08 January 2014
An Open Letter to Secretary of State John Kerry

Dear Mr. Secretary,

Over the next week or so, you will be unveiling a US proposal for a “framework agreement” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as a prelude to a final status arrangement.

Before you do so, I encourage you to realistically consider the issues that gravely concern most Israelis, and to believe wholeheartedly that Israelis genuinely yearn for peace and will overwhelmingly endorse a plan that separates them from the Palestinians, provided their security is ensured.

Unfortunately, Mr. Secretary, you and the administration you represent are operating on premises that are misguided or false. President Obama has deluded himself into believing that this conflict is essentially about real estate, an idea that has been disproved many times, most clearly when Palestinian Presidents Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas rebuffed Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert’s offers to relinquish 95% of the territories formerly occupied by Jordan.

As befits a mediator, you have lavished praise on President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, and repeatedly stated that both parties are willing to make sacrifices to achieve peace. But alas, this assertion repeated endlessly by all parties including Israelis, is simply false and contributes towards the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ environment surrounding this issue which suppresses reality.

Dismissing political correctness the fact is that our “peace partner” is a corrupt authoritarian regime that brutally suppresses dissent. Over the years, the Palestinians’ corrupt officials have diverted a substantial portion of billions of dollars of international aid to private, offshore accounts. This corrupt entity could collapse at any time, and the constitutional term of office of its President has long expired.

Our “peace partner” is indisputably committed to the elimination of Jewish sovereignty in the region. That is why Palestinian leaders so adamantly refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. President Abbas even denies that the Jewish people have a biblical or historical link to the land.

Our “peace partner” continuously assures its adherents that Israel’s destruction is inevitable. President Abbas has learned that he can better work toward this goal by exerting duplicitous diplomatic pressure on Israel than by engaging in terrorism. Through this deceitful diplomacy, he is attempting to dismantle Israel in stages, a strategy the majority in his government openly supports. Indeed, in the unlikely event that President Abbas finalizes an agreement that waives additional claims and pronounces the end of the dispute, there is little doubt that he will be assassinated.

I urge you, Mr. Secretary, to face the harsh reality that by American and Western standards, through intense propaganda, the Palestinians have engineered what can only be defined as a criminal society. All sectors of Palestinian society—the government, religious networks, the media, the educational system-–engage in brainwashing the Palestinian people, from kindergarten-age up, into regarding Israelis as  demonic monsters and sanctifying fanatic Islamic suicide bombers and terrorists as martyrs. Just last week, your colleague, the official Palestinian spokesman, Saeb Erekat, whipped up fervor by accusing Israel of having murdered Yasser Arafat and speculating that we would kill President Abbas.

Mr. Secretary, can you imagine an American government making peace with a neighboring government that provides salaries from humanitarian funds for incarcerated murderers of American citizens, and pensions to their families? Would Americans approve their government negotiating with a neighbor whose leader personally embraced and hailed as national heroes those convicted of barbarically murdering American civilians? Would Americans contemplate making peace with a neighbor who imposes the death penalty on citizens who sell land to Americans?

Bear in mind, Mr. Secretary, that nearly half of Palestine is comprised of “Hamastan,” the genocidal, Islamic fundamentalist entity that occupies the Gaza strip and from which missiles against our cities are still being launched. Were it not for an Israeli military presence in the area, Hamas already would have wrested control of other areas currently under Palestinian Authority control. Hamas remains dedicated to the destruction of Israel, and sanctions the murder of Jews everywhere. Hamas’ Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Zahar, recently proclaimed that “any deal inked between the Palestinian Authority and Israel would be non-binding for the Palestinian people.”

Mr. Secretary, you have put pressure on us to make outrageous concessions under absurd conditions. You have forced our hand in releasing mass murderers in order to “induce” a hostile neighbor to agree to commence negotiations. Can you morally justify freeing terrorists convicted of killing women and children? Could you visualize the response of Americans to an outside party who pressured their government to act in this manner?

Mr. Secretary, during your numerous visits to the region, you have insisted that you would never be party to a policy that undermines Israel’s long-term security. But this is precisely what you are proposing.

You do not take any account of the unpleasant reality that our “partner”, the corrupt PA could collapse or be taken over by Hamas any time should the IDF totally withdraw from the area.

But setting that aside Mr. Secretary, you are now suggesting that more sophisticated technology combined with an international, possibly American force, replace the IDF in sensitive areas.

Israel has never asked America or any other country to fight on its behalf. We are profoundly conscious of the fact that we can rely only upon ourselves in the event of military attack. It is inconceivable for us to contemplate sub-contracting any aspect of our security to a third party, including the US.

Nor can technological advances alone protect our borders. While UN Resolution 242 implicitly provides for secure, defensible borders, adherence to the1949 armistice lines, which give Israel a mere nine- to fifteen-mile wide waistline, will place future generations at peril. And it is imperative that we retain depth and an IDF presence in the Jordan Valley. These border issues are absolutely fundamental to Israel’s security.

In addition, Mr. Secretary, I find it difficult to comprehend your knee-jerk responses to housing construction for Israeli citizens in Israel’s capital and areas over the Green Line that will always remain part of Israel. This issue appears to weigh more heavily on your mind than the carnage and sectarian violence taking place throughout the Mideast region with hundreds of thousands of people brutally killed in within Syria which borders us.

The Oslo Accords never precluded settlement construction. And whilst Israelis are divided over construction in isolated settlements in disputed areas, they are pained that our American ally contributes to the global hysteria around this issue – even when the construction in question is taking place in Jerusalem’s Jewish suburbs.

Many long-standing friends of the US currently believe that the Obama administration has contributed to our regional chaos. Many of your staunchest Arab allies have lost faith in you. We pray that we may be wrong, but to us and many others, the US gamble with Iran appears an impending disaster.

I respectfully suggest, Mr. Secretary, that you pause before advising Israel on what is in her best interest. (Imagine where we would be today had Israel shared your optimism about Syrian President Bashar Assad and taken your advice to cede the Golan Heights.)

Israel’s relationship and friendship with the US is profound and based on genuine shared values. We are also deeply reliant on American military and diplomatic support, and greatly appreciate that the military aid provided by the Obama administration has exceeded that of its predecessors.

But we believe that the American people understand that Israel cannot afford to continue to make unilateral concessions, to accept the Palestinians’ stubborn refusal to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state, to accede to their unrelenting demand for the right of return, or to compromise on long-term security issues.

Mr. Secretary, please do not attempt to score an unattainable foreign policy achievement. In the absence of Palestinian concessions on critical issues, a solution simply is not possible and should your initiatives undermine Israeli security, you will leave a legacy as the US Secretary of State who abandoned the one and only genuine democracy and US ally in the Middle East.

We hope that you will concentrate on seeking interim solutions, encouraging mutual economic projects to improve Palestinian living standards and maintaining the channels for dialogue so that progress can be achieved should a more accommodating Palestinian leadership emerge.

I urge you to set aside conventional political correctness to appreciate that our concerns are for the lives of our children and grandchildren, the future of our nation. I pray that you will contribute to our realization of the biblical vision of Prophet Isaiah, and enable Israelis and Palestinians to set aside their weapons, and work together for the social and economic betterment of all inhabitants of the region.

The writer may be contacted at ileibler@leibler.com

This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom

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Isi Leibler

Isi Leibler is a veteran international Jewish leader with a distinguished record of contributions to the Jewish world and the cause of human rights, including the struggle for Soviet Jewry. He was head of the Jewish community in Australia for many years and made aliya in 1999. Leibler has held senior roles in the World Jewish Congress, including chairman of the governing board and senior vice president. Today, he writes prolifically and is a regular columnist for The Jerusalem Post and Yisrael Hayom.

(2) Readers Comments

  1. Elements of Israeli society, including the otherwise reputable Jerusalem Post (which has lost its former luster), remain un reconciled with our current President, interpreting his hopefu initiatives for a more secure Israel as part of a devious grand design to undermine the Jewish State. Equating him to the discredited Neville Chamberlain of Munich infamy, further poisons the attempt for lasting living arrangements with the ubiquitous Palestinians. Of course, in this frame of mind the writer of this article gives no credence to President Obama when the latter unequivocally states the he has “Israel’s back.” Such positions does not serve Israel or Bibi well, as I invite the reading of Yehuda HaLevy’s My Promised Land, to realize that mindless building in questionable territories destined to be part of a yet-to-born Palestinian state, actually does a disservice to our common goal for Israel as a democratic, liberal, and Jewish homeland. And let us keep in mind that, since Truman, every succeeding President has attempted to outdo his predecessor in his support for Israel and Jews; the incumbent is surely no exception to this rule, and the sooner this fact is digested the earlier you will lose your unnecessary anxiety, and regain your equilibrium.

  2. Israel was attacked for the last time by her neighbor’s armies in 1967. Until then, all the Arab League and Israel’s enemies proclaimed that their dream (?) was to destroy the nascent Jewish State, they claimed that a Jewish State was not acceptable in their midst. Again, they lost and Israel recaptured Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria from th Jordanians, Gaza from the Egyptians and the Golan Heights from the Syrians, whohad been raining shells daily on the kibbutzim in the valley below.

    In 1949, only four years after the Holocaust, when the Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians, Egyptians, Saudis, Moroccans, Algerians, etc. sent their troops to either kill, or throw all the Jews in that reborn tiny country into the sea, few around the world complained. Not the U.N. , the United States, England and France, who all embargoed weapons deliveries to Israel, and left them to their own devices…maybe as the Arabs believed, a hint to finish off the remainder of the Jews forever.

    It did not happen that way. Israel won in 1949, but lost half of Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria to overwhelming forces.

    No one complained, threatened, or cajoled the Jordanians to return the half of Jerusalem and the Jewish Biblical provinces of Judea and Samaria which they captured in 1949 and renamed part of the city EAST JERUSALEM and changed the names of Judea and Samaria to WEST BANK, symbolically to make that area part of the Kingdom of Jordan, on the East Bank of the River Jordan.. In the process, they destroyed all vestiges of Jewish culture tracing back over 5000 years. . Synagogues were razed, Headstones from Jewish cemeteries were used to build latrines for the Jordanian Legion soldiers. I was there when the Jordanians took pot shots from their side of the city into the Jewish Israeli parts.

    The Egyptians, after taking over Gaza, trained Fedayeen to do night raids into Israel from the strip and kill as many Jews as possible.

    No one complained. Secretaries of State did not travel to the region for “Peace Talks”, or to re-arrange the borders. Resolutions from the U.N. were passed only to condemn Israel when it defended itself from the Fedayeen or made a raid into their camps to stop an attack on Israeli Settlements, no one compained about the invasions..

    When in 1967 Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser threatened again to destroy the State of Israel, and closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships, Israel struck back. General De Gaulle, France’s President, allowed the sale and shipment of Mirage Jet fighters to Israel. Israel struck back in June 1967. It destroyed the Egyptian and Jordanian Air Forces on the ground. Recaptured the half of Jerusalem as well as Judea and Samaria from Jordan. The Gaza strip from Egypt. In addition Israeli troops invaded the Sinai peninsula, and reached the Suez Canal. 100.000 Egyptian troops were taken prisoner in the desert. A formed Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, forced Israel to free
    them with all their equipment, as a “Gesture of good will” (?)

    After that, the United States, under Presidents Nixon, Kennedy and Johnson turned around and started arming Israel with American Weapons. Israel became the closest, most reliable ally of the U.S. in the Middle East.

    Now, another turnaround under the administration of President Obama. Israel has been treated worse than an enemy. But it is not personal. This administration treats all our friends and allies as enemies. President Obama treated the Prime Minister of Israel as a pariah (very rude, under any circumstance) and Secretary of State John Kerry did not even like the American troops he fought side by side with. He testified in Congress of alleged atrocities during the Viet Nam war. Check out this site:

    https://faculty staff.richmond.edu/~ebolt/history398/JohnKerryTestimony.html

    President Abbas is not interested in an honorable peace accord with Israel. He and Erekat were both working for Yasser Arafat, nothing has changed, except the faces.

    Anyone trusting their official declarations, added to the efforts of John Kerry, should remember what happened when Israel withdrew from Lebanon…They got Hizballah and thousands of rockets. When they moved out of Gaza they got Hamas…and thousands of rockets. When they moved out of the Sinai, bands of Al-Queda terrorists moved in roaming the desert attacking Egyptians and Israelis equally….etc…etc…

    Will the world ever learn? Mr. Kerry is on a quest for El Dorado…which is a legend…it’s not real…It will not happen. Remember Munich and Chamberlain?

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