What, exactly, is John Kerry doing in Jerusalem, time after time in recent months? One cannot escape the impression that he is avoiding the real work in the Middle East: Ending the bloodshed in Syria.
The greatest disruption to a peaceful daily life in the holy city has been . . . snow. Not war. As positive as a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreemeent would be, it’s not first priority now. There is very little terorism in Jerusalem, in all of Israel and in the Palestinian areas since the end of the second intifada in 2005.
Not so, Syria.
There, a civil war rages.
There, some eight million people are disrupted.
There, 100,000 people or so (no one knows for sure) have been killed.
There, Kerry does nothing.
Nothing, that is, except make speeches.
President Obama laid down a “red line” — his words — that would call for US intervention. Syria crossed the red line. The US affirmed this: Syria used weapons of mass destruction. The US did nothing to punish Assad. Not surprisingly, the killing has continued. Refugees multiply. Suffering expands. Lack of food, of shelter, not to mention normal living, escalates. And John Kerry? He’s running to Jerusalem. It is a worthy effort intrinsically, a terrible dereliction of duty contextually.
There was a time not terribly long ago when the suffering of human beings registered on American foreign policy. When Soviet Jews suffered in the Soviet Union, the US Congress and many administrations, Democrat and Republican, stepped up. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, the US clipped his wings. When the Balkans imploded, the US responded. When apartheid reigned in South Africa, the US joined other countries in pressuring South Africa, via sanctions, to change.
No doubt, US foreign policy has also failed to respond — most notably, in the Rwandan genocide in 1994 — or has responded ineffectively, as in Iraq, 2003-2011. These failures set the stage for and reinforced an old American isolationist tendency. Human rights in China? Ignored. Massive killings in Syria? Condemned — verbally. Words, not action.
Copyright © 2013 by the Intermountain Jewish News