The State Department is now on the defensive over a To-whom-it-may-concern letter that then-Senator John Kerry wrote in 2009, in support of constituents visiting the Palestinian territories. The letter was later used by leaders of the Gaza Freedom March when they tried to gain entry into Gaza from Egypt (the letter didn’t work, we were largely turned away, I was there).
State is denying that the letter was written for the Gaza freedom marchers or participants in the flotilla a few months later. Ron Kampeas reports State’s response:
The Massachusetts Senate office receives hundreds of requests each year for letters like this for constituents traveling to other countries.
Sen. Kerry never saw it, nor did senior staff see it. It was put together by his Boston office and would also not have involved senior staff members on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Moreover, the text of the letter has nothing to do with the flotilla incident or even Gaza.
It focuses purely on a humanitarian mission in Israel and the Palestinian territories in support of the peace process. Kerry’s staff would have provided the letter so that Massachusetts residents could receive meetings while they were in Israel and the Palestinian territories. That is all. And if it was used for anything else it was under false pretenses.
Richard Silverstein says the production of this letter by the Israeli press and its friends here is evidence of how low the lobby will go to smear Kerry.
“This letter, one of hundreds Kerry has undoubtedly written over the years, is designed to ensure the safe passage of his constituents who travel into regions where such a letter might carry some weight. Thus, a harmless pro-forma letter becomes an indictment of both the aid groups themselves and John Kerry for supporting them.”
Some of the smearing. Reports Kampeas:
[Maariv’s Ben-Dror] Yemini likens this [letter] to Avigdor Liberman hypothetically handing a similar letter to the hilltop youth – hardline West Bank settlers — asking to tour the Temple Mount. Yemini suggests this letter tells us a lot about recent tensions between Kerry and the Israeli government. He promises more on Friday. Meanwhile, the Algemeiner has seized on the report and it is swirling around social media.
It’s becoming glaringly apparent how Kerry’s harsh lengthy interview on Israeli television last week aroused ire. The Israelis are savaging Kerry because he dared to criticize Israeli settlement expansion as illegitimate. A senior government minister tells Amos Harel of Haaretz that Kerry can no longer serve as an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians.
Jerusalem, meanwhile, was irate over the warnings that Kerry issued in an interview with Channel 2 of a third intifada breaking out if there was no progress in the talks. In this case, Jerusalem points to the secretary of state, and not the president, as the source of the tension.
“This is a direct confrontation with Kerry, not Obama,” said the senior minister. “The diplomatic talks are the secretary of state’s baby. His ideas are simply not connected to reality. He preaches to us and threatens us with a combination of a third intifada, international isolation and legitimizing unilateral Palestinian applications to UN-related organizations. This man is providing legitimacy to Palestinian behavior that deviates from the framework of our agreements. He is not an honest broker.”
The honest broker attack is central to a smear from the Begin Sadat Center in Jerusalem: “Kerry’s Antagonism Unmasked,” by David M. Weinberg:
John Kerry has abandoned America’s honest broker stance in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. His warnings about the coming isolation of Israel and of a third Intifada – unless Israel quickly allows the emergence of a “whole Palestine” and ends its “perpetual military occupation” of Judea and Samaria – effectively tell the Palestinians that they should make sure the talks fail, and then Israel’s “gonna get it.” …
Kerry chose to launch a full-bore attack on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and on all Israelis who – in Kerry’s words–pig headedly “feel safe today” and “feel they’re doing pretty well economically.” He laid out the consequences for Israel of disobeying America–no safety and no prosperity. He laid out no similar consequences for the Palestinians if they remain intransigent.
Biden wants the lobby’s money for his run against Hillary. He has been a total AIPAC tool his entire career. Although Hillary is too, she cannot do anything for Netanyahu now. She is out of office.
So Joe (“I Seen My Opportunities & I Took Em”) Biden plays the role Elliott Abrams played when George W. Bush was president. Inside man. Every time Secretary of State Colin Powell was in the Middle East trying to get a deal, Abrams was on the phone with Ariel Sharon conspiring.
That is what Biden is doing. He is on the phone with Netanyahu and his personal AIPAC “donor” (Michael Adler of Florida) promising that he will stop Kerry, don’t you worry about it.