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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Obama nominates Kerry, NJDC finds tongue

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.

President Hussein Obama has nominated John F.N. Kerry to be Secretary of State, and the National Jewish Democratic Council, which had no comment about Chuck Hagel for Defense, has announced that it's 'ecstatic.'

“John has earned the respect and confidence of leaders around the world. He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training,” Obama said in announcing his pick at the White House. “I think it’s fair to say that few individuals know as many presidents and prime ministers, or grasp our foreign policies as firmly as John Kerry.”
Current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has been recovering from a stomach virus and concussion, was not present at the announcement. But she sent out a statement welcoming his announcement which referenced their shared experience as unsuccessful presidential candidates.
“As I have learned, being able to talk candidly as someone who has won elections and also lost them is an enormous asset when engaging with emerging or fragile democracies,” she said.
Kerry has often traveled to the Middle East during his role as foreign relations committee chairman, including meetings with Syrian President Bashar Assad before the civil war there began and with Afghan and Pakistani leaders to smooth US relations with those countries.
Several Senate colleagues welcomed the appointment, which comes after Obama confidant and US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice withdrew her name from contention after being criticized for her handling of the Benghazi, Libya controversy.
The picture from the meeting with Assad is above. The second picture is a letter that Kerry sent on behalf of Code Pink's Gaza 'freedom march' when they went to visit Hamas in Gaza. I'll have more pictures from the Kerry highlight reel below.

Kerry’s selection was also welcomed by several Jewish groups.
Americans for Peace Now Spokesman Ori Nir said of Kerry: “He has consistently demonstrated a deep understanding of the complex foreign policy challenges facing the United States in the Middle East and around the world, and a profound appreciation of and respect for the vital role that US diplomacy can and must play in addressing these challenges.”
And the National Jewish Democratic Council sent out a strong statement of support.
"We are ecstatic to see that President Obama has selected Senator Kerry to be the next secretary of state,” the group said.
“His record on the foreign policy issues of special interest to the Jewish community is exceptionally strong,” the statement continued. “He has been a leader when it comes to Israel and has made it abundantly clear that he – like the Obama Administration – stands squarely behind the Jewish state.”
Just last week, the NJDC couldn't find its tongue to oppose Chuck Hagel at Defense. I guess they find Kerry more palatable. Since they claim to be pro-Israel, one has to wonder why.
The emir told Kerry to focus on Syria as the path toward resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Kerry agreed with the emir that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a man who wants change but pointed out that his arming of Hezbollah and interference in Lebanese politics were unhelpful. Kerry said that Assad "needs to make a bolder move and take risks" for peace, and that he should be "more statesman-like." Kerry also agreed with the emir that the Golan Heights should be given back to Syria at some point.

"The Chairman added that Netanyahu also needs to compromise and work the return of the Golan Heights into a formula for peace," the diplomatic cable reported.

As for the peace process, Kerry defended the Obama administration's drive to use indirect proximity talks (which were only being discussed at that time) as a stepping stone to direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. He said the two sides should first agree on the amount of land to be swapped and then work on borders, followed by settlements.

Kerry also said that final agreement would have to include a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem.


In a separate meeting the day before with the prime minister, Kerry resisted the Qatari leader's assertion that Hamas was ready to accept the existence of the State of Israel, but he agreed that urgent action was needed to rebuild Gaza.

According to the leaked diplomatic cable, the prime minister told Kerry, "We need to broker a quick reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah and move forward quickly on rebuilding Gaza… Senator Kerry asserted that HBJ [Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani] was preaching to the converted and told the PM he was ‘shocked by what I saw in Gaza.'"

I believe that the photo with Ayatollah Ali Khameni is a photoshop. The rest are real.

What could go wrong?

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