The one thing everyone in Israel seems to agree on: John Kerry blew it

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to members of the media from the State Department Monday about his recent efforts in the Middle East to secure a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas. (Associated Press)

Anyone who has made even a passing glance at the Israeli media in the past few days will have noticed the incredible chorus of criticism being directed at John Kerry right now. The secretary of state has been lambasted by all sides for his apparent failure in attempts to negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

Here's a small selection of the nasty things being said.

On Monday, Israel HaYom, a Sheldon Adelson-owned free daily, published the following from Prof. Ron Breiman on its English-language Web site.

Like a blind person groping for the ladder to climb down from the roof but instead falling down the chimney, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the government he represents have not missed an opportunity to step in all the Middle Eastern potholes along their way. Kerry is imbued with good will, but this is not enough. Kerry and U.S. President Barack Obama suffer from a misunderstanding of reality in our region, as well as in other parts of the world.

At Israel's leading liberal newspaper, Haaretz, Ari Shavit argued that Kerry had been reckless and suggested that any future Israeli ground operation should be named "Operation John Kerry":

The Obama administration proved once again that it is the best friend of its enemies, and the biggest enemy of its friends. The man of peace from Massachusetts intercepted with his own hands the reasonable cease-fire that was within reach, and pushed both the Palestinians and Israelis toward an escalation that most of them did not want.

That post came not long Shavit's colleague Barak Ravid published his take on Kerry's cease-fire plan, titled simply "What was he thinking?" Ravid tried to be kind to Kerry, but couldn't hide his anger at the article's end:

If Kerry did anything on Friday it was to thwart the possibility of reaching a cease-fire in Gaza. Instead of promoting a cease-fire, Kerry pushed it away. If this failed diplomatic attempt leads Israel to escalate its operation in Gaza, the American secretary of state will be one of those responsible for every additional drop of blood that is spilled.

On Sunday, Ynetnews  the English-language Israeli Web site of Israel's most-read newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, published an article titled "Obama's wars on Israel." The author, Guy Bechor, also singled Kerry out:

This isn't the first time Kerry is caught smiling at Israel while inciting against it behind the scenes. But not just towards Israel. This is also a betrayal of the moderate axis of the Middle East – Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia – as well as encouraging and rewarding jihadist terror, and a betrayal of all the real American values.

At the Times of Israel, a Web site that boasts of its independent politics, analyst Avi Issacharoff wondered if Kerry was "merely naive," or if the United States was now aligning itself with the Muslim Brotherhood. He pulled a dummy in the article's lede before launching into a criticism of Kerry:

Despite the tendency to criticize US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts, credit should be given where credit is due. Over the weekend, Kerry did manage to facilitate something in the Middle East: unparalleled unanimity.

Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan were all in agreement that Kerry’s efforts were undermining the attempt to bring about a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas as quickly as possible. Moreover, Kerry’s framework and the ideas he presented led to an extraordinary phone call taking place between a senior Palestinian Authority official and an Israeli counterpart, during which the two mocked the senior diplomat’s naivete and his failure to understand the regional reality.

The Jerusalem Post's Herb Keinon noted that Kerry's ability to unite Israelis was really what was quite remarkable:

It takes a certain artistry to irritate and annoy not only the Israeli left and the Israeli right at the same time, but also both Jerusalem and Ramallah.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has found that artistry.

As Keinon noted, there were even reports that the Palestinian Authority had become exasperated with Kerry. An unnamed official was quoted in the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper as saying that the PA leadership was angry with Kerry's attempt to “tamper with Palestinian blood and make it hostage to regional rivalries.”

It all became so much that on Monday, the Obama administration was forced to push back against what it said was a "misinformation campaign” against Kerry. “It’s simply not the way partners and allies treat each other,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. Israel's ambassador to the United States spoke out too. “The criticism of Secretary Kerry for his good faith efforts to advance a sustainable cease-fire is unwarranted," Ron Dermer said Monday. But given that so many of the articles in the Israeli media mentioned officials speaking off the record, his attempt to distance the government may fall flat.

In response to a question at the White House briefing about criticism Secretary of State John Kerry has faced in recent days, Deputy National Security Adviser Antony Blinken said whoever had been leaking information was purposely leaking misinformation "or was just misinformed." (Associated Press)
Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University.
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Adam Taylor · July 28