KERRY ON ISRAEL: An Alternate Universe.
Kerry’s speech was already going to be drowned out by the global din around United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which passed in recent days after the U.S. abstained, and which among other things lumped Judaism’s holiest sites in East Jerusalem together with the West Bank and declared all of them occupied Palestinian territory. It has been criticized first, as a diplomatic gambit that detonated the peace process and second, as an abandonment of Israel contrary to decades of U.S. diplomacy aimed at blocking international assaults on the Jewish state.
The resolution presented another rhetorical problem for Kerry: to even get to the parameters he was going to have to get past those two criticisms. He needed to paint a world in which the UNSCR built on the peace process rather than detonated it, and boosted Israel rather than abandoning it.
He did exactly that, but at the cost of whatever relevance the speech might have had left, because the world he painted has very little in common with the one we live in. He couldn’t even craft a single version where everything fell into place, but had to leap from one alternate reality to another. Those who work on the Middle East as it actually exists don’t have anything in the speech for them.
This is perhaps not unexpected from the man who invented huge swaths of his Vietnam service record, then gained domestic fame by comparing his fellow U.S. troops there to Ghenghis Khan.