John Kerry’s empty promises

Just days after his monomaniacal boss blindsided Israel with a scathing one-sided attack against the Jewish state, John Kerry assured a very skeptical AIPAC audience that he would not allow the West Bank to turn into another Gaza. Unfortunately, there is ample precedent to suggest that when it comes to Israel (or for that matter, Ukraine) international or U.S. assurances don’t amount to a hill of beans.

In 1951, Egypt closed the Gulf of Eilat to Israeli shipping by positioning cannon at Ras Nasrani overlooking the Straits of Tiran. In 1956, Israel moved to break the blockade and in a lightening military operation, ejected the Egyptian army from its threatening positions in Sinai. The United States exerted extreme pressure on Israel to withdraw from Sinai and in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal, guaranteed Israel’s maritime rights in the Gulf of Eilat.

In May 1967 barely eleven years later, Egypt once again imposed a blockade preventing ships bound for Israel to enter the Gulf of Eilat. Despite, “iron clad” guarantees, the Western world stood frozen with fear, unable to act to enforce its guarantees and uphold international law.

Modern history is replete with a long litany of U.N. and Western failures in upholding international peacekeeping guarantees and commitments. From the Golan Heights to Gaza, South Lebanon to Sinai, U.N. operational deployments have amounted to nothing more than a study in abject failure.

More recently, Ukraine, a country now ravaged by Russian imperialist aggression, has experienced firsthand the meaning of U.S. and NATO guarantees. In July 1997, NATO signed an agreement with Ukraine providing that nation with security guarantees in exchange for Ukraine’s relinquishment of its nuclear arsenal. The agreement was reaffirmed in August 2009. But as Russia now moves to secure Crimea and violates Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty, a tepid NATO led by an equally tepid American president, ponders its next move, unsure on how to respond to naked aggression.

But while Ukraine borders a hostile neighbor to its east, its western, northern and southern flanks are secure. By contrast, Israel has no such luxury as it faces existential threats along all of its borders. In the north, it faces the Iranian backed Shia terrorist group Hezbollah and a fragmented, lawless Syria. In the south, it confronts the Gaza-based genocidal Sunni group Hamas as well as global jihadists operating in Sinai. And Iran, inching ever closer toward nuclear breakout capacity, poses an increasing threat from the east. To the west is the Mediterranean Sea, which is where the Palestinians wish to see the Jews migrate.

While Kerry’s promises strike the right rhetorical note, the sad and unfortunate fact is that in the age of Obama, American guarantees, assurances and red lines are mere empty slogans, worth about as much as the paper they’re written on. In the final analysis, Israel can rely only on itself.

About the Author
Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor. He has authored several articles covering political and military issues concerning Israel, the United States and the Mideast at large.
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