Zack Bodner
Seeker | Writer | Storyteller | Community Builder | Doer

Mr. Kerry – thou dost protest too much!

America’s abstention on the anti-Israel resolution at the UNSC was shameful, and Secretary Kerry’s hypocritical tongue-lashing yesterday was an unprecedented foreign policy disaster. Here are six reasons why.

  1. First, you don’t talk to friends that way — much less partners! When you and your partner argue, you do it behind closed doors. (At least you should, because it makes the rest of us very uncomfortable when you fight in public.) Israel is America’s partner, and vice versa. So they need to disagree like partners, not like parent and child – or worse. Kerry’s haranguing of Israel publicly for an hour yesterday was a disgraceful way to treat a partner.
  1. It is not about settlements. Settlements are A problem, not THE problem. The Arab States rejected Israel before a single settlement was ever built. The Palestinians began terror attacks before Israel built in one square inch of the West Bank. To say, as Kerry did, that the Arab States will embrace Israel as soon as they stop the settlements and make peace with the Palestinians is a joke. The cause of the problem is Arab and Palestinian rejectionism of Israel’s basic right to exist. To make settlements the center of the conflict is an uneducated, naïve and ultimately dangerous way of looking at the conflict.
  1. The resolution itself — and Kerry’s subsequent defense of it – were both horribly biased. The reso says that “… the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.…” That means that Jews living in Jerusalem, in the eternal capital of the Jewish people – including the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and on the campus of Hebrew University (where I went to school) – are in violation of international law. To make no distinction between Jerusalem and a secluded trailer on a hill in the middle of the West Bank is sloppy and will actually hurt peace prospects.
  1. The UN should never be the place to mediate the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. That world body is inherently biased against Israel due to sheer numbers: 23 Arab States, 52 Islamic States and zero chance that Israel will ever receive a fair hearing. And since the US is the only country in the world willing to stand up to the tyranny of the majority at the UN, they must always do so. That does not mean the US should give Israel a blank check. But the US should recognize hypocrisy when they see it. And the UN is a den of the worst type of hypocrisy.
  1. Public criticism of Israel does not work. From the US, the UN or anyone else, it has the opposite effect than the world wants. First, it puts Israel’s back against the wall and makes them defensive, makes Israel feel like it can’t count on the US, so makes Israel less willing to take risks for peace. Second, it makes the Palestinians even more intransigent, showing them that they don’t have to take any steps because the US will do the heavy lifting for them. Finally, it emboldens Israel’s enemies, allowing them to think that the US won’t come to Israel’s defense, so they can behave even worse toward Israel.
  1. Yes, Israel does some stupid shit sometimes. There. I said it out loud. But show me a country that doesn’t! Show me one country in the world — including ours — that doesn’t do some stupid shit sometimes. Does that mean the UN should weigh-in on America’s issues with cops killing unarmed African Americans? Should the UNSC pass resolutions condemning the US for our insane gun laws? If the UN laid down judgment on our stupid shit, how long do you think it would take for Congress to stop paying the UN’s meal ticket?

So in conclusion, when you accept that Israel does 100 times LESS stupid shit than any other country in that part of the world AND when you recognize that Israel is the one island of democracy in a sea of tyranny fighting for its survival AND when you note that the UN condemns Israel more than any other country in the world, then maybe, just maybe, you will agree that the US should have Israel’s back in the international community, in front of the TV cameras and at the UN, especially when Egypt – a country where 97% of married women are forced to undergo genital mutilation — introduces a biased resolution like Resolution 2334.

It is a shame that this will be Obama’s legacy on Israel after 8 pretty good years of helping Israel defend itself. What a way to go out.

About the Author
Zack Bodner is the President and CEO of the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto, CA and the Founder of the Z3 Project, an effort to reimagine Diaspora-Israel relations. He is the author of "Why Do Jewish: A Manifesto for 21st Century Jewish Peoplehood," a #1 Amazon New Release in Religion and Philosophy. Learn more at Zack lives in Silicon Valley with his wife and three kids.
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