John Kerry’s speech on Wednesday captured the headlines and prompted vocal responses from both sides of the political spectrum. Kafe Knesset talked to the Likud chair of the Knesset’s foreign affairs committee, Avi Dichter, former head of the Shin-Bet security services, to try and understand his party’s anger.
Q: Why did Kerry spark such an intense reaction?
Dichter: “You know, just in court, you commit to tell only the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Kerry only fulfilled the first part of that obligation. His speech included truths, but not all of the truth, and not only truth, and its unfortunate because one would expect someone as senior and experienced as Kerry to be more loyal to the facts, and more trustworthy in his historic review. I feel like inviting him for a cup of coffee and clarifying the course of history.”
“Kerry’s modern history appears to begin in 1967 but it should begin 99 years ago with the Balfour declaration: when he mentioned the 1947 UN partition plan he forgot to say that Israel accepted the plan and 7 Arab States did not, and instead invaded the country and dragged us into a 2 year Independence War. There were just so many points in his speech where I found myself asking – how can you be so unfair and unbalanced in your historic prism? There are two sides to this story, and Kerry only slammed one of them. Couldn’t he have found one good word to say about the Israeli leadership? We have been dealing with the Palestinians since 1993 – is there nothing to be said about the Palestinian side? Israel was the one who took a risk here, allowing the Palestinian leadership to return to the West Bank and Gaza and build the Palestinian Authority.”
Q: But Kerry was trying to convey a specific message about the direction this government is leading to.
Dichter: “I think he was unfair. He quoted an Israeli politician calling to annex the West Bank, and I expected his next sentence to include a quote from Abbas or Haled Mashaal, but it didn’t. To denounce the Israeli leadership and not even mention the fact that Abbas will be concluding 12 years in power soon since the last elections. I think Kerry should have showed us that he understands the whole story and the wide arrow of complexities, but he didn’t, and the speech’s credibility just faded out – because he was not telling the whole truth.”
Q: Some of your colleagues have been using extremely harsh words towards the Obama administration, do you agree with their accusations?
Dichter: “I don’t agree with the some of the statements, I don’t think the Obama administration is anti-Semitic or hostile, but I think that its Middle East policy was naïve in a concerning manner, and if you would interview an Egyptian, or a Saudi, even a Syrian or an Iraqi – they would probably agree. All of the US moves in our region in recent years have failed, from Egypt to Iran to Syria to Yemen. But you didn’t hear anything about that from Kerry.”