Israeli government officials are fuming over remarks made by Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday which connected the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict to waves of international recruits flocking to the terrorist group ISIS.
"As I went around and met with people in the course of our discussions about the ISIL coalition," Kerry said, "the truth is we – there wasn't a leader I met with in the region who didn't raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation that they felt – and I see a lot of heads nodding – they had to respond to."
In a Facebook post written in Hebrew, Israeli Communications Minister Gilad Erdan wrote, "I actually respect Kerry and his efforts, but every time he breaks new records of showing a lack of understanding of our region and the essence of the conflict in the Middle East I have trouble respecting what he says."
Naftali Bennett, the Israeli economy minister, blasted Kerry for linking ISIS, which seeks an Islamic caliphate in Syria, Iraq and beyond, to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying it "gives a boost to global terrorism."
"It turns out that even when a British Muslim beheads a British Christian, there will always be those who blame the Jews," Bennett said, alluding to the beheading earlier this month of British aid worker Alan Henning. The killer, believed to be the same man who beheaded American journalists James Foley and Steven Satloff, speaks with a British accent.
Kerry's statement, made at a State Department reception celebrating the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, is a bit of a contradiction to President Obama's statement during a speech to the United Nations last month. While also calling for peace talks to resume, Obama acknowledged that "the situation in Iraq and Syria and Libya should cure anybody of the illusion that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the main source of problems in the region."
And there's another obvious point Kerry doesn't seem to understand. The radical Islamists in ISIS, like radical Islamists in Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hizballah and others, absolutely reject any peaceful settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. It is codified in their founding charters and repeated statements. Their only acceptable outcome is Israel's destruction. Given that, it's difficult to understand how a peaceful resolution guaranteeing and Jewish homeland in Israel and a Palestinian state, would do anything but ignite new fury and spike the number of recruits seeking to join the jihad.