Is John Kerry Wasting Time With Quixotic Middle East Peace Push?

Little To Show for 100K Miles of Frantic Flying — So Far

Lone Ranger: Is John Kerry headed for failure in the Middle East?
getty images
Lone Ranger: Is John Kerry headed for failure in the Middle East?

By Reuters

Published June 02, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Four months into his term, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is trying, simultaneously, to end two of the world’s most intractable conflicts: the Syrian civil war and the struggle between Israel and the Palestinians.

The two issues, according to an aide, have consumed the vast majority of Kerry’s time and energy - he has already flown more than 100,000 miles to 23 countries, including four trips to Israel - since he took office Feb. 1.

What is unclear, however, is whether all the movement will lead to progress, or whether it will go down as the quixotic, if laudable, efforts of an enthusiastic new secretary of state.

Success, or even progress, could increase Kerry’s clout with foreign interlocutors and at the White House. Failure could tarnish his early months and, in the case of Israeli-Palestinian peace, add his name to a long list of chief U.S. diplomats who have tried and then moved on to other challenges.

Kerry, a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is well-known in Washington and the corridors of power in foreign capitals, even if he may lack the global star-power of his predecessor, Hillary Clinton.

But what he is attempting is arguably more ambitious than where Clinton - another failed presidential candidate turned chief diplomat - was at the same stage four months into her tenure in the job.

Clinton kept some distance from the Israeli-Palestinian issue, visiting Israel just five times in four years in office and delegating day-to-day work to special envoy George Mitchell.

Unlike Clinton though, Kerry is not hamstrung by trying to preserve an ability to run for president again and so perhaps has greater latitude to press Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians without fear of alienating Jewish American voters.

The next several weeks may provide clues on whether Kerry’s efforts in Arab-Israeli peace-making and in trying to find a diplomatic solution to the more than two years of violence in Syria will bear fruit.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.