U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently warned that "the status quo between Israel and the Palestinians" cannot continue, noting that while there is prosperity and momentary security in Israel, it is "an illusion" that is bound to change if [peace] talks flounder. "The risks are very high for Israel," Kerry said. "People are talking about boycott. That will intensify in the case of failure. We all have a strong interest in this conflict resolution."
In short, Kerry is threatening Israel with a boycott and even security unrest if it does not accept the peace plan he says he will deliver in two weeks. Is Kerry actually endorsing the anti-Israeli boycott that delegitimizes America's only stable and democratic ally in the region? Also, what is the peace plan Kerry is so determined to force on the Israelis and Palestinians?
Kerry's talk of boycotting Israel comes at a time when the anti-Israeli boycott rhetoric is becoming shrill; one day after Kerry's talk, two major European banks decided on actions against their Israeli counterparts.
Sweden's Nordea Bank, the largest in Scandinavia, asked for "clarifications" from Israel's Bank Leumi and Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank regarding their activities in the West Bank.
Also Denmark's largest bank, Danske Bank, said on its website that it was boycotting Israel's Bank Hapoalim for "legal and ethical" reasons, again in reference to its operations in the West Bank.
Recently, the $200 billion Dutch pension fund PGGM also decided to divest from the five largest Israeli banks, ostensibly because of their involvement in the West Bank.
Kerry's comments were not only a stab in the back that any country would not expect from its closest ally; they also provided support to the enemies of Israel -- such as the smiling, racist members of the European Union.
For decades, the EU and many European nations have been secretly funneling hundreds of millions of taxpayers' euros to organizations that work towards overthrowing Israel. The EU also, despite mountains of evidence, could not even bring itself to declare Iran's proxy organization, Hizballah, a terrorist group; and if Iran is legitimized, so probably will be Iran's other proxy terrorist group, Hamas.
Joining this club of racists is the United Nations, whose record of one-sided anti-Israel hostility is so pronounced that even one of its own translators commented on it. This record not only includes the frequent resolutions condemning Israel, as opposed to any other nations that commit far worse human rights violations than those Israel is accused of committing, but also the openly racist Durban Conferences, ostensibly organized to counter racism, but which, as anyone can see, in fact promote it.
The cumulative effect of this pile-on against Israel only provides approval for the enemies of Israel to intensify their attacks -- including anti-Israeli boycott, divestment and sanctions [BDS] campaigns -- even more.
Kerry, and many others in the West, understand perfectly well that boycotting Israel reduces job opportunities not only for Jews, but also for Palestinians who work for in Israeli factories, farms and settlements, inside Israel as well as in the West Bank. The Palestinians who work there often receive ten times the remuneration, as well as better working conditions, than they would find among their own people, as has been revealed recently by the workers at companies that have actually been building real bridges of peace such as SodaStream, rather than organizations that have been sanctimoniously blowing up the bridges for peace, as Oxfam has. As usual, the Europeans know what will happen if there are fewer ways for the Palestinians to earn a decent living, as they knew when they left all their colonies. In the West Bank, you lose your job, you sell you house, then you sell your car, then after a year, someone knocks on the door and says they will pay you if you throw rocks The first year you say no; the second year you say yes. The Europeans evidently care more about flagellating Israel than helping Palestinians. They are presumably happy to leave the "savages" to go jobless, hungry and at the mercies of their corrupt dictatorships. What good people the Europeans are!
The question then arises: Why do those in the West who claim such hand-wringing concern for the Palestinians seek to harm Israeli businesses that offer them jobs? Do they forget that the Arabs refused to accept a partition plan in 1948, and started all subsequent wars to prevent Israel's existence? Do they think that if Israel just withdraws to the 1967 line that the Palestinians will disregard their Charters, which view Israel as one big settlement and which assume a Palestine "from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea"?
In other words, is the Arab-Israeli Conflict -- which it is, far more than a Palestinian-Israeli Conflict -- actually about territory, or about the existence of Jews who have come home to the land given to them by the Holy Qur'an, Sura 7 [Al-A'raf; "The Heights"] 137: " And We made those who had been persecuted inherit the eastern and western lands which We had blessed. Thus your Lord's gracious promise was fulfilled to the children of Israel, for they had endured with patience; and We destroyed all that Pharaoh and his people had wrought, and all that they had built."
Of course, even though we Muslims might prefer it if the Israelis were someplace else, as a Muslim, I must ask why are Israelis always found guilty for defending themselves? Could it be that the old, politically-incorrect anti-Semitism has now simply been replaced by a new, supposedly politically-correct anti-Israelism?
Also, what is this peace plan Kerry is so determined to force on Israel?
Kerry's plan, recently outlined in the media, includes: the division of Jerusalem; Israel's withdrawal from most of the West Bank, while it would retain control over the largest Jewish settlements there; a land swap to compensate the Palestinians for the settlement bloc [one can only imagine the years of wrangling about what a "commensurate piece of land" would consist of in each instance, thereby perpetuating the conflict a few more millennia]; recognition by the Palestinians of Israel as a "Jewish state," and compensation for Palestinian refugees who would no longer have a "right of return" to Israel.
In addition, the London-based newspaper, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, reported on January 8, 2014 that Kerry's plan actually revolved around solving the Palestinian refugees' problem through "settling them in Jordan under Jordan's king and granting the king $55 billion for hosting the Palestinians for five decades."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Jordanian King Abdullah II in Amman, Jordan, on May 22, 2013. (Image source: U.S. State Department)
A careful look at the plan, however, raises the following issues:
Palestinian Authority President Abbas has already said he would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state. But the real problem is that even if he did, he or his successor could easily change his mind and retract the recognition of Israel after it after had already given back the West Bank -- "that was him, not me" -- as well as in the time-honored tradition of Hudaibiyya which his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, repeatedly invoked in Arabic to justify signing the Oslo Accords. So much for treaties, as can presently also be seen in the ongoing Palestinian abrogations of UN Resolutions 242 and 838, as well as bilateral agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel -- -- again endorsed by Secretary Kerry.
Palestinians also say Abbas does not represent them because he has overstayed his four-year term by six years, and therefore has no legitimacy, or mandate, to sign anything. Abbas would undoubtedly also be regarded by many Palestinian hard-liners as a traitor -- as was Egypt's President, Anwar al Sadat -- and almost certainly be assassinated.
From an Israeli perspective, how could Israel be Jewish and give up sacred parts of its soil including Judea and Samaria and parts of Jerusalem? Would the U.S., for example, agree to give up Oregon, Delaware and half of Washington DC in exchange for recognition from Iran?
Kerry also wants Israelis, including those who live in settlements, to be surrounded by a Palestinian state. If I were a Jew, I would frankly not want to be living in a tiny country or a settlement surrounded by people who are incited day-in and day-out that their mission in life is to kill you, let alone that the entire country is regarded by many Arabs as one big settlement, "from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea," as they put it. It is bad enough when a country -- now home to over a million Arabs, who have all the same opportunities as the Jews -- is slandered in a lie that it is apartheid, but for a new Palestinian state to be legally born apartheid, officially free of Jews, after having had to listen to the international community unjustly hurl that word around all those years -- seems both legally and morally indefensible.
Last of all, it is important not to forget that historically, whenever Israel gives land for "peace," as in Egypt, southern Lebanon and Gaza, instead of rewards it gets concussions.
According to Al-Quds Al-Arabi and the Jordanian media, Kerry's plan includes giving Jordan's King Abdullah II $55 billion to settle his Palestinians "in order to solve the Palestinian refugee problem." But Jordan's Palestinian majority have already been Jordanian citizens for decades. Further, Yale University's visiting professor and Washington Institute Fellow, Hassan Barari, reported recently that, "A Western-funded study showed that apparently only 8 percent of the Palestinians now in Jordan would practice the right of return if they could." This means the Palestinians in Jordan already have been settled, so evidently there is no real "refugee problem" there.
YNet News reported on 16 January that the "Kerry's peace plan was born" when Jordan's king suggested it to President Obama after meeting him last year. If the YNet report is true, Obama and Kerry should have listened to and consulted with Palestinians then, before adopting the King's plan, to avoid wasting everyone's time.
Despite everything, the Israeli government has recently exhibited a willingness to accept Kerry's plan. The Palestinians have, as usual, rejected the plan: senior Palestinian Authority official Yasser Abed Rabbo called Kerry's plan "Israeli ideas." In addition, last month, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told an audience at a conference in Munich he could never agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
To this author, Kerry's peace plan seems to be based on assumptions that are likely not to materialize or, if they are, to stay materialized, as he can see from what happened in Gaza, and above all, in the Palestinian Authority's unwillingness to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The Palestinians have been offered a state many times since 1947; each time they have rejected the offer. It seems, looked at dispassionately, that they are less interested in having a Palestinian state than in destroying a Jewish state.
At the same time, Kerry's boycott threats only embolden Israel's many adversaries, including the Europeans, who seem to enjoy colluding with the Arabs, probably for the money, to launch new BDS campaigns, as they high-handedly compromise the interests and legitimacy of Israel, the only ally on which America can actually depend on in the unstable Middle East.
Daoud Assaf, a Palestinian Muslim, is a long-time resident of the Middle East.
 In Islam, Hudaibiyya is the story of Mohammed's promise to the tribe of the Qurayesh in Mecca not to attack for ten years; but after assembling a powerful army, Mohammed returned after three years, conquered the tribe, occupied the city and gave tribes' members the choice of either becoming Muslims, or leaving their homes and going elsewhere.