U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's claim that the lack of a "two-state solution" has fueled the rise of the Islamic State [IS] terrorist group reinforces how clueless the U.S. Administration is about what is happening in the Arab and Islamic countries.
Speaking at a State Department ceremony marking the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, Kerry said that the resumption of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians was vital in the fight against Islamic extremism, including Islamic State.
'Forget ISIS... let's talk more about a Palestinian state.' Above, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry greets U.S. Special Representative to Muslim Communities Shaarik Zafar during an Eid al-Adha reception on Oct. 16, 2014 at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. (Image source: State Dept.)
"There wasn't a leader I met with in the region who didn't raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation," Kerry said. "People need to understand the connection of that. And it has something to do with the humiliation and denial and absence of dignity."
The U.S. State Department later denied that Kerry had made the statement attributed to him.
Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters that Kerry's comments were distorted for political gains; she pointed a finger at Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.
"What [Kerry] said was that during his travels to build a coalition against the Islamic State, he was told that should the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be resolved, the Middle East would be a better place," Harf explained.
The Islamic State is one of the by-products of the "Arab Spring," which began as a secular revolt against Arab dictatorships and degenerated into anarchy, lawlessness, terrorism and massacres that have claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Arabs and Muslims.
The "Arab Spring" did not erupt as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, it was the natural and inevitable outcome of decades of tyranny and corruption in the Arab world.
The Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and Yemenis who removed their dictators from power did not do so because of the lack of a "two-state solution."
Nor did the Arabs revolt because of the failure of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. This is the last thing these Arabs had in mind when they took to the streets to protest against decades of dictatorship and bad government.
It is this "Arab Spring," and not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt. And it is the same "Arab Spring" that saw the emergence of Islamic terror groups such as the Al-Nusra Front, the Islamic Front, the Army of Mujahedeen, Jund al-Sham and, most recently, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
The rise of the Islamic State is a direct result of the anarchy and extremism that have been sweeping the Arab and Islamic countries over the past few years.
The thousands of Muslims who are volunteering to join Islamic State are not doing so because they are frustrated with the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. They are not knocking on the Islamic State's doors because they are disappointed that the two-state solution has not materialized.
Kerry is anyway naïve to think that the jihadis believe in something called a "two-state" solution. The only solution the Islamic State believes in is the one that would lead to the establishment of a radical Sunni Islamic Caliphate across the Middle East where the surviving non-Muslims who are not massacred would be subject to sharia law.
Not only is the Islamic State opposed to the "two-state solution," it is also opposed to the existence of both Israel and a Palestinian state. Under the new Islamic Caliphate, there is no room for Israel or Palestine or any of the Arab and Islamic countries.
Had Kerry studied the goals and ideology of the Islamic State, he would have discovered that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not even at the top of the group's list of priorities.
In fact, the "liberation of Bait al-Maqdis" [Jerusalem] is ranked sixth among Islamic State's objectives.
The group's first goal envisages stirring chaos in the Arab and Islamic countries.
Second, the group will move on to what it calls "management of savagery" in these countries.
Third, Islamic State will embark on the process of establishing an Islamic Caliphate.
Fourth, it will proceed with "liberating neighboring countries and expanding the size of the Islamic Caliphate.
Fifth, the group will start the process of "liberating the Islamic countries," including Bait al-Maqdis.
Obviously, Kerry must have missed the speech delivered by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last July.
Al-Baghdadi did not talk about the "two-state solution." Nor did he call on Muslims to join his group because of the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Instead, al-Baghdadi told his followers that, "Allah likes us to kill his enemies, and make jihad for his sake. O Allah, give Islam victory over the disbelief and the disbelievers, and give victory to the mujahideen, in the East of this earth and its West."
What Kerry perhaps does not know is that the Islamic State is not interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all. The terrorist group did not even bother to comment on the last military confrontation between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The failure of the Islamic State to express solidarity with the Palestinians or Hamas during the war drew strong condemnations from some of the Arab world's leading columnists.
"What is shocking and strange is that the Islamic State and other terrorist groups that claim to speak on behalf of Islam did not make a single move as Israeli planes were shelling civilians inside the Gaza Strip," remarked Egyptian columnist Jamil al-Afifi. "Nor did any of their wise men come out to condemn the ruthless killings (in the Gaza Strip).
Kerry did not reveal the identity of the "leaders" who told him that the absence of peace between Israel and the Palestinians was a "cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation" in the Arab and Islamic countries.
What is clear, however, is that Sunni scholars do not seem to share Kerry's assessment.
Last month, over 120 Sunni scholars issued an open letter denouncing the Islamic State and its religious arguments. "You have misinterpreted Islam into a religion of harshness, brutality, torture and murder," the letter said. "This is a great wrong and an offence to Islam, to Muslims and to the entire world."
Needless to say, the scholars did not mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a cause for the rise of Islamic State.
That is because unlike Kerry, the Sunni scholars know that the Islamic State is completely unrelated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And unlike Kerry, the Muslim scholars fully understand that Islamic State has more to do with Islam and terrorism than with any other conflict.