Friday, February 7, 2014

What is John Kerry’s problem?

There is something going on between Israel and US Secretary of State John Kerry. Nobody’s been talking about it—except Kerry and the US State Department. They can’t keep quiet about it.

The proverbial cat jumped out of the proverbial bag last month when Israel Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon was quoted as calling Kerry obsessive and messianic about the peace process. This comment came from a conversation that was supposed to be private. It was released by a newspaper said to be hostile to Netanyahu.

The US State Department did not ignore Yaalon’s comments. They didn’t let the remarks pass.

They could have let them pass. After all, the US and Israel are supposed to be friends. They are supposed to be trusted allies. What’s wrong with the occasional sharp word between trusted friends? Married couples have such exchanges. Office workers have them. Professionals have them.

Stuff like this happens. Someone says something intemperate. Another gets insulted. Perhaps words are exchanged. Feelings are aired.

But then trusted friends let the issue drop. They move on in order to allow trust and friendship to heal.

But the US State Department—and John Kerry—did none of that. Their combined reactions do not suggest friendship or trust; and their continuing reactions certainly do not suggest they are willing to let trust and friendship heal.

Something is going on.

At first, the State Department reacted with anger. ALMonitor reported that the State Department felt that the nastiness of the comments was ‘unfitting of a trusted ally’ (“Kerry responds forcefully to Israeli insults”, January 17, 2014). 

Okay, feelings were hurt. We get it.

But after Kerry seemed to brush off any insult he might have felt, he brought it up again, and then yesterday again (“Kerry hits back at Israeli critics, says he won’t be cowed”, JTA, February 6, 2014).

Then, yesterday, the State Department brought it up again (“State Department: Attacks on Kerry Are Unacceptable”, Arutz Sheva, February 6, 2014).

Something is going on.

To understand what’s happening here, consider some questions:

-If Israel is a trusted US ally, why doesn’t Kerry let the issue drop so that trust can heal?

-If Israel is a trusted ally, why did US President Obama himself participate in a personal insult to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in November, 2011—and then refuse to apologize?

-If Israel is a trusted US ally, why did we read that the US spied on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (“U.S. bought nearby apartment to spy on Ehud Barak, Israel suspects”, Haaretz, December 22, 2013: this story contains information about US spying on Olmert as well as Barak)?

-If Israel is such a trusted US ally, why did the US also spy on the personal residence of then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak (“US spied on Barak’s home from apartment across the street”, Times of Israel, December 22, 2013)?

-If Israel is a trusted ally why did former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates declare (incorrectly) that Israel never gave the US a thing in return for US aid it receives?

-If Israel is a trusted ally, why didn’t President Obama contradict Gates’ comment as ‘not the position of the President or the Congress’?

-If the Israel is a trusted ally, why does a high-ranking Israeli official believe that the US is ‘holding a gun to Israel’s head’ in current Arab-Israel peace talks?

Something is going on here. Kerry (and his State Department) keep hammering Israel for this ‘insult’. They won’t drop it.

Are the wheels falling off this wagon?


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