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Is this a first? State Dep’t rebukes out-of-control Israeli minister

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Moshe Ya'alon, Israeli Defense Minister

Moshe Ya’alon, Israeli Defense Minister

Another sweet moment in the special relationship. A religious zealot who is one of their rightwing government ministers–Defense, no less–attacks the US secretary of state over the peace talks, going on a tirade in newspaper interviews and saying Kerry has a “misplaced obsession and messianic fervor”and should just win a Nobel Prize and then go away.

And: The State Department expresses anger at the statement, saying it would never expect this from the defense minister of “a close ally.”

And the zealot ends up apologizing to Kerry.

First, the only surprise in the story, the slapdown. From the State Department briefing Tuesday:

QUESTION: Yes. The minister of defense for Israel is quoted today as saying that Secretary Kerry is aggressive and messianic and let him – I’m quoting him – let him get the Nobel Prize for peace and leave Israel alone, and that the paper on which the security plan of the United States, as far as the Jordan Valley is concerned, is not worth the paper it’s written on. Do you have a reaction?

MS. [Marie] HARF: We do. If these comments are accurate, we find the remarks of the defense minister to be offensive and inappropriate, especially given all that the United States has done to support Israel’s security needs and will continue to do. Secretary Kerry and his team, including General Allen, have been working day and night to try to promote a secure peace for Israel because of the Secretary’s deep concern for Israel’s future. That’s precisely why the Secretary and his team have been working so hard here. To question his motives, to distort his proposals, is not something we would expect from the defense minister of a close ally, and again, if accurate, I think we’ve been very clear that we would find these comments offensive and inappropriate.

BBC reports the apology:

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon has apologised for quotes that appeared in a newspaper that lambasted US Secretary of State John Kerry’s role in the Middle East peace process…

However, in a statement, Mr Yaalon’s office said that he had no intention to cause any offence.

“The defence minister… apologises if the secretary was offended by words attributed to the minister.”

Israel and the US shared “a common goal” of advancing peace talks with the Palestinians, the statement said.

“We appreciate Secretary Kerry’s many efforts towards that end.”

Al Jazeera highlight the State Department’s rebuke and more of Ya’alon’s remarks.

The US State Department on Tuesday described the Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon’s comments as “offensive”, in a mark of the degree of outrage in Washington at the latest public spat between the two allies, which follows a major disagreement over Iran policy.

“The American plan for security arrangements that was shown to us isn’t worth the paper it was written on,” Yaalon was quoted as saying in private conversations with Israeli officials.

Ynet reports that the comments have sparked division inside the Israeli government. Labor leader Isaac Herzog has called on the so-called centrists in the Israeli ruling coalition to resign:

“Kerry has been making every effort possible. It won’t be tolerated if he’s slandered,” he said. “I’ve met with him twice this month and I found a determined man, a political leader who tells the same truths to both sides.”

Justice Minister Livni wrote on her Facebook page that Kerry should be commended for his efforts, and that no one had the right to destroy Israel’s friendship with the US.

“Our relations with the US are our biggest national strategic asset, and they are vital for Israel’s security,” he said. “You can oppose the negotiations and still not verbally attack and damage our relationship with our best ally.”

Richard Silverstein was on this story two days ago. He offers these quotes from the man he calls a “bemedalled jackass”:

“I live and breathe the conflict with the Palestinians; I know what they think, what they want and what they are really planning,” [Ya’alon] said.

“Secretary of State John Kerry — who arrived here determined, and who operates from an incomprehensible obsession and a sense of messianism — can’t teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians.”

“The only thing that might save us is if John Kerry wins the Nobel Prize and leaves us be,” he added.

Silverstein knows about Ya’alon:

The first thing that must be said here is that if anything, it is Yaalon who operates out of a messianic obsession.  I’ve documented here that Yaalon toured Australia with Moshe Feiglin under the auspices of the settler movement.  Indeed, Meir Kahane’s grandson made the arrangements for them.  When he was IDF chief of staff, his commander in chief, Prime Minister Sharon told him to assist in the withdrawal from Gaza.  Yaalon refused.  Sharon sacked him.

Not to mention that I’ve documented Yaalon’s outright lies both about Iran and the Palestinians.  This man couldn’t tell the truth about anything concerning Arabs if his life depended on it.

But the real topper is for Yaalon to claim he knows what Palestinians think, want and plan….[H]e hasn’t a clue.  In fact, I’d venture to say that every opinion he has about Arabs is wrong.  Having him as defense minister is akin to having Typhoid Mary appointed secretary of agriculture.

Returning to the peace talks, when Kerry promised the Israelis that their eastern border would be the “quietest in the world,” Yaalon exploded (Hebrew):

“What are you talking about?  You’ve offered us a plan that relies on sophisticated technology, satellites, sensors, war rooms filled by banks of TV monitors without our physical presence in the field.  I ask you–how will technology respond when a Salafist or Islamic Jihad cell tries to mount a terror operation against Israeli targets?  Who will deal with them?  Which satellites will deal with the rocket factories that will set up shop in Hebron and launch their missiles at Tel Aviv and central Israel?  In Gaza, terror groups already have thousands of missiles that can hit the center of the country.  They’ve already transferred this technology and expertise to produce missiles in the West Bank.”

Once again, note that neither Islamic Jihad or Salafist cells have attacked Israel from the West Bank.  Nor is there any evidence the Israeli government or its intelligence agencies have produced showing that missile production expertise has been exported from Gaza to the West Bank.  I haven’t even heard that there are missiles in the West Bank.  This is sheer bluff.

We’ve just seen the death and burial of perhaps the greatest Israeli bluffer (read, “liar“) of them all, Ariel Sharon.  Yaalon learned a few things at Sharon’s knee, it appears.

Yaalon continued with his diatribe, this time launching into his “they-must-recognize-us-as-a-Jewish-state-or-else” mode:

“If there is no change [on the Palestinian side] regarding this matter, then there isn’t any purpose to the satellites or sensors the Americans propose.  The five year-old in a suicide vest will continue trying to kill us when he grows up.”

The ultimate chutzpah of this bemedalled jackass may be seen in his response to being taken to the woodshed by the Obama administration, which called his comments “unacceptable.”

Thanks to Henry Norr.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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40 Responses

  1. Tzombo on January 16, 2014, 1:43 pm

    Lol, ‘a close ally’. What does Israel have to offer the US, except their enemies are now the US’ enemies?

  2. Taxi on January 16, 2014, 2:13 pm

    Out of control DEFENSE MINISTER, no less – LOL!

    Israel’ s image problem in America? Yeah the (sooty) snowflake that became a (sootier) snowball that is fast becoming a dirty-dirty avalanche.

  3. Taxi on January 16, 2014, 2:24 pm

    Moshe Ya’alon is one crazy, twisted mothereffer. Can’t handle the pressure, it seems. I insist he retains his position as israel’s Defense Minister till kingdom come.

  4. xanadou on January 16, 2014, 2:27 pm

    An ad hominem is not an argument.

  5. FreddyV on January 16, 2014, 3:08 pm

    Calling someone demonstrably crazy by reference of the article isn’t ad hominem……

    • RoHa on January 16, 2014, 9:15 pm

      I feel professorial today, so I’ll spell that out for xanadou.

      Argument 1.
      1. Ya’alon says crazy things.
      2. People who say crazy things are crazy.
      3. Therefore, Ya’alon is crazy.

      As you say, Freddis, this is a perfectly valid argument form, and not argumentum ad hominem. (Valid does not mean that the conclusion is true. It means that the conclusion follows from the premises.)

      “Argument” 2.
      1. Ya’alon makes claims.
      2. Ya’alon is crazy.
      3. Therefore, Ya’alon’s claims are false.

      This is an example of argumentum ad hominem. A person’s claims or arguments re rejected on the basis of an irrelevant fact about the person making the claims. Ya’alon could be as mad as a cut snake and a box of frogs put together, and still be making true claims.

      But Taxis position is that of argument 1.

    • piotr on January 16, 2014, 10:01 pm

      If we discuss a person, we must use arguments that refer to that person, hence, ad hominem. I find it curious why Ya’alon called Kerry aggressive and messianic. This is not the usual type of complaint. Commenters at Mondoweiss disparage Kerry on the regular basis but I think that nobody tried that angle. I would venture a guess that our Defense Minister was called aggressive and messianic so many times that got convinced that this is the most normal thing one can say.

      Is it possible that Israel, threatened as she is, decided to give the most crucial cabinet post to a person who is not only aggressive and messianic but also quite dense?

      • RoHa on January 17, 2014, 7:35 pm

        “If we discuss a person, we must use arguments that refer to that person, hence, ad hominem.”

        But this is not the argumentum ad hominem fallacy. In that fallacy, the characteristics of the person are irrelevant to the argument
        or the claims, but are used as a reason for rejecting those claims.

        Allow me to offer the (totally fictitious) example of Professor Stevenson.

        1. Stevenson’s research shows that the Jensen Interceptor was the most reliable car ever built.
        2. Stevenson is a wife beater.
        3. Therefore we should reject his conclusions about the Jensen Interceptor.

        This is argumentum ad hominem. His regrettable domestic affairs (premise 2) have nothing to with the Jensen Interceptor.

        1. It is not wise to marry wife beaters.
        2. Stevenson is a wife beater.
        3. It is not wise to marry Stevenson.

        Here premise 2 is relevant, so this is not an argumentum ad hominem.

  6. Mike_Konrad on January 16, 2014, 4:10 pm

    Our US government is asking Israel, a nation – a nation with a history of being threatened from the day of its birth in 1948; and prior to 1948, a people singled out for genocide – to seriously agree to taking steps which threaten its existence in an area of the world where suicidal attacks are considered honorable.

    Of course their ministers will say unwise things.

    Its not like our politicians do not utter stupidities from time to time.

    • libra on January 16, 2014, 6:30 pm

      Mike, who better to give someone a break for uttering stupidities than your good self?

    • talknic on January 16, 2014, 7:21 pm

      @Mike_Konrad” Israel, a nation – a nation with a history of being threatened from the day of its birth in 1948″

      Uh? Jewish forces were already in territories outside the State of Israel on the day its borders were proclaimed. Jewish forces have ALWAYS been in territory not slated for or proclaimed or legally acquired by the State of Israel, busy dispossessing non-Jews, razing homes, villages. No Israelis have been dispossessed in any war. No Israeli territory has been taken in any war. No war has ever been fought in Israeli territory. All of Israel’s wars have been started by Israel and in non-Israeli territory “outside the State of Israel” … “in Palestine”

      It has been what remained of Palestine after Israel was proclaimed that has been under threat, its territory illegally acquired by Israel, its citizens dispossessed by Israel. Its territory under belligerent Israeli occupation.

      “Our US government is asking Israel …. to seriously agree to taking steps which threaten its existence”

      Bullsh*t. If Israel was to adhere to the Law, UN Charter and relative conventions, it would be afforded the protection of the UN/UNSC same as Kuwait.

    • just on January 16, 2014, 7:47 pm

      Israel’s illegal, sadistic, and burgeoning insane behaviors are the reason that so many dislike it. It’s an apartheid statelet that disgusts many, and an ever growing number of people all over this planet are becoming aware and vocal in words and most importantly, in actions.


    • puppies on January 16, 2014, 11:12 pm

      “where suicidal attacks are considered honorable.”

      Of course, we have to put our foot down there. Suicide attacks honorable? That is crazy!
      The only honorable attacks are, in the order of precedence, those performed sitting in a drone command chair, in a place, or in a tank. Massacring civilian populations by physical presence is also honorable, provided there are at least 10 soldiers armed to the teeth for each civilian (a discount for 7 or more soldiers will be given for details sent to beat or murder kids aged 13 or less.)
      But then, that’s how it goes. Ayrabs being dirt poor because they always shirk work (besides being under military occupation, look that up) cannot afford the honorability of planes, tanks and drones. Often their only capital is their persons. If you want honorability, you should convince your government to distribute enough planes, arms and training to offset the unequal situation. I can promise you honorable killings from then on.

    • Talkback on January 19, 2014, 6:09 am

      … Israel, a nation – a nation with a history of being threatened from the day of its birth in 1948; …

      LOL. Don’t forget to fantasize about its immaculate conception by Holy Mother Irgun.

  7. OlegR on January 16, 2014, 6:10 pm

    Ayalon is neither a zealot nor is he religious , sloppy research at best …

    • wondering jew on January 16, 2014, 7:06 pm

      OlegR- Sometimes Phil takes off his journalist’s hat and puts on his propagandist’s hat. Thus since Zionism is a religious movement, therefore Ya’alon is a religious zealot. This way he can get his choir all hepped up. And who cares about accuracy, if the choir is on your side.

      • just on January 16, 2014, 7:42 pm

        He’s just another butcher…in a long line of “proud” butchers.

        btw yonah– WHY are you part of this “choir” anyway? Surely you can find a place where your voice can be heard and not dismissed out of hand.

      • wondering jew on January 17, 2014, 9:31 am

        just- I realize your question is meant as harassment, but nonetheless I will answer. I am here to sharpen my wits and to refine and redefine (for myself) what is possible in the Middle East during my lifetime and in the lifetime of my nephews and nieces.

      • talknic on January 17, 2014, 9:53 am

        yonah fredman “I am here to sharpen my wits and to refine and redefine (for myself) what is possible in the Middle”

        But not to learn that Israeli expansionism is obviously A) illegal; B) immoral; C) indefensible.

      • wondering jew on January 17, 2014, 10:03 am

        talknic- I learn a thing or two once in a while, but very little from you, you repetitive self satisfied person.

      • talknic on January 17, 2014, 10:38 am

        @ yonah fredman “I learn a thing or two once in a while, but very little from you, you repetitive self satisfied person”

        I don’t expect you to learn anything. It’s not in a propagandists brief to learn. However, every time you afford the opportunity to show the gaping holes in the Hasbara, other readers do.

        The truth, from Israeli Government statements and official UN documents, doesn’t change. Knowing the truth is very satisfying, cleansing to the soul and quite worth repeating, over and over.

        Israel is acting in, illegally acquiring, illegally annexing and illegally settling it’s citizens in non-Israeli territory and it’s demands have no legal basis what so ever.

      • wondering jew on January 17, 2014, 10:48 am

        All OCD people say that about repetition.

      • talknic on January 19, 2014, 5:27 am

        @ yonah fredman “All OCD people say that about repetition”

        Like “Israel didn’t declare any borders”? When clearly it had to to become an independent state and it clearly did in its official plea for recognition

        Or “The GC’s don’t apply”? Yet the UNSC says they do!

        Or “there was never any state of Palestine”, when the LoN Covenant Article 22 clearly states there was.

        Yes. I know what you mean.

      • OlegR on January 17, 2014, 5:11 am

        I think it’s the other way around.

      • ziusudra on January 17, 2014, 10:08 am

        Greetings yonah,
        …Thus since Zionism is a religious movement……
        Judaism is a religious movement.
        Was John Houston a Protestant or conqueror enlarging
        the US by 45%?
        Was Sant’Ana a Catholic or conqueror protecting his
        theft from the Indians?
        How do you spell ideology?

    • Cliff on January 16, 2014, 7:09 pm

      Who is ‘Ayalon’, OlegR?

      Where does it say ‘Ayalon’ anywhere above?

    • thankgodimatheist on January 16, 2014, 8:27 pm

      Moshe Yaalon may not be strictly religious but there’s certainly a STRONG whiff of messianism in his far-right ‘Greater Israel’ ideology. And given that he’s not in this repulsive set of dogmas out of religious convictions his case is made even worse.

      • thankgodimatheist on January 16, 2014, 8:40 pm

        “even worse”…or no different. Just the other face of the Israeli fascism’s coin.

      • thankgodimatheist on January 16, 2014, 8:50 pm

        Someone who states that “regarding the issue of the settlements, in my opinion Jews can and should live everywhere in the Land of Israel”. Where did he pull this mythical ‘land of Israel’ shtick if not from religious scripture?
        How exactly “non-religious”?

    • Shingo on January 16, 2014, 8:53 pm

      Ayalon is neither a zealot nor is he religious , sloppy research at best …

      Yeah he just sounds, looks, thinks and acts like one.

      Oh and you will argue that he’s not religious even as he insists God gave the land to the Jews.

    • talknic on January 16, 2014, 9:28 pm

      @ OlegR “Ayalon is neither a zealot nor is he religious ..”

      Who cares, Moshe Ya’alon is just another lying schmuck for ILLEGAL Israeli expansionism.

      The Palestinians ask for their legal rights. Not one of Israel’s demands has any legal basis.

    • puppies on January 16, 2014, 10:54 pm

      Bullshit again. A Zionist minister in a God-appointed mission government hellbent on bringing the end of the world (or at least wwIII) and he is not a zealot?
      Get yourself a dictionary. As for religion, he is a government minister of a theocratic government.

  8. Citizen on January 16, 2014, 6:24 pm

    I pray that Israel’s minister of defense keeps speaking up his every thought about Kerry and Obama.

    • James Canning on January 16, 2014, 7:41 pm

      @Citizen – – And let’s hope the New York Times prints his comments on its front page.

  9. American on January 16, 2014, 7:30 pm

    I always love these apologies by politicians…lol….they never mean a word of their apology.
    It would probably be better policy to ignore them and not even demand they apologize and let them keep on yaking away to where ever they end up politically.

  10. thankgodimatheist on January 16, 2014, 8:53 pm

    Moshe Yaalon on the Palestinians:
    “The Palestinian threat harbours cancer-like attributes that have to be severed. There are all kinds of solutions to cancer. Some say it’s necessary to amputate organs but at the moment I am applying chemotherapy.”

  11. BillM on January 17, 2014, 11:45 am

    The only real meaning if this story is that the US was able to force a retraction of/apology for the remarks within 24 hours. This fact highlights the fact that the US can pretty easily force action in Israel if it wants to. Hence, every time Israel builds a new settlement tract that the us “officially disapproves” of, the reality is that the US is quite happy to let it happen. The US could force action (or the halting of action) on Israel any time it wanted, if the government cared even slightly. But it doesn’t…

    • just on January 19, 2014, 6:11 am

      You are correct– if there is a will, there is a way.

      We are complicit in the illegal actions of Israel, and I dearly want this unholy alliance ended.

      • just on January 19, 2014, 6:25 am

        Nosferatu is baaaaaaack:

        “The United States and Europe have a “misguided understanding” of the Middle East and “do not understand its processes,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told an audience in Jerusalem on Thursday night, according to a report in Ma’ariv newspaper.

        Seemingly undeterred by last week’s diplomatic incident with the United States, during which he was compelled to apologize for personal attacks on Secretary of State John Kerry, Ya’alon made it clear that he totally rejected the military framework proposed by the Americans in the context of the ongoing peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

        “Sensors and drones are no substitute for the physical presence of Israel Defense Forces soldiers,” the defense minister said, in an address to the Jewish Statesmanship Center in Jerusalem “The Jordan Valley is vital to the security of Israel, and we cannot assent to third parties being there in our stead. Security in the valley must remain in our hands for an extended period,” Ya’alon said.

        “As defense minister I strongly support technological innovations that assist our forces but they cannot replace our physical presence in the field.”

        While refraining from making any personal remarks about Israel’s allies, Ya’alon was scathing about what he described as the “Western preoccupation with the Palestinian issue,” which, he said, was far from being the principal problem in the region.

        He also criticized the Obama administration for assisting in the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt, while refusing to assist the “counter-revolution” of the Egyptian military, which he termed Washington’s “natural ally.””

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