Today came news that (1) John Kerry made lengthy phone calls to Israeli and Palestinian leaders even before starting work at the State Department on Monday and (2) President Obama will visit Israel in March or April. No one should doubt that, as in Obama’s first term, brow-beating Israel into making concessions to the Palestinians will form the core of the Obama-Kerry outreach. As Groucho Marx said, in Horse Feathers, when explaining why he was offering a pep talk to the opposing team, “my team won’t listen to me.” The Palestinians don’t listen to Obama; Israel must, to some degree.
Kerry’s statement on the subject was particularly lame. He opined:
We need to try to find a way forward, and I happen to believe that there is a way forward. But I also believe that if we can’t be successful, the door, window, whatever you want to call it, to the possibility of a two-state solution could shut on everybody, and that would be disastrous.
So much hackery in so few words. First, Kerry fails to explain why he believes a door or window is open, given the other futility of the “peace process” during Obama’s first term. Second, he fails to explain why it would close if not entered right now. Third, he fails to explain why the negation of a two-state solution would be disastrous.
The former Senator is simply recycling cliches that have been around for decades. One can easily imagine a successor Secretary of State making exactly the same statement ten years from now. There is nothing unique about today that supplies the urgency Kerry posits — nothing, that is, except a U.S. president who is eager to stick it to Israel on behalf of the Palestinians.
Presumably, Israel understands that Kerry — who not long ago believed the “way forward” to a two-state solution consisted of enlisting Bashar al-Assad — is a fool. And presumably, Israel understands that President Obama — having, in his latest affront, nominated the anti-Israel Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense — is its adversary.
Certainly, Obama has made it clear that Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s popular Prime Minister, is his adversary. As the Times of Israel recounts:
Last month, days after Obama was quoted as castigating Netanyahu for ostensibly turning Israel into a pariah nation and threatening its long-term survival, Netanyahu hit back by declaring that if he were to capitulate to demands for a retreat to the pre-1967 lines, “we’d get Hamas 400 meters from my house.”
According to Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, Obama had lately begun repeating the mantra that Israel under Netanyahu “doesn’t know what its own best interests are.”
“With each new settlement announcement, in Obama’s view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation,” Goldberg wrote. “And if Israel, a small state in an inhospitable region, becomes more of a pariah — one that alienates even the affections of the U.S., its last steadfast friend — it won’t survive. Iran poses a short-term threat to Israel’s survival; Israel’s own behavior poses a long-term one.”
Goldberg added that, as regards Netanyahu’s handling of the Palestinians, “the president seems to view the prime minister as a political coward, an essentially unchallenged leader who nevertheless is unwilling to lead or spend political capital to advance the cause of compromise.”
If he really believes that Netanyahu is a hopeless coward and a fool, the logical move for Obama would be to stop beating his head against that wall. But the combination of leftist ideology and personal pride has drawn Obama back into the fray. So Netanyahu will once against have to weather the storm of a president who despises him and has little use for his State.