First, I find it problematic for Sen. Kerry to define America’s interest as the same as Israel’s interest. I do agree that Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia pose various threats to the US, but they are threats to the US; the challenges to Israel, European countries, Russia, etc., are different. By equating America’s and Israel’s interests, it makes it harder to create a separate policy identity for and in the region. Either Sen. Kerry is bushifying the issue (making it so simple, it’s wrong) or he is pandering to the audience so hard he is jeopardizing US interests.
[As an aside, I think it’s interesting that US policy is that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. I know of no other situation where the US would call a country based on religious affiliation a democracy in the sense the sense it is normally used – equal access and participation by all its citizens. As a technical definition, it is correct. However, by the technical definition, Iran is a functioning democracy. This aside is not meant as an indictment of Israel, but as commentary on US foreign policy.]
Sen. Kerry mentions Iran, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In principle, I agree with him, but the lack of details make it difficult to comment in a substantive form.
He does make a distinction between being anti-Israel and being anti-Semitic; much of the Middle East discourse treats the two terms as synonymous, when in fact they are not, and that distinction will hopefully allow more sophistication in the debate on the Israel-Palestine issue. However, I’m not convinced that creating a separate division for dealing with anti-Semitism is a good policy. Discrimination is a nuanced subject, but is anti-Semitism/Judeophobia so different from other forms of discrimination that is has to be dealt with in a separate office? Are human rights violations committed because of race or Islamophobia less important? Does this separate office lead to an enclave mentality within the Jewish community? Is the Jewish community perceived as an isolated group as a result? thereby increasing Judeophobic crimes?
He may be dismissive of Arafat, but where does that get the US in terms of being a fair and honest broker in the peace?
While understand that this is a short piece for a particular audience, I hope Sen. Kerry delivers a more nuanced and thoughtful, dare I say sensitive, approach to questions in the Middle East.