John Kerry’s State Department Exit Memo to Obama is more like a tome, long and wordy enough to skim and not read. Somewhere, near the end Kerry tells his boss:
On Israeli-Palestinian peace, we have remained committed to realizing the vision of a two-state solution: a secure, democratic Jewish state of Israel living side-by-side with an independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian state. During my time in office, we worked very hard to restart negotiations between the two sides to see if progress was indeed possible. Unfortunately, the parties were not willing to make the difficult choices necessary to move forward with the negotiations. Since then, we have been calling on the parties to demonstrate with policies and actions a genuine commitment to the two-state solution and to create the conditions for the resumption of successful negotiations. I sincerely hope for the future of both Israelis and Palestinians alike that their leaders will make the difficult choices necessary to advance the prospects for peace…
The United States is more secure, more respected, and more engaged in the world than we were when President Obama took office eight years ago. We have brought the international community together to confront the most serious challenges we face and to seize the most significant opportunities that will shape our future.
Countless opinion pieces have been written after Kerry’s droned-on farewell remarks, one of the most recent from Vivian Bercovici. No longer official representative of Canada to Israel, she can, and does, a great job summing up Obama’s role…Fake news or spin?
Kerry’s parting speech took over an hour. As usual, what was really happening, the reality on the Jerusalem streets, was far from the popular narrative. During that hour, I walked by,
the YMCA, where a few days after Christmas, the tree was up and carolers from all over the world who had come for the holidays were singing inside.
Walk a few minutes,
and you could see the separation fence on the ridge of the horizon, and faintly, the red mountains of Jordan behind. After a rain last week, when the clouds had lifted, the mountains were clearer, and also the Dead Sea was visible.
Nearby, in the Yemin Moshe parking lot, are these two post boxes; still in use they are reminders of Jerusalem under the British Mandate.
Today, Yemin Moshe streets are picture perfect. From 1948-1967, this neighborhood was inhabited by the poorest of poor, as Jordanian snipers liked to take pot shots across No Man’s Land.
Walking a short distance, I arrived at Mamilla Mall. From 1948-1969, it was a no-go zone for Jews. Now upscale and popular, a shopping and eating area busy with locals and thousands of tourists daily.
Street musicians can be heard performing in various locations, day and night.
Remember, Kerry spoke on the fifth night of Hanukkah. Backing up Obama. Israel should go back to 67 lines. Get shot in Yemin Moshe? Mamilla Mall no-go again?
Thousands attended candle lighting at the Western Wall. How ironic on a holiday remembering the rededication of the Jewish Temple, to support those who said it never existed.
Walking back through the streets of Old City, the Rova, the Jewish Quarter, where Jews lived for thousands of years, except those years, 1948-1967, when Jordan occupied, emptied and destroyed their homes and synagogues, the streets were lined with Hanukkah lights.
Thousands were out walking these streets, enjoying the light and not listening to Kerry.
These streets are to be denied again according to UNSC resolution 2334.
At the end of the hour, as I arrived at Jaffa Gate, Kerry spoke of Israel, Jewish and democratic. Out of hundreds of photos, more those of Christmas trees, Christmas signs,
this one stands out. A Muslim family, mother in hijab, taking photos near Jaffa Gate. The light and sound projection for Hanukkah in the background. And the big deal? No one else stopped to look, or notice, or pay attention to them, but me.
Then, there was the man with the large Israeli flag. He comes around events often. Someone did ask me about that.
Maybe Kerry and Obama, now as they go out of office, should come and see what is really happening here in Jerusalem, Israel?