First there is the return of John Kerry, the former Obama Secretary of State associated with the 2013-14 Israeli-Palestinian ‘peace talks’ that went nowhere, and also with the Iran nuclear deal. Kerry’s core belief is the failed one that the Palestinians must have a veto on any rapprochement between Israel and the wider Arab world.
Only weeks before the present round of peace agreements between Gulf states and Israel were announced, Kerry was insisting with some arrogance that such moves were ‘impossible’. Still, Kerry is slated to be the President’s climate adviser, so perhaps glaciers, bush fires and polar bears will keep his mind off the Middle East.
Then there is Anthony Blinken, the likely new Secretary of State highly regarded in centrist Democratic Party circles. Blinken played an important role in negotiating the JCPoA, the Iran nuclear deal that unfroze over $1 billion in Iranian overseas assets in return for weak curbs on Iran’s uranium enrichment, and wants to breathe new life into the deal.
Although Blinken is Jewish, this policy would run directly counter to the strong advice of the leaderships of Israel and Saudi Arabia. The counter-criticism is that President Trump’s withdrawal from JCPoA contributed to the fact that Iran’s current stockpile of low-enriched uranium is now 12 times what it was previously. We will have to wait and see.
Biden’s choice for deputy director of legislative affairs is Reema Dodin, born in the US to Palestinian-Jordanian parents. Dodin is on record from 2002 as saying that suicide bombings were the ‘last resort of a desperate people’. (This at the height of a terror campaign that murdered over 1,100 Israeli citizens in the second intifada, and only two years after Yasser Arafat had rejected Israel’s Camp David offer of a Palestinian state on more than 90 per cent of Judea & Samaria.)
Ms. Dodin was a mere student at the time of the statement and may have modified her views. But recent reports indicate that she keeps in close touch with radical Islamic and anti-Israel elements in the US.
Most worrying of all is the latest appointee, incoming deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who has been described by the Zionist Organisation of America as a ‘notorious Israelophobe’ and a ‘radical cancel-culture promoter who seeks to ostracise pro-Israel groups’. She campaigned successfully for all Democratic Party candidates to boycott the 2020 national convention of AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and has propagated the blood libel that Israel’s defence of its citizens from Hamas gangs trying to breach the Gaza security fence in 2018 may been a ‘war crime’.
These appointments are not all equally worrying, but they all indicate a trend in one direction only with regard to Biden’s proposed cabinet. Supporters of the Jewish state will have to hope for the best while expecting the worst.
By Dermot Meleady