The following is the text of Rabbi Mark S. Golub’s opening editorial on Wednesday’s edition of JBS’s “In The News,” critiquing the address of Secretary of State Kerry of December 28, 2016.
A SAD DEFENSE OF A DIPLOMATIC BETRAYAL
The U.S. decision to refrain from exercising its veto in the Security Council on a Resolution slamming Israel has created a firestorm throughout the Jewish world. The feeling among the vast majority of Jews concerned about the future well-being of the State of Israel is that the Obama Administration’s action was wholly inappropriate and a betrayal of the U.S.-Israeli relationship.
Even among those who have been extremely critical of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s handling of the peace process, and who are opposed to Israeli settlements (especially any new construction beyond the settlement blocks which are most likely to become part of Israel in any Two-State Solution), there has been a chorus of criticism. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Reform Movement’s URJ, typifies this Jewish response.
Obviously, these feelings within the Jewish community have been heard within the Administration.
And so on Wednesday, December 28th, Secretary of State John Kerry went before the American people in a nationally televised speech to explain why the Administration chose to abstain on the Security Council vote and to permit Resolution 2334 to be passed.
I watched every moment of the speech.
From my perspective, I came away feeling that John Kerry means well.
I do not believe he is out to hurt Israel. I do not believe he is anti-Israel. He spoke movingly about his personal experiences in and with Israel over a lifetime.
I certainly do not believe he is anti-Semitic.
John Kerry is neither anti-Israel nor anti-Semitic.
And I also feel he made a very strong case for the Administration’s position – which is: that the only way there will ever be peace between Israel and the Palestinians – and between Israel and the Arab World – will be through a Two-State Solution.
And that Israeli settlement expansion deep into the West Bank, supported by the Right Wing in the Israeli government, sends a message to the Palestinians that Israel is not serious about ever implementing a Two-State Solution – and is making it more and more difficult for there ever to be a Palestinian State on contiguous territory on the West Bank.
And because the Netanyahu government has been unwilling to stop settlement construction – especially beyond the main settlement blocks in, what is called, Area “C” – where the majority of settler currently reside – and which is designated to become part of Israel in any two-state solution; because the Netanyahu government has been unwilling to cease settlement construction and is planning on adding new Israeli housing in East Jerusalem – which Sec. Kerry made very clear the United States considers to be the “occupied West Bank;” for these reasons, Kerry explained in careful detail President Obama decided to withhold a U.S. veto and to permit the Resolution to pass – branding all settlements – including those in Area C – to be illegal and “a flagrant violation of international law.”
Here is the actual text of Article 1 of Security Council Resolution 2334 (my bold):
1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;
This was the thrust of Secretary’s Kerry argument – and it was very “seductive!”
If one doesn’t know the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;
if one is ignorant of the 80 years of history that has characterized the Arab Palestinian rejectionism of the intrinsic right of the Jewish People to live in a Jewish State anywhere in Palestine;
if one doesn’t understand this transcending tragic truth, one could easily be swayed by the idealism and “fairness” of John Kerry’s defense of the Obama Administration.
John Kerry said the resolution is “even-handed” because it also calls for a cessation of incitement and violence – on both sides.
On both sides?
How outrageous is it to suggest a moral equivalency between the Palestinians and Israel when it comes to incitement, terrorism and murder?
And while Israel is criticized by name throughout the resolution, the word “Palestinian” does not appear one time – not even one – in the entire Resolution – except for a reference to occupied “Palestinian territory.”
Is that a fair and balanced document – meriting U.S. support?
The “Palestinians” are not referred to ever in the entire Resolution!
And the Secretary makes it sound as if “incitement and violence and terrorism” are wrong but he does not make these actions sound horrific and an anathema.
Which is worse, I would ask Sec. Kerry?
A community of Jews living near the Jordan River – or Palestinians slitting the throat of a baby while she sleeps in her bed? Or hacking rabbis to death while praying in a synagogue; Or driving cars and trucks into civilians waiting at a bus stop?
Which truly warrants condemnation in the Security Council?
Which should be defined as “illegal” and a “flagrant violation of international law?”
Are settlements problematic to the peace process?
They very well may be.
But they do not rise to the level of Palestinians teaching their children that Jews are the descendants of pigs and apes – of Palestinian Authority Television teaching children to sing songs of murdering Jews; of teaching children to chant – “From The River To the Sea, all of Palestine will be free.”
John Kerry’s speech was seductive because it made it sound as if two parties were equally unable to work out a peaceful compromise – because one was involved in violent protest, while the other was truly undermining any possibility of a peace compromise by building communities on the West Bank.
That was why John Kerry’s speech was insidious, even if he meant well (and I believe he did).
Which is why it is imperative now for Americans to speak out in defense of the State of Israel. Not simply American Jews – but all Americans who see the truth of the Middle East for what it is – namely, the tragic situation where Palestinians will not agree to share the land with the Jews no matter how many times the Jews offer to share the land (and present plans that would give the Palestinians more than 90% of the West Bank for a state of their own).
These offers Sec. Kerry never mentioned.
There is a fundamental ideology that fuels the Arab/Islamic world view: hatred for the “infidel” – especially the infidel Jew – and a visceral inability to ever “share” the land.
This is why the Palestinians are unable to call Israel the “Jewish” State.
Even when there’s a hint that Palestinian leadership might be willing to work out a Two-State Solution, it is never “two-states for two peoples.”
While the Jews have said they would help the Palestinians to create their state – and to help up build it as well, the Palestinians have been unwilling to even acknowledge the right of the Jewish People to a State of their own.
If the Middle East conflict was as John Kerry saw it, he would be right.
But John Kerry does not see the reality that has stared the American Administrations in the face for nearly 70 years – from the moment the State of Israel was declared a state by David Ben Gurion, and even before that: The Arab Palestinian does not want to share any of the land of Palestine with the Jews.
All the rest is commentary.
And that is the human tragedy of the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
However problematic settlements may be, they are not the reason there is no Israeli-Palestinian peace and the implementation of a Two-State Solution.
Were Israel to pull every settler off the West Bank tomorrow, does anyone believe the Palestinians would cease all incitement, and violence, and terrorism, and murder and rockets and tunnels – and make peace with Israel?
This is why the words of John Kerry – however lofty and idealistic they may sound – ring hollow. And very, very sad.
It is so sad that the Obama Administration should leave office slamming Israel – the only Democracy — liberal Democracy — in the entire Middle East; America’s closest ally – sharing with America all of its values and dreams – and trying desperately to work out a life of peace for Israelis – and for Arabs and Palestinians.
John Kerry’s words may have been beautiful.
But more than beautiful, I found them very, very sad.