Saturday, September 14, 2013

14-Sep-13: Memo to Secretary of State Kerry: Your staff need some urgent guidance

Secretary Kerry speaks to the media about a deal
with Russia on Syria, this past Thursday
[Image Source: Reuters/Larry Downing]
Dear Secretary Kerry:

Reuters informed us yesterday ["Kerry to travel to Israel and meet Israeli PM Netanyahu"] that you will be visiting our home town in the coming 24 hours.

This is good for three reasons, at least.

First, it gives you an opportunity to finally respond to an open letter which was sent to you on August 13, 2013, by a group called Bereaved Families for Peace and Justice. It respectfully asks you for an urgent meeting for reasons that are stated in the letter. (We are two of the signatories to that letter.) In case this does not ring any bells, we suggest one of your staff people might review its contents [here] and remind you of what we and a dozen other families wrote there.

Unfortunately your office has not yet responded, though your spokesperson, Marie Harf, did say acknowledge in a media briefing the day we sent it that it had been received [we refer here to what else she said].

Your diligent and thoughtful ambassador in Tel Aviv met with four of us some weeks ago in the US embassy, and explained that for now that was as much as we could expect from the State Department. Now that you are back in Israel, it seems to us that this would be a good time to schedule a short face-to-face conversation.

Why the urgency? That has to do with the second good reason.

Second: Several uncontradicted news reports in the past week, emanating from the Arab side, say that a second tranche (out of a total of four) of convicted Palestinian Arabs, all of them found guilty of murder and assorted other acts of terrorism, are going to be set free by our government six weeks from now. We reported on the background to this in two recent blog posts. First: "1-Sep-13: Is a second round (of four) of convicted Palestinian Arab terrorists, most of them murderers, about to be set free?" And then "8-Sep-13: More convicted Palestinian Arab murderers are headed for freedom and role-model careers". 

These prisoner releases are a mistake on multiple levels
Americans have been among the victims of these terrorists. The State Department would surely want to understand this better so that it can stop the process, right? We want to help. 

Third: Most of the Israelis and Americans whom we have asked about this in the past month have been surprised - even astonished - to know that your office has an unexpected view of how to characterize the slayers of elderly Holocaust survivors and murderers of American citizens who were released in the first of those tranches on August 13, 2013. That was the day an American journalist asked Marie Harf, the deputy spokesperson in the State Department, this straight-forward question:
Do you have any thoughts or position on whether these people who are going to be released [today] are political prisoners or are they terrorists?
Speaking as the designated State Department official spokesperson that day, in a formal press briefing, she said: 
I do not have a position on that.
We hope you find this hard to believe. We certainly did. Would it make sense for someone in your entourage to check out this video of the exchange between them? Despite our repeated and polite enquiries during this past month, it appears to us that no one in the US administration is willing to admit that they have taken a position on this serious matter - at any rate, no one who was willing to speak to us, or for the record. 

Meanwhile, those first 26 unrepentant terrorists walked free. Exactly as we and others feared, they walked straight into a series of official Mahmoud Abbas-hosted PA receptions where they were despicably feted as heroes.

We would very much like to discuss this with you as well, if you have some time tomorrow. Please have someone email us, and we will do our best to fit in with your tight agenda.

For what it's worth, the Bereaved Families for Peace and Justice group asked our own government here in Jerusalem for a meeting on this same vexing matter of letting loose the unrepentant convicted killers. So far, we have the same success rate in getting a response from them as we have from Washington. 

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