A few months ago, when Secretary of State John Kerry amped up his efforts to get an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, senior members of the Israeli resorted to attacking him personally, while throwing any insulting wrench they can find into the process itself.
"Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) is alive and well thanks to us," [Israeli Security Minister] Ya'alon said. "The moment we leave Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) he is finished. In reality, there have been no negotiations between us and the Palestinians for all these months – but rather between us and the Americans. The only thing that can 'save us' is for John Kerry to win a Nobel Prize and leave us in peace."The response was swift, and Ya'alon retracted:
In a statement issued just before midnight, Ya'alon apologized for "insulting" the secretary of state in calling him "obsessive and messianic."Ok, everyone thought. People still do remember sometimes - even given Israel's ability to get 100 U.S. Senators (give or take a few) to sign any idiotic one-sided statement it wants - which of the two nations is the superpower sponsor, and which one is its rather tiny and dependent client state.
"The defense minister did not intend to insult the secretary and he apologizes if the secretary was hurt by the remarks attributed to the defense minister," read a statement issued by Ya'alon's bureau.
The apology was issued after two-hour meeting between Ya'alon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the premier's residence in Jerusalem. The statement, which was composed together with Netanyahu, followed a lukewarm response from Ya'alon earlier in the day which was rejected by the Obama Administration.
Cue in terrible 2014.
Then this war on Gaza started, and Obama's Administration - previously rather careful to make more realistic and somewhat nuanced statements compared with its reckless and disastrous predecessor - suddenly did start sounding W. Bush's misgovernment all over again.
Unlike in 2012 (the success in stopping the fire after 7 days then, shines now even stronger, although I now accept that ousted Egyptian President Morsi may have played a more decisive role in it) - unlike 2012, this time around Obama has decided to give Israel a carte blanche. The popular (though non-scientific) definition of insanity, relevant in so many ways in I-P, applies here too - because when Israel's military is given carte blanche, especially in recent decades, the results are never good.
The world has been seeing the results of Obama's neglect to restrain America's client state (link goes to Humanize Palestine, an amazing website with In Memoriams to the dead with pictures and texts provided by their families).
So at long last, after nearly 2 weeks of bloodshed, Kerry was sent to the Middle East to get a ceasefire. On Friday evening, moments before his press conference, Israeli ministers leaked that Israel has rejected his proposal. Completely blindsighted by this leak, Kerry vehemently denied having made a formal proposal, and said Israel's Prime Minister will soon issue a correction to that link.
In what might be the worst public humiliation a US Secretary of State has suffered from a minor ally, the correction never came.
Instead, today Israel adds insult to injury. According to Haaretz, Prime Minister Bibi said today on CNN that he rejects Kerry's proposal, and the "Egyptian proposal" - widely known now as prearranged Israeli sham fronted by Sisi - is the only game in town. Meanwhile, we are treated to yet another leak from the Israeli government, of the rejected Kerry document (there might be a firewall or "annoy-wall" to this link). The leak comes together with a rather insulting framing:
The cease-fire draft U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presented to Israel on Friday evening contained practically no mention of Israel's security needs...Besides showing how even the last bastion of Israel's "free press" (the Ha'aretz newspaper, where the link and excerpt are from) has become a convenient government mouthpiece, this leak and the renewed personal campaign against Kerry should represent a clear red line to the Obama Administration.
I'm not even willing to go into the details of Bibi's "security" based critique of Kerry. I don't have the time - but believe me, every single argument Bibi and his hacks make can be kicked apart and exposed as hollow and mendacious.
Consider this instead.
1. Obama's Administration has paid for the accelerated development and nationwide deployment of Israel's Iron Dome system, a system which the Israeli regime has been using to batter Palestinian civilians with minimal risk to its own civilians. The 3 Israeli civilians killed so far were a Thai farm laborer working less than a mile from the border, a Bedouin citizen (the Dome does not cover Bedouin villages very well, if at all), and a gung-ho civilian volunteer who came to the border to deliver extra food to soldiers.
2. Obama's Administration has just sacrificed whatever remaining credit it had with the Arab world and with much of the rest of the world, by giving Israel a Bush-style freedom of action and parroting Israel's talking points even as the horrors became evident for all to see.
To all this extraordinary level of undeserved support, Israel's government responds with a level of Chutzpah (in the bad sense of the word) that is simply begging for a response.
The only question remaining is: is there a President in the house right now?
Will Obama at long last put Israel in its place, redeem some of the dignity of his Secretary of State - working on his orders - and most importantly, put an end to this needless slaughter and to the unacceptable, wholesale jailing of Gaza that has spawned it and will spawn future ones if not ended once and for all?
Please contact the White House today. Thank you.
--- 9:30 AM UPDATE: ---------
I wanted to clarify why I wrote this diary in the morning of leaving town. I wrote it not to vent or toss arguments about. Rather, my intent was to use blogging in the capacity of activism - that is, to influence opinions and inspire actions among an important segment of the President's supporters (and yes, I still count myself as a supporter of Obama in the big scheme of things).
Many of the comments go along the lines of "You are right, but it's par for the Obama course", or "Kerry is a Fall Guy by design", etc.
Yes, we all painfully know Obama's tendency to settle for a quarter-loaf, or treat opponents who deploy scorched-earth tactics and hateful rhetoric with undue indulgence. But still a red line is being crossed here, both policy-wise and politics-wise.
Policy-wise, the US has left zero daylight between itself and Israel in the worst possible moment. Besides the impact to US standing, it is preposterous to think that Israel can get anyone (except puppets like Sisi) to agree to a deal better for itself than one offered by the US Sec. State after long discussions with all involved. If Obama lets Israel's rejection slide, there is literally no end in sight.
For me this is by far the more important issue - so much bloodshed! And yes, things can still get even worse and even more out of hand! As some Israeli blogger noted, just like Gaza now the Balkans also had their repeated bouts of war 100 years ago. There was the 1912 Balkan War, then the 1913 Balkan War. The 1914 Balkan War is called the First World War.
But politics matter too, and they too dictate a very sharp response from Obama now. In this war Bibi has been more obvious than ever in his intent to dictate American policy. This direct assault on Kerry is just the latest salvo. If Obama wants to have any sort of credibility left with Israel-Palestine, and possibly the surrounding region as well, it should also be the last straw.