The Strange Moral Calculus of John Kerry


Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 2.51.25 PMOn Wednesday the Israeli daily Maariv reported (summarized in English here) that the Israeli defense establishment

totally reject[s] the American proposal for security arrangements in the Jordan Valley…. The American proposal presented to Israel was based on a limited Israeli presence at the border crossings along the Jordan River for a limited number of years, together with the massive use of technological means such as satellites and drones that would replace the army’s presence on the ground.

The position of the security services, as agreed upon recently by the Defense Minister, is that no replacement for the IDF will protect Israel’s security interests, and that even the most advanced technological means do not offer a serious alternative.

Thursday found Secretary of State John Kerry in Israel for the tenth time since taking office last February. His mission was described as “pushing for the sides to agree on guidelines for what the final deal would look like.”

Meanwhile it was reported again that the Palestinian side—including Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and all his negotiators and officials—totally rejects any compromise, even a diluted, temporary Israeli military presence, in the Jordan Valley, calling it “Palestinian” even though it has never been under Palestinian rule and has been an Israeli territory since 1967.

Considering that other “core issues” like Jerusalem, “refugees,” and the borders of a putative Palestinian state are no less difficult, it is, as usual, perplexing to see Kerry continuing to invest American resources and prestige in pursuit of “guidelines” for a “final deal.”

But the show has to go on, and on Tuesday a third batch of twenty-six convicted Palestinian terrorist murders were freed; the release of four such groups was, after all, Abbas’s condition for entering the talks at all.

As Elliott Abrams noted in a perceptive blog post:

the prisoner releases are not CBMs [confidence-building measures]; they are CDMs, confidence-destroying measures. With some American pressure, Prime Minister Netanyahu has released a third tranche of long-serving security prisoners—murderers, to be exact.

The first thing this does is diminish confidence in the United States. After all, we never do this; we never release murderers or terrorists from our prisons for political reasons. That we expect Israel to do so teaches Israelis that we will ask Israel to take risks we would not take, and do not fully understand the security situation they face.

Abrams goes on to quote from a report in The Telegraph:

scenes of…Abbas…kissing and hugging each prisoner after their release provoked revulsion in Israel, with critics complaining that most of the inmates had been convicted of murdering Israelis. “Each one of us sees this and we ask ourselves, can we make peace with these people, who welcome murderers with flowers as if they were heroes,” Silvan Shalom, the Israeli regional development minister, told Israel Radio.

The released prisoners included—just a few out of the twenty-six:

Damouni Saad Mohammed Ahmed will be released to the Gaza Strip this week more than 20 years after he was convicted of taking part in the brutal lynching of IDF reservist Amnon Pomerantz, who took a wrong turn into a refugee camp in the coastal territory in 1990—he was beaten to death before his car was set alight by firebombs.

Yosef Mahmad Haza Haza was only 17 when he and a friend murdered hikers Leah Elmakayis and Yossi Eliyahu at a forest on the Gilboa mountain range in 1985….

Fatah member Abu-Dahila Hasan Atik Sharif will be released to the West Bank 21 years after his arrest for the murder of Avi Osher, who employed him for 15 years at his Jordan Valley farm before Sharif beat and stabbed him to death.

The list includes Amer Massoud Issa Rajib, one of those convicted in the murder of Ian Feinberg, who was hacked and shot to death in April 1993 in the Gaza Strip, where he had been working on economic revitalization plans for the area.

Netanyahu has followed these prisoner releases with announcements of Israeli building plans in East Jerusalem and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). Although these moves have been criticized for seeming to create an equivalency between freeing murderers and building homes, they have some psychological value for Israelis in allaying feelings of helplessness and humiliation.

This time, though, Netanyahu is delaying the announcement—until after Kerry’s visit. The aim is not to “embarrass” him—as Vice-President Joe Biden was grievously embarrassed during a March 2010 visit to Israel. What then provoked a major contretemps with the Obama administration was an announcement of plans to build in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.

Kerry, though, evidently feels no embarrassment at President Abbas’s kissing and hugging murderers. True, they were released with Kerry’s full approval.

Abrams’s point about “confidence-destroying measures” can be taken further. The U.S. wants Israel to be pliant like Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. But trying to put the Jordan Valley up for grabs, even though a four-and-a-half-decade consensus of Israeli military leaders views it as indispensable to Israel’s security, is not the way to achieve that.

Nor is signaling that Israeli lives don’t count for much, and taking Israeli lives isn’t much of a crime.

Nor is treating parts of Jerusalem that were illegally occupied by Jordan from 1949-1967, or “West Bank settlements” that we’re told will remain part of Israel anyway, as Jew-free zones.

Though a nationalistic, distrustful Israel with a sense of beleaguerment may not be what John Kerry wants, it’s what he’s increasingly promoting. How much better it would be to treat Israel as an ally.

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  • TheOrdinaryMan

    In a word, Kerry stinks. He reminds me of a character from a bad sci-fi TV show.
    What he asks Israelis to do is simply unconscionable, and he should be banned from further visits to Israel.

    • Benny

      Well said. Bann Kerry without pre conditions

  • Bamaguje

    John Kerry should stop obsessing about the Arab-Israeli conflict, and find something else to do… like helping the more deserving Tibetans against China, or Kurds in Turkey/Iraq.

    The best way to get the so-called Palestinians to compromise is to totally ignore them. Fawning over them as Obama administration does, encourages their intransigence and insolent grandstanding.
    They’d be more reasonable and willing to compromise when they believe no one gives a damn about them, and they have run out of options.

    As for Israeli releases of Palestinian mass murderers, I blame the Jewish nation for not executing these Jihadi criminals in the first place… as most other nations would have done.

    • defcon 4

      The Kurds are my favorite islam0fascists as well. After all, their part in the genocide of some 2.5 million Armenian and Assyrian Christians is well documented.

      • Softly Bob

        Ha, ha. It just goes to show that Islam is so terrible that even the good ones are still murderous savages – just less so. I suppose the moral of the story is that there is no such thing as a decent Muslim. They’re all scumbags, but some are scumbags with puppy-eyes.

  • Shalom Freedman

    What Kerry thinks he is doing is not clear to me. The sides are completely opposed on all the basic issues.
    Of course the undue pressure on Israel from the Americans is wrong and worse.But I am deeply disturbed that Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to release murderers, and violated a sacred contract between government and the people. It is outrageous that those families who suffered losses should be caused additional pain.

    • TheOrdinaryMan

      What a one-sided deal! The U.S.A. should at least offer to release Jonathan Pollard!

    • Shel_Zahav

      Read my analysis above.

  • Mark McDonald

    John Kerry has been known since the Vietnam War to not be respected by military troops. While Kerry did server as an officer in Vietnam, he slammed the men who severed under him. John’s Middle East tour, While eating in the mess hall, John meets a chilly reception. U.S. Soldiers refused to sit at the same table with John.

    John Kerry declared war before our Commander in Chief made a decision. John Kerry claimed that they exhausted every avenue of negations attempts with Syria, yet Russia found an exchange. While President Bush was in Office, he requested that Nancy Pelosi not visit Assad in Syria in 2006, yet she did. And it was not for government business, it was for Democratic business

    JOHN KERRY LIAR – Dexter Lehtinen a former Army Ranger in Vietnam and Florida state senator purchased full-page ads in military newspapers recounting how he learned of John Kerry’s 1971 accusations of war crimes as he lay severely wounded in a hospital. John Kerry during his 1971 testimony alongside a quote with his blanket indictment that American soldiers “raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, cut off limbs, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan … .” committed in Vietnam by my fellow soldiers. Dexter Lehtinen says “Those wounds – the bearing of false witness against me and a generation of courageous young Americans who fought and died in Vietnam – are much more serious than any wound warranting a Purple Heart,” he said. “Those wounds go to the heart and soul. Those wounds never go away.

  • Mark McDonald

    John Kerry has been known since the Vietnam War to not be respected by military troops. While Kerry did server as an officer in Vietnam, he slammed the men who severed under him. John’s Middle East tour, While eating in the mess hall, John meets a chilly reception. U.S. Soldiers refused to sit at the same table with John.

    John Kerry declared war before our Commander in Chief made a decision. John Kerry claimed that they exhausted every avenue of negations attempts with Syria, yet Russia found an exchange. While President Bush was in Office, he requested that Nancy Pelosi not visit Assad in Syria in 2006, yet she did. And it was not for government business, it was for Democratic business

    JOHN KERRY LIAR – Dexter Lehtinen a former Army Ranger in Vietnam and Florida state senator purchased full-page ads in military newspapers recounting how he learned of John Kerry’s 1971 accusations of war crimes as he lay severely wounded in a hospital. John Kerry during his 1971 testimony alongside a quote with his blanket indictment that American soldiers “raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, cut off limbs, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan … .” committed in Vietnam by my fellow soldiers. Dexter Lehtinen says “Those wounds – the bearing of false witness against me and a generation of courageous young Americans who fought and died in Vietnam – are much more serious than any wound warranting a Purple Heart,” he said. “Those wounds go to the heart and soul. Those wounds never go away.

  • frustrated67

    Kerry has no moral character. He sold out his fellow veterans upon return from Viet Nam and will never be considered except by marxist as anyone with any validity as far as international politics

    • defcon 4

      I don’t seem to remember Kerry or Hanoi Jane ever criticising the North Vietnamese government either. A totalitarian government that had nothing to do w/democracy and everything to do w/oppression. Of course, Kerry has no criticism for islam0fascist states in which persecution of the najjis kaffir is SOP either.

  • defcon 4

    Was Jimmy Carter ever this delusional or corrupt?

  • R.C.

    The word ‘only’ does not correctly go before that of a seventeen year old man and murderer–at seventeen he was a grown man and full accountable!

  • carpe diem 36

    kerry has only one goal: he works on his Nobel Peace Prize. he is willing to sacrifice israel and its people for this goal. it is utterly disgusting. he is no diplomat, he shows no talent for starting any meaningful negotiations, he is a bully. i think it was a terrible thing that he demanded, and Bibi agreed to release these murderers. i would not have let him into israel if I were netanyahu until he brings a real negotiating partner to the peace talks. the PA will never agree to the existence of a Jewish state where it is now, no matter how many concessions Israel is making. he is not only wasting his time, he is forcing israel because the USA is bigger to agree to do what they should not do. he and his boss are nothing but bullies. israel should not be bullied. period.

  • carpe diem 36

    i do not need any more proof that kerry is a certified idiot. he got this mission because obama did not know what else to do with him. he should find some work at the factory, not in diplomacy.

  • Patricia Anderson

    Executing terrorists would prevent them posing a future threat. The same goes for the blind sheik. Governments have no business keeping terrorist alive. Prison for life is a comforting lie that can suddenly become very uncomfortable for innocent civilians.

    • Softly Bob

      The blind sheik should not be executed. He should be dressed in robes that are made out of Israeli flags (he wouldn’t know the difference) and then be flown back to the Middle East and dumped into the Arabian desert with no white stick, no guide dog (he wouldn’t want an unclean guide dog anyway) and only a copy of the Qu’ran to read and a bottle of beer to quench his thirst. The Qu’ran should be on plain paper and not be printed in Braille.
      Actually just give him a Bible and tell him it’s the Qu’ran!

      • Clockp

        Don’t forget pork ribs for his daily nutritional needs…

  • Mladen_Andrijasevic
  • Guest

    This is an excellent and important article. Bibi made a mistake by putting the likes of Livni in charge of so much. And he made an enormous mistake by releasing murderous terrorists. Kerry is out to destrouy Israel.

    • Ken Kelso

      See but here’s where your wrong.
      The reason Bibi put Livni in his government is because Bibi is basically Livni.
      Everytime the Europeans and State Department put pressure on Netanayahu, he gives in.

      • defcon 4

        I have to wonder what kind of blackmail the State Dept. is using to strong arm Israel.

  • reuven

    This is an excellent and important article. Bibi made a mistake by
    putting the likes of Livni in charge of so much. And he made an
    enormous mistake by releasing murderous terrorists. Kerry is out to
    destroy Israel.

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      Both Obama and Kerry are out to destroy America.

  • Ricard Moby

    Let’s be perfectly clear on one thing. This is not Kerry, it’s Obama. Whatever comments are made of Kerry, they apply in FULL measure to Obama. Obama is the one that stinks; Kerry is simply a lackey. And a bad one at that. Israel, stand fast; this idiot too, shall pass.

    • defcon 4

      Don’t count on it. 2016 will be a very interesting year. There might even be a Reichstag fire before the presidential elections.

  • cacslewisfan

    What else do you expect from John Kerry? How does he live with himself?

  • http://longhornproject.org/ Robin Rosenblatt

    That is because Obama and his staff are working hand and glove with the Muslim Brotherhood. Israel already knows this. I told them long ago. If you want this information contact me.

  • Jsjk

    Forcing Netanyahu to release murderers undermines Israeli sovereignty, in that it undermines Israeli courts (the judicial process), and makes Israel appear to be a puppet of the U.S. But for Obama — it is a win-win situation. It gives a boost to terrorists (Obama is an avid supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood), it defames Israel (as if the terrorist scumbags are nothing more than “political” prisoners), and if a sufficient number of Israelis blame Netanyahu, it undermines Netanyahu. A perfect triangulation for the criminal Chicago Thug-in-Chief (aka Obama).

  • Marridge
  • Shel_Zahav

    Kerry needs a success to take on Hillary. That’s what this is all about.

  • Danny

    Netanyahu is a criminal. I don’t care what kind of pressure Kerry has brought to bear on him. He has cheapened the lives of Jews by releasing their murderers, regardless of whatever rationale he has for doing so. There will be no peace in Israel, this should be obvious. No amount of concessions to these Arab murderers would ever be interpreted as acts of good faith. That is not the way they think. Instead, every concession will be interpreted as a sign of weakness. If Netanyahu is the representative of the Right in Israel, who must be his alternative? Anybody on the Left would be even more pathetic, more slavish, more ready to make concessions. I can’t even put into words how disgraceful this whole situation is.

    • defcon 4

      I can’t imagine being the PM of Israel. I can’t imagine the kind of stress he must be under or the intel he has access to.

    • Ken Kelso

      Danny you are right on the money when you say, Netanyahu cheapened the lives of Jews by releasing their murderers.

      Remember what Kahane said,
      I prefer an Israel hated by everybody than in Auschwitz loved by all.”

      Right now Chaim Ben Pesach who is the successor to Kahane has been barred from entering Israel by the cowards who run Israel.
      That includes Likud, Kadima and Labor.
      Chaim Ben Pesach wants to use all out force to stop these Islamo killers from terrorizing Israel and Chaim Ben Pesach wants a death penalty to Arab killers.
      You can go on his site and the forum message board to see his views
      http://jtf.org/forum/index.php/board,1.0.html

      Read this great article about him.

      http://www.jdl-uk.org/2012/07/chaim-ben-pesach-jewish-hero-forbidden.html

      Chaim ben Pesach a Jewish hero forbidden to make Aliyah
      July 18, 2002

      • defcon 4

        Why has Chaim ben Pesach been denied the right to make Aliyah? Isn’t this a violation of Israel’s constitution? Did the US government have anything to do with it? Who in the Israeli government determined Chaim ben Pesach was to be denied the right to Aliyah?

  • http://littlenotesfromparis.blogspot.fr/ Rita

    Kerry is as ugly on the outside as he is on the inside, But with what is he black-mailing Bibi who is more intelligent than to fall for such primitive, vulgar Obama-traps?

  • Gee

    There is one a single solution – deport all the Arabs and execute all the murderers.

  • Anamah

    The entire plague is pushing the best part of humanity to the abyss…

    When it will be recognized as criminal deliberated intent?

  • Ken Kelso

    Great article David Hornik. You mentioned how Kerry wants to deal with appeasers like Livni.
    This is the same Livni that wants to talk to Palestinian terrorists who bomb Israeli buses.

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/175437#.UrmWa_RDsng
    Livni: Ignore the Terrorists and Keep Talking
    Justice Minister says that the terrorists who carried out the bus bombing in Bat Yam should be ignored in favor of peace talks.
    Elad Benari
    12/23/2013

    Yet why did Netanyahu put this radical Livni in his government?
    Livni’s appeasement party only got 6 seats in the last election.
    Thats why people will say Netanyahu is basically Livni, Olmert, Barak and Peres.

    On Kerry, Kerry supported the Turkish Jihadist flotilla people.
    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/173961#.UsmDF_RDvls
    Report: Kerry Supported Gaza Flotilla Members
    Maariv: in 2009, then-Senator Kerry gave letter of support to radicals who later took part in Marmara flotilla.
    11/13/2013,

  • Shel_Zahav

    PM Netanyahu knows that the PA will never make a peace agreement. He has made a large bet on it.

    Let us remember two important facts:

    (1) The heads of the PA were elected 10 years ago to a 4 year term.
    Like all Arab tyrants, they are not interested in democracy or reform,
    but to stay in power. That is more important to them than the ruse of
    Palestinian nationhood.

    (2) Almost all the factions constituting the PA and virtually all of
    their rivals (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc.) are dedicated to destroying
    Israel and have no desire to reach a permanent accommodation where
    Israel exists in any form along with a normalization of relations. They
    just cannot do this, so a true peace agreement is out of the question.

    So, whatever Israel does does not alter:

    (1) Ongoing terror attacks against civilians

    (2) Firing of missiles from Gaza at civilian targets in Israel including purposeful attempts to murder civilians

    (3) The EU ignoring these flagrant violations of morality, law and treaties

    (4) Der Sturmer-like news outlets like The Guardian, BBC, and the NYT
    publishing the most ridiculous falsehoods about Israel based on
    misguided beliefs and prejudices.

    (5) John Kerry’s peace process. Since the Secretary of State is
    really using this process to support his desire to run for president
    next year, he will not hesitate to spend any amount of US taxpayer money
    in this effort. It isn’t about peace, it is about, “I wanna be elected.”

  • Silver Garcia

    In a word, one can no longer trust the American govt. Full of over paid over pensioned rats.

    kerry should be dumped in the Mediterranean. Israel should stop being a welcome mat for the US.

    I pray to God that once Israel becomes a gas and oil producer based on the recent discoveries in the Med, it gives the US the boot and the stupid American Jewies, embraces Russia and China. The REAL powers now.

  • Silver Garcia

    Jordan attacked Israel. Israel warned Jordan not to attack. Jordan listened to Egypt. Iraq abandoned Jordan.

    To the victor goes the war booty. This is the law of men. But REAL men are not Democrats.

    Are these Dems not embarrassed seen kissing and hugging murderers or Holocaust deniers?

  • USARetired

    You cannot change the stripes on a Skunk, nor eliminate his odor, so be Kerry!

  • Ace Boogie

    kerry is a ghoul.