By David Isaac
It seems John Kerry’s imitation of Henry Kissinger has borne fruit. His sixth trip to jump start ‘peace talks’ in as many months has triggered the desired response, with Arabs and Israelis agreeing to restart negotiations.
Unfortunately, getting Israel to the negotiating table is just a first step in squeezing Israel back to the 1949 Armistice Lines. Doubly unfortunate is that trying to reduce Israel to those lines is a long State Department tradition.
Which makes it all the more disturbing that Israel’s government cheers on Kerry’s endeavors. On July 14, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas Ramadan greetings, saying “I hope that American Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts have results.” Israel’s soon-to-be-replaced U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren, echoed this, saying Israel strongly supports Kerry’s efforts and, “‘If [Abbas] decides to stay in the negotiations, he will find an Israeli government that’s very committed to a solution.”
Shmuel Katz said presidents and secretaries of state come and go, “but the spirit of the makers of policy in the State Department has not changed. With increased subservience to Arab demands it has only become more intense, more urgent.” Kerry demonstrates he has zero intention of breaking from that mold. He wears Arabist designs like an old suit.
Notwithstanding American posturing as an “honest broker,” when it comes to Arab-Israeli negotiations it is two against one — America and the Arabs vs. Israel. Kissinger described diplomacy as the art of restraining power. In this case, it has always meant restraining Israel’s power.
As Shmuel wrote in “Missing Mandate” (The Jerusalem Post, July 19, 1985):
“The U.S. government has a view of its own, firmly held and untiringly pursued for years. It accepts implicitly the essential Arab premises and their demands. The origins of its policy are in the traditional hostility to Zionism in the State Department. …
“It ignores the history of the Arab aggression against the State of Israel since its birth, and has cooperated in Arab efforts to ensure that they should not be deprived of the fruits of their aggression. The Rogers Plan of 1969, the Reagan Plan of 1982, and all the intervening plans and planlets often accompanied by words of sympathy for Israel and concern for her security, are all expressive of these dominant themes.”
Netanyahu is not the first to act this way. His behavior duplicates that of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin. As Shmuel writes of Begin in “Return to Square One” (The Jerusalem Post, April 16, 1982):
He shut his mind to the knowledge — which he himself had so often disseminated —that surrender of territory, far from advancing peace, and weakening, as it must, the power of Israeli resistance, would only strengthen Arab belief and confidence that Israel could be overrun.
And so Israel eggs the U.S. on as John Kerry, its latest personification of U.S. policy, starts still another attempt at forcing an Israeli retreat. It is an amazing scene, like watching a home team crowd rooting for the opposing side. What Shmuel wrote in 1978 (“The Vance Team Prepares the Landmines”) could have been written today:
“Are the members of the Israeli Government the only players in the drama now unfolding who are unaware of these realities? Are they really blind to the central purpose of the Americans? Have they not learned enough from the methods of the Americans in order to realize that when their representatives appear as mediators, they direct all their advice and all their coaxing towards the central purpose of their own, which is lethal for Israel but which they regard as their national interest — and that is why they devote so much time and energy in its pursuit?”