The “Poof” moment

I did not have high hopes that much, if anything, would come out of the latest quasi-negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Anyone with an ounce of knowledge of the conflict would know not to have much hope that this dispute is going to be resolved anytime soon.  Still, those of us who truly desire a solution and who are willing to compromise, we still hope.  As the saying goes, you gotta have hope.  Even if it’s audacious. 

I have previously lamented, some would say bitterly ranted, about how President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, wittingly or unwittingly, do and say just about everything possible to encourage the Palestinians to believe they need not make concessions and to ensure that negotiations will fail, that Israel is blamed for the failure of negotiations, and that Israel is undermined in the court of world opinion. 

(See, for example, What In The World, Birthday Wishes and a New Jersey Gangster’s Threats, and It’s The Bomb!)  

In the wake of the apparent demise of the talks, the Secretary continues his virtually 100 percent record in this regard.  Although the State Department subsequently, post-headlines, backed off slightly, the Secretary initially laid the blame for the current failure on Israel’s doorstep. 

The Secretary said that Israel’s refusal to release the fourth batch of terrorist prisoners and its announcement of “700 settlement units in Jerusalem” was “poof,” the end of negotiations.  But why were those actions the cause of the breakdown?  Why did they constitute the “poof” moment?

Because the Palestinians decided they were reason enough, or an excuse, to walk away from negotiations. 

Why was Abbas making it clear that he intended to negotiate until the fourth batch of prisoners was released and then to quit and to go to the UN and other international bodies not the “poof” moment that caused the breakdown?

Why was Abbas and his associates repeatedly, clearly, and unequivocally stating that they would never recognize the right of the Jews to a nation not the “poof” moment that caused the breakdown?

Why was Abbas and his associates repeatedly, clearly, and unequivocally stating that they would never give up on the “right” of millions of Arabs who never lived in Israel to settle in it and to thereby destroy the Jewish state and the two-state solution not the “poof” moment that caused the breakdown?

Why was Abbas repeatedly, clearly, and unequivocally stating that the Palestinians would never agree to an end of all claims/end of conflict not the “poof” moment that caused the breakdown? 

Why was the Palestinians breaking their commitment not to take unilateral actions at international bodies not the “poof” moment that caused the breakdown?

Why?  Because Israel kept negotiating despite these repeated, clear, and unequivocal and seemingly irresolvable positions and despite these violations. 

So, in the Secretary’s strange thinking, Israel is to blame because the Palestinians chose to stop negotiating in response to some provocative statements or actions while Israel chose to continue negotiating despite some provocative statement or actions.

If Israel had refused to negotiate based on the Palestinians actions and statements, who in the Secretary’s mind would have been responsible for the breakdown?  Where would the “poof” moment lie?

It reminds one  of “Through the Looking Glass:”

“‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’”

The Secretary failed to mention that Israel did not just willy-nilly decide to release terrorists who had harmed Jews.  It made the very painful and difficult decision to do so under intense U.S. pressure  because, for reasons known only to Kafka, the Palestinians needed to be bribed to come to the table to negotiate over obtaining a nation of their own.

And the Secretary likewise failed to note that Israel did not just willy-nilly decide not to release the fourth batch of terrorists, but were responding to Palestinian positions that, as explained above, made it clear that they did not intend to continue negotiations after the release.

The Secretary of State failed to mention that Israel offered to release hundreds of prisoners if the Palestinians would simply commit to continue negotiations.

The Secretary of State failed to note that announcing the building of housing units is a long way from actually building any units.  Much more importantly, he continued the very counter-productive habit started by President Obama of referring to any Jewish housing beyond the ceasefire lines of 1949 as a “settlement.” 

The area of the proposed new housing units is in a southern Jerusalem neighborhood called Gilo.  Prior to President Obama, no one ever referred to this neighborhood as a settlement and no one, including Palestinians, ever thought that it would not be part of Israel, and no one ever thought that construction could not take place there. 

By referring to every house, hut, and hot dog stand that happens to be beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines as a “settlement,” this Administration continues to cause the Palestinians to harden their position and continues to make a negotiated solution more difficult.   

The Secretary’s final straw:  using the A word–apartheid–and saying that if a deal is not made–as if Israel alone controls the situation–Israel will become an apartheid state. 

The use of the word apartheid against Israel is part of a deliberate campaign to defame and delegitimize and to ultimately destroy Israel.  It is a cynically dishonest and misleading campaign devised by a group of hate-filled people who convened at the ironically-named 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, a conference hijacked by some of the most vicious Jew-haters one can imagine.  

Israel is not an apartheid state.  Israel has no intentions of becoming an apartheid state.  Apartheid has to do with government-enforced discrimination and separation based on race, which has nothing to do with the conflict and with the defensive measures implemented by Israel.

Time and again, Israel has made offers of far-reaching concessions so that the Palestinians can have a state of their own, something never offered to them by Arab nations who controlled the territory now in dispute.

Alan Dershowitz has said that as Jews were once oppressed, demonized, and libeled, Israel is now the Jew amongst the nations of the world: treated unfairly, isolated, and demonized.  Labeling or inaccurately raising the specter of apartheid against the only Jewish-majority nation in the world is the new blood libel.

For the Secretary of State of the United States to use that word and to aide and abet the Durban campaign, wittingly or not, is simply despicable and horribly irresponsible.  

Could it possibly be the case that a veteran of the public arena like Secretary Kerry uses a word that is so charged, so potentially damaging, so unfairly and incorrectly used, and we are to believe that it just slipped out? 

He really didn’t mean to use it?  He wishes he had chosen a different word?  He didn’t realize it would leak?  He really thought his comments would be kept private?  Would you like to look at this great little bridge I have for sale?

Secretary Kerry seems to habitually make insidious, one-sided, unfair comments that undercut  Israel and undermine rather than encourage the possibility of both parties making the necessary concessions.  He repeatedly has to express regret and to revise or withdraw the comments. 

The Secretary is either incredibly sloppy and stupid and naïve or he is incredibly cynical and duplicitous.  Whichever is the case, it is time for him to go “poof” and to be gone.  Resign.



About the Author
Alan Edelstein was a lawyer and lobbyist in California for 30 years. He currently lives in Jerusalem and Sacramento, California and consults on governmental affairs, communications, politics, and business development. He blogs at Inquiries regarding speaking engagements: