John Kerry’s Passion for Appeasement

Sept. 9 2015

In a speech last week extolling the nuclear deal with Iran, the American secretary of state used the words “Israel” and “Israeli” a total of 26 times. To Rick Richman, he seemed to be “protesting a bit too much about his concern for the ally put at existential risk” by the agreement. Richman also notes some striking similarities between Kerry’s speech and Neville Chamberlain’s defense before the British parliament of the 1938 Munich agreement with Hitler—though Chamberlain emerges favorably from the comparison:

In the debate on the Munich agreement, Chamberlain’s claims were actually more modest than Kerry’s. . . . He said he knew “weakness in armed strength means weakness in diplomacy” and that he had a program to accelerate Britain’s re-armament. . . . At least Chamberlain did not wax on [as did Kerry] about “the builders of stability” overcoming “the destroyers of hope.” At least he did not compliment himself for insisting that Hitler adhere to “the best” in himself. At least he did not assert that such insistence would “shape a safer and a more humane world.” And he had the good grace to admit that his extemporaneous remark about “peace for our time” resulted from a long day and cheering crowds.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Adolf Hitler, Iran nuclear program, John Kerry, Neville Chamberlain, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations

How Israel Can Break the Cycle of Wars in Gaza

Last month saw yet another round of fighting between the Jewish state and Gaza-based terrorist groups. This time, it was Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) that began the conflict; in other cases, it was Hamas, which rules the territory. Such outbreaks have been numerous in the years since 2009, and although the details have varied somewhat, Israel has not yet found a way to stop them, or to save the residents of the southwestern part of the country from the constant threat of rocket fire. Yossi Kuperwasser argues that a combination of military, economic, and diplomatic pressure might present an alternative solution:

In Gaza, Jerusalem plays a key role in developing the rules that determine what the parties can and cannot do. Such rules are designed to give the Israelis the ability to deter attacks, defend territory, maintain intelligence dominance, and win decisively. These rules assure Hamas that its rule over Gaza will not be challenged and that, in between the rounds of escalation, it will be allowed to continue its military buildup, as the Israelis seldom strike first, and the government’s responses to Hamas’s limited attacks are always measured and proportionate.

The flaws in such an approach are clear: it grants Hamas the ability to develop its offensive capabilities, increase its political power, and condemn Israelis—especially those living within range of the Gaza Strip—to persistent threats from Hamas terrorists.

A far more effective [goal] would be to rid Israel of Hamas’s threat by disarming it, prohibiting its rearmament, and demonstrating conclusively that threatening Israel is indisputably against its interests. Achieving this goal will not be easy, but with proper preparation, it may be feasible at the appropriate time.

Revisiting the rule according to which Jerusalem remains tacitly committed to not ending Hamas rule in Gaza is key for changing the dynamics of this conflict. So long as Hamas knows that the Israelis will not attempt to uproot it from Gaza, it can continue arming itself and conducting periodic attacks knowing the price it will pay may be heavy—especially if Jerusalem changes the other rules mentioned—but not existential.

Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israeli Security, Palestinian Islamic Jihad