Is it possible that the many accomplishments and economic prosperity of Israel is preventing the peace process from moving ahead in the Middle East? That seems to be what our Secretary of State thinks.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East on May 26, 2013. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Before last week's meetings with Israel's leadership, Secretary Kerry made the following statement to reporters (via the official State Department transcript):
"I think there is an opportunity [for peace], but for many reasons it's not on the tips of everyone's tongue. People in Israel aren't waking up every day and wondering if tomorrow there will be peace because there is a sense of security and a sense of accomplishment and of prosperity."
Kerry's comments were delivered three days before his appearance at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East last Saturday. Almost immediately after making that statement, responses were posted online. The Jewish Press opined:
So, Secretary Kerry thinks it would be better for Israel to approach negotiations from a position of precarious poverty? Does he think Israel's quest for legitimacy and security in an unstable, over-armed and hostile region would be better received if Israel were a needy, insecure supplicant to Palestinian and Arab interests? Or that the Palestinians would have pity on an unnerved and anxious Israel struggling with a bankrupt, aid-dependent economy?
The day after meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas, Kerry again addressed the press and curiously made mention of the Palestinian's "priority concern" that includes becoming a "prosperous state":
Palestinians have a priority concern with respect to knowing that they can secure an independent, sovereign, and prosperous state with clear lines as defined previously by them and others along the 1967 lines with swaps and recognizing changes that have taken place on the ground, as President Obama stated in his vision in 2011.
Concerning Kerry's statement that peace is not a priority for Israel because "there is a sense of security" in that country, many Israeli's point to their country's need to have an "Iron Dome" system to protect its people from the regular missile attacks. And then there is Iran's nuclear program and President Ahmadinejad's regular promises to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.
It's easy to see that why people in Israel would be confused by Secretary of State Kerry's statements. He appears to be saying that Palestinians need to be independent and prosperous, while Israel's prosperity is seen as something that's blocking the peace process.
For the record, Israel's economy is strong. The unemployment rate for Israel sits around 6.5% -- and has been lower than America's unemployment rate for years.
One of the topics Israelis are quite proud of is the spirit of innovation among the people and companies in Israel. By all accounts, the groundbreaking products developed in Israel make life better for many people all over the world.
Israel regularly posts "Created In Israel" videos showing some of the inventions and how these creations have become part of our lives, without us being aware of where they were birthed.
Do you agree with Secretary of State Kerry? Would a less prosperous Israel be helpful in making the Middle East peace process more likely?