Alan Edelstein

John Kerry–a prize from Alfred–but which one?

I’ve been thinking of nominating Secretary of State John Kerry for a Nobel Peace Prize.  I would include President Obama except he already got one for . . . . .

Why do I think the Secretary of State might be deserving of the Prize?  Well, when was the last time we’ve seen Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President al-Sissi, Jordan’s King Hussein, the Saudi’s, and the United Arab Emirates all united and in agreement?

No, I can’t remember that time either.  But, Kerry has done it.  How?  By pulling one of the stupidest stunts in the history of American foreign policy.

All those parties, allies of the U.S., feel betrayed by the U.S. and are incredibly angry at what they see as an American lifeline being tossed to a terrorist organization whose ideology and actions represent a serious threat to the region.

Hamas was on the ropes.  Gazans had had it with them for dragging them into this war.  The Egyptians, who rightly see Hamas as a terrorist extension of the Muslim Brotherhood and who have put a tighter blockade on them than Israel, had proposed a ceasefire deal that Israel had embraced and that would have ensured an end to the rocket fire and the tunnels. Abbas, who the Obama Administration purportedly wants to promote as the leader of the recently reunited Palestinian Authority, had embraced the proposal.

Hamas rejected the proposal because it would have made them look like losers and would have crippled their ability to terrorize Israel.

One would think that the U.S., having designated Hamas a terrorist organization like al-Queda and other evil organizations, would have liked the notion of Hamas appearing to be losers and, in fact, being seriously set back in their objectives.

So, what does the Secretary of State do?  Well, first, his undersecretary, in a soon amended tweet, puts out a message that ends with “#United with Gaza.”  How did that happen?  No one seems to know.

Then, the Secretary of State himself is heard saying into a microphone that was supposed to be off (whoops, how does that always happen?) ridiculing the notion that Israel is trying to do “pinpoint strikes,” apparently astonished that wars initiated by Hamas from within heavily populated areas might lead to the death and injury of Gazans when Israelis defend themselves.

Then, the Secretary jets off reportedly uninvited to mediate a ceasefire.  He stops in Egypt where the Egyptians, apparently peeved at him for past slights, find a clerk that purportedly does not know who he is and, therefore, puts him through a security clearance.

He pops in on Israel where he meets a “no” to one of his ceasefire proposals. He then announces that there is no ceasefire because the parties have to “come to their senses,” thus putting on equal plane Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself from rockets and tunnel attacks aimed at its civilians with Hamas’ efforts to injure and kill those civilians.

After spending a few unproductive days here in the region, where all the relevant parties but Hamas have agreed to the Egyptian proposal, Kerry flies off to Paris.

Who does he meet with there? Representatives of Qatar, a country which has no relations with Israel and which has been a primary funder of Hamas’ tunnels and rockets; representatives of Turkey, whose leader has reached new heights, or lows, in his spewing of Jew hatred; and various European leaders.

Who does Kerry forget to include in his Paris meetings?  President Abbas, whose aides were fuming over the involvement of Qatar and the elevation of Hamas to a negotiating partner; the Israelis who, from the left and the right, believe the United States has betrayed it and who think that his actions have rescued and emboldened Hamas at a time that it was clearly weakened; King Hussein, whose country has a peace treaty with Israel and who sees Hamas and other Islamic extremist groups as a threat to his survival; and Egypt, whose new President would naturally align with the West but who has flirted with Russia because of his anger with the U.S. over prior actions.

Abbas, King Hussein, al-Sissi, and Israel all clearly said that the Egyptian proposal was the only game in town.  They recognized that Hamas was down and they wanted it out.  The last thing these players wanted was elevating Hamas’s standing and providing it a lifeline and enhancing the influence of Turkey and Qatar in the region.

What does Kerry come up with after his meetings in Paris with Turkey and Qatar and their European pals?   Surprise, a proposed ceasefire agreement that looks strikingly like that of Hamas: open borders (so that smuggling of materials for missiles and tunnels can proceed unimpeded) , release of prisoners, a port, and on and on.

And what about Israel’s security needs?  Oh, that’s for further discussion.

It does not help Israel, advance long-term U.S. interests, help the Palestinians, or create the prospects for a sustainable peace to have the U.S. Secretary of  Kerry running around the region and Europe undercutting Abbas and Israel and leading Hamas to think the U.S. does not totally back Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority.

What it does do is provide Hamas an incentive to hold on and to continue firing missiles at Israel and protecting its tunnels whose only purpose is to kill Israeli civilians.

Having dictators like Hussein, al-Sissi, and Abbas (in the 10th year of his four year term) as your allies is not a democracy’s dream.  However, in the Middle East it beats the alternatives, which is terrorists and states that support terrorists. That Arab Spring thing that Tom Friedman and President Obama were so in love with hasn’t worked out all that well.

It takes a very special talent to unite Abbas, Bibi, King Hussein, al Sissi, the Saudis, and the UAE’s all in anger at the U.S. What is hard to determine is whether this is sheer stupidity and incompetence or whether it is a thought-out, ill-intentioned policy toward allies, or a combination thereof.

Ari Shavit, a left-wing columnist for the left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz, whose book, My Promised Land, received almost obsessive attention by the some in the American Jewish community, thinks Kerry is very stupid and reckless. 

In a recent column, Shavit opined that, if Israel is now forced to undertake an expanded ground operation, it would be appropriate to name the offensive after the person who caused it: John Kerry.

Says Shavit:

“But over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ruined everything. Very senior officials in Jerusalem described the proposal that Kerry put on the table as a ‘strategic terrorist attack.’ His decision to go hand in hand with Qatar and Turkey, and formulate a framework amazingly similar to the Hamas framework, was catastrophic. It put wind in the sails of Hamas’ political leader Khaled Meshal, allowed the Hamas extremists to overcome the Hamas moderates, and gave renewed life to the weakened regional alliance of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Obama administration proved once again that it is the best friend of its enemies, and the biggest enemy of its friends. The man of peace from Massachusetts intercepted with his own hands the reasonable cease-fire that was within reach, and pushed both the Palestinians and Israelis toward an escalation that most of them did not want.”

Shavit makes a credible argument that Kerry is responsible for the continuation of the conflict, for its possible escalation, and for helping to keep Hamas alive and somewhat well.  That would seem to argue against a Nobel Peace Prize.

Still, one cannot deny the sheer brilliance of uniting Israel, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan in anger and in a feeling that, once again, the United States has proven to be an unreliable ally.  That is surely worthy of some recognition.

If something from Alfred B. Nobel is not appropriate, perhaps something from another well-known Alfred, as in Alfred E, as in Alfred E. Newman, is. Clearly, the Secretary’s antics are as crazy as anything ever published in Mad. Sadly, they are much more dangerous.


Approximately 1,000 Palestinians have been killed in the current war.  Most estimates are that one-third to one-half of those killed are combatants.  It could be even higher, given the fact that the dead appear to be overwhelmingly men between the ages of 18 and 36. No matter what the number, any civilian deaths are regrettable and unfortunate. Still, given the virtual non-stop attention to the deaths in Gaza, it is worth nothing that those deaths represent one half of one percent of the approximately 170,000 deaths in Syria. Hear much about Syria on the news lately?


Speaking of things the media pays little attention to, we are now seeing the death, forced conversion, and exile of the Christian community in the new Islamic government of Iraq. This is what happens when you don’t stand up to evil, when you are “tired of being the world’s policeman.” Evil doesn’t go away. It grows and expands.

Where is the Presbyterian Church USA and the other “mainstream” churches that devote so much time and resources to condemning Israel? Where is the UN, whose despot-heavy “Human Rights Council” condemns Israel at every turn? Where is the U.S. and the Europeans, who think that if only we reason with people and make strong statements, this hate will disappear? This will be a stain on the free world that will last decades, if not centuries.

About the Author
Alan Edelstein made Aliyah in 2011 and lives in Jerusalem. He was the founding partner of a well-respected California government affairs firm and was involved in California government and politics as a lobbyist and consultant for 30 years. He blogs at He can be reached at