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Thursday, May 06, 2004

KUDOS to Rick Richman!

He's watching Kerry like a hawk :/

Mazal tov to the Jewish Press for carrying Rick's investigative reporting as a Page One Feature. Here's a taste:
So on December 3, 2003, when Kerry went before the most prestigious foreign policy forum in the United States, to make a major foreign policy address, and

* listed the Israel-Palestinian conflict as an example of a Bush foreign policy gone "radically wrong,"

* suggested that the "end game is the focus, not the steps leading up to it,"

* proposed to appoint a "presidential ambassador" to the peace process "in the first days of a Kerry administration,"

* named Jimmy Carter as a prospective envoy, and

* announced he had already talked to Carter about it,

Kerry was not simply "floating a name." He was endorsing a major shift in U.S. relations with Israel far beyond anything Howard "Even-Handed" Dean had suggested.

But that was then, right? Later, he disavowed Carter as a prospective envoy, and on "Meet the Press" said he "completely" supports the Bush position on Israel. The nuanced Senator Kerry had changed his position - right?

In a word, no.

After Kerry gave Russert his non-answer about Carter ("I think that what I was trying to talk about, Tim, was a kind of potential . . ."), Russert followed up:
Russert: Why do you think Carter and Baker are not acceptable?

Kerry: Well, that's not important. What's important is how to resolve the crisis, how do you move forward. I believe there's a way to move forward, I'm convinced of that. [In other words: Why did you suggest Carter and then reject him? None of your business, Tim.]

Now, I think what the president did in the last few days is to recognize a reality that even President Clinton came to. If you're going to have a Jewish state, and that is what we are committed to do and that is what Israel is, you cannot have a right of return that's open-ended or something. You just can't do it. It's always been a non-starter. I personally said that at a speech I gave to the Arab community in New York at the World Economic Forum. I've said that.
It would be interesting to know what Kerry meant by "even" President Clinton. It might also be interesting to see a copy of Kerry's World Economic Forum speech, to see exactly what he "personally said" to the Arab community.

That speech is not on Kerry’s campaign website nor on his senate office website, and the summary of it on the World Economic Forum website does not mention any Kerry discussion of the “right of return.” Repeated e-mails to Kerry’s campaign over the past two weeks have not produced a copy.

Readers will find that Taba is an important reference in understanding Kerry's position(s). Rick describes it thus:
Taba was a set of marathon talks between Israeli and Palestinian delegations at the Egyptian resort of Taba between January 22 and January 28, 2001, conducted by Israel under fire, during the fourth month of the war brought by Arafat after he rejected a state in substantially all of the West Bank and Gaza, with a capital in East Jerusalem:

"The Barak government continued to offer concessions to the Palestinians, but neither the Israeli public nor the Knesset supported these positions. Ariel Sharon's landslide victory was only days away on February 6, 2001. . . . Barak was hoping for some breakthrough that would bolster his election chances in the few weeks remaining of his term as Prime Minister." -- PalestineFacts.org.

One of the desperate concessions Barak offered the Palestinians that fateful week was a limited right of return.

Taba. Did you know that Taba was a resort built by Israel in what had been a barren desert near Eilat? The Jewish state relinquished Taba in 1988, as part of the withdrawal from Sinai called for in the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Menachem Begin agreed to return 91% of the territory won by Israel during the Six Day War - in exchange for Egypt's promise of peace.

Israel won additional aid from the U.S. for this withdrawal, but gave up much of its strategic depth in the Sinai, and relinquished 1,000 miles of roadways it had built, as well as homes, factories, hotels, health facilities and agricultural villages. Because Egypt insisted that The Jews Move, 7,000 Israelis were expelled from the homes and business they had spent years building in the desert.
During the Camp David negotiations with Egypt, all of the issues had been resolved, but one remained, Sadat's insistence that all settlements in the Sinai be removed. Begin didn't want to remove them, but he called Ariel Sharon for advice. Sharon said that in the interest of peace, the settlements should be dismantled. Israel did just that in 1982, providing compensation to residents for the loss of their homes, farms and businesses that ranged from $100,000 to $500,000 (Jerusalem Post, January 8, 2004). Nevertheless, a small group of settlers in the town of Yamit refused to leave and Sharon had the army literally drag them out of their homes. . . . (from the Jewish Virtual Library)

We need to know the moral fiber, or lack thereof, of our presidential candidates. This election may be one of The Most Important Ever, and we should vote as if our lives depend on it. Rick Richman does us a great service in ferreting out what Kerry has said, and what he might have meant.

Read his piece in its entirety, and don't miss the editorial in the same issue: Pay Attention To What John Kerry Is Saying . . . especially to the ADL about his administration "being more engaged as an honest broker."