During the week before the crucial Pennsylvania primary, Sen. Barack Obama announced the appointment of veteran State Department policy maker Daniel Kurtzer, former American Ambassador to Egypt (1997-2001) and Israel (2001-2005) as a key foreign policy adviser to the presidential candidate.
Mr. Kurtzer has devoted more than 30 years of his professional career to pressuring Israel to accepting the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as a peace partner, despite the fact that the PLO remains a willing agent of the Arab League, which spawned the PLO back in 1964 for the express purpose of joining the Arab League’s war to replace the Jewish state with a “nation state of all of its residents.”
Mr. Kurtzer’s doctoral dissertation (Columbia University, 1976), made the wild claim that Israel’s counter-terror actions were the “catalysts to interstate violence” and blamed Israel for “the radicalization of the Palestinians to violence” (p. 253).
Yitzhak Shamir, who served as prime minister of Israel for most of the period from 1983 to 1992, told a prominent American Zionist leader that “Kurtzer frequently pressured Israel to make one-sided concessions to the Arabs; he constantly blamed Israel for the absence of Mideast peace and paid little or no attention to the fact that the Palestinians were carrying out terrorist attacks and openly calling for the destruction of Israel.”
Mr. Kurtzer, a speechwriter for former Secretary of State James Baker, has never been a popular figure in Israel. Indeed, Mr. Shamir went so far as to refer to Mr. Kurtzer and two colleagues as “Baker’s little Jews.”
When Mr. Kurtzer was ambassador to Israel, he simply would not answer any questions about the policy of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which nurtured an Islamic Shariah-based constitution for a future Palestinian State (with no juridical status for Judaism or for Christianity) with funds that USAID had provided for the purpose of creating a democratic Palestinian constitution.
This writer obtained the ratified Arabic version of the Palestinian state constitution from the Vatican representative in Jerusalem and obtained verification as to its authenticity from Nabil Shaath, the PA foreign minister who chaired the committee that authored the constitution.
In other words, a senior Catholic official warned about the radical Islamic nature of a U.S.-funded Palestinian state constitution, while a Jewish American ambassador to Israel expressed no concern about it whatsoever.
Mr. Kurtzer also oversaw one-sided human rights reports against Israel during his assignment in Israel. A case in point was the U.S. human rights report from Israel for 2003.
The report states that in 2003 terrorist attacks resulted in about 213 Israeli deaths and about 900 injuries. It alludes to the state of alert with which Israel functions.
Yet the enormity of terror attacks that Israel contended with in 2003 was downplayed by the lack of details enumerated in that report.
There was not a name of human face portrayed of Israeli victims in this report. There is no specific mention, for example, of the fact that children were bombed into non-existence when returning from prayers at the Western Wall, nor of the fact that a recently released PLO prisoner had murdered David Applebaum, the much-loved and much-mourned head of emergency services at Sha’arei Tzedek Hospital, and his daughter the evening before her wedding.
What was missing from the human rights report about Israel that were written during Mr. Kurtzer’s four-year assignment to Israel was any mention of the need for Israel to pursue terrorists where they hide in the areas under the control of the PA, to dismantle weapons factories, to confiscate weapons caches and to secure information that will prevent attacks. What was lacking in Mr. Kurtzer’s reports were the well documented reports that PLO gunmen frequently opt to position themselves behind civilians when there is a gun battle so as to put the civilians at risk.
Instead, the 2004 U.S. human rights report from Israel mentioned that “members of the [Israeli] security forces committed serious human rights abuses in the occupied territories and against Palestinian detainees.”
On the Palestinian side, that same human rights report deals in considerable detail with Israel’s alleged human rights abuses, down to cataloguing such matters as the destruction of three hospital beds by Israeli soldiers in Nablus. Can we call the “destruction of three hospital beds” a human rights abuse?
In the course of this catalogue of alleged abuses, names of specific Palestinians who were aggrieved were mentioned. The fact that Palestinian names were included, while no Israeli casualties were mentioned by name, showed a tendency to give the human face only to the Palestinians who suffer.
When Mr. Kurtzer was asked why there was a policy of putting a human face on Palestinian Arabs who were killed in the crossfire while no names of Jewish victims were mentioned, he would not call back with an explanation.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Ministry of Education confirmed that it had provided the U.S. ambassador with a multi-colored brochure with names, pictures and short biographies of each Israeli child who had been murdered in cold blood. How instructive that such “details” did not make it into the report released by the Department of State.
So there you have it: an Obama foreign policy adviser with a tendentious and hostile view of the Jewish state, even if this adviser happens to be Jewish.
David Bedein is Middle East correspondent for The Bulletin.
©The Bulletin 2008