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Sunday, March 03, 2013

60K dead in Syria, Iran and N. Korea going nuclear, and the world's most urgent priority is... the 'Palestinians'?

Former Industry and Trade Minister and Russian Prisoner of Conscience Natan Sharansky has promoted a 3-D test of anti-Semitism. The three D's are demonization, double standards and delegitimization. Here's how Sharansky describes double standards:
The second “D” is the test of double standards. From discriminatory laws many nations enacted against Jews to the tendency to judge their behavior by a different yardstick, this differential treatment of Jews was always a clear sign of antisemitism. Similarly, today we must ask whether criticism of Israel is being applied selectively. In other words, do similar policies pursued by other governments produce similar criticism?

It is antisemitic discrimination, for instance, when Israel is singled out for condemnation by the United Nations for perceived human rights abuses while proven obliterators of human rights on a massive scale — like China, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Syria, to name just a few — are not even mentioned. Likewise, it is antisemitism when Israel’s Magen David Adom, alone among the world’s ambulance services, is denied admission to the International Red Cross.
By that definition, I would label British Foreign Secretary William Hague's statement at last week's London press conference with US Secretary of State John FN Kerry as anti-Semitic. With 60,000 dead in Syria, and with Iran and North Korea on the verge of becoming rogue nuclear states, Hague defines the world's top foreign policy issue for 2013 as... the 'Palestinians.'
As is customary, the two held a brief press conference after their meeting – Kerry’s first abroad as secretary of state – and Hague got the ball rolling with an opening statement.

“We’ve had detailed and very thorough talks covering the full range of global affairs,” he said. “Top of our agenda was the Middle East, including the importance we both attach to ending the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, and I welcome the focus that he has brought to bear on this issue since his appointment. There is no more urgent foreign policy priority in 2013 than restarting negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. The region and the world can’t afford the current dangerous impasse in the peace process; for if we don’t make progress very soon, then the two-state solution could become impossible to achieve.”

There you have it. More than 60,000 Syrians have been slaughtered in that country, Iran continues to march toward nuclear capability, North Korea recently detonated another nuclear device, Europe’s economy is teetering on the brink, but for Hague and the British Foreign Office “there is no more urgent foreign policy priority in 2013” than Israel and the Palestinians.

“So,” Hague continued, ”there’s a burning need for the international community to revive the peace process in efforts led by the United States and supported by European, Arab and other nations.

And my promise to Secretary Kerry today was that the United Kingdom will make every effort to mobilize the European Union and Arab states behind decisive moves for peace. And I warmly welcome President Obama’s planned visit to the Middle East this spring and, indeed, Secretary Kerry’s own travel to the region shortly.”
But the good news is that after President Obama was burned so badly by the 'Palestinians' in his first term, Kerry didn't take the bait. 
Then Kerry took the podium and reversed that order. He spoke first of trade, then support for fledgling democracies, then Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and – at the very end – Israel and the Palestinians.

“And finally, on the Middle East peace process, I appreciate deeply William’s and the UK’s unwavering support for that goal,” Kerry said, signaling that he was about to launch into the regular platitudes.

“We share a vision, as I think people in the world do, of two states living side by side in peace and security. Today, we talked about how we can support the two parties reaching that end, because frankly that is the only way to achieve a lasting peace. So I look forward to continuing to work with William on these and so many other issues, including working together on the agenda for the G8 summit later this year. And, I might comment, I know President Obama is looking forward to his visit to the region in an effort to try to begin to make decisions about the path forward.”

There you have it – Kerry put the Israeli diplomatic process at the end of his to-do list, Hague put it at the very top of his. And it is safe to say that Kerry put it at the tail end of his remarks not because this is not something that is important to him and his boss, but rather because, since Obama announced that he will be coming to Israel at the end of March, the US has done everything it can to lower expectations of any dramatic breakthrough during that visit.
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