist operation that resulted in the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games.  This same Mahmoud Abbas claims he has always been about peace.  Incomprehensible.     

Two things are for certain: Kerry is not the right person for this moment in history. The Obama administration undoubtedly is the least capable U.S. government to have involved itself in this conflict since the creation of the Jewish State.

For America to seek peace under difficult circumstances is a noble enterprise.  You can’t succeed unless you try. John Kerry put his best foot forward and then stepped in it. His blame game antics are only making a horrible situation more horrific.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions," as the saying goes, describes Kerry’s Mideast peace efforts, but is even more applicable to the Obama administration’s foreign policy writ in that part of the world. The hope of the Arab Spring has become a harsh Middle East Winter.

Successive administrations have tried in vain to get Israel’s neighbors to accept her existence and in doing so coerced the Jewish State to make concession after dangerous concession. As my grandfather said, “the fact that Arabs will now pronounce the word ‘Israel’ is an achievement.” Unfortunately there isn’t much more to show after 65 years.

President Obama, Secretary Kerry and future world and U.S. leaders should start with the basics and launch all new peace efforts with the words of Golda Meir playing in an endless loop:

“Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”

Until that moment is realized, everything else is just a show – a bad performance – on a very dangerous stage.

Paul Miller is an op-ed contributor to the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity. He serves as principal of Pauliegroup LLC, a Chicago-based new media and political consulting firm.