David Gergen's Displeasure with Honest and Correct Israeli Media
This is for the record:
COOPER: Secretary of State John Kerry's work to broker a ceasefire in the Middle East has been met with strong criticism from the Israeli public where support for the war tops 85 percent in one recent poll. Critics include some columnist who say that Secretary Kerry's effort have been doing more harm than good.
Joining me now are CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen and Ari Shavit, Columnist for Haaretz newspaper and author of the new book "My Promise Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel."
Ari, thanks very much for being with us. I want to start by reading part of a recent column you wrote on Secretary Kerry. You said and I quote, "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ruined everything." And then you went on to say, "The Obama Administration proved once again that it is the best friend of its enemies, and the biggest enemy of it are friends. The man of peace from Massachusetts intercepted with his own hands the reasonable cease-fire that was within reach, and pushed both the Palestinian and the Israeli's toward an escalation that most of them did not want."
What exactly did Secretary Kerry do that in your opinion basically pushed the escalation?
ARI SHAVIT, COLUMNIST, HAARETZ: Anderson, let me start by saying with this terrible evening, a terrible day that we had. I'm a proud Israeli and I think Israel is right to defend itself. But I am horrified by the pictures that we've seen this evening. And my heart, my heart goes out to the innocent victims in Gaza and to so many Israelis or victims of this terrible tragedy.
Now, this has to do with what you asked me about. I belong to those Israelis or in the minority who do not want to see an escalation and do not want to see the Israeli army, God forbid, conquering Gaza. It's a difficult battle we have back home because 85 percent of Israelis want to move on. The right wing ministers are very aggressive. And it's a great battle to prevent further escalation that would lead to total catastrophe.
So, it is within this context that the moderate Israelis are looking for American leadership. And I think the few that these Israelis have is that there is a misreading of the map. The only way to stop this terrible carnage that we see today is to have assertive diplomacy building the alliance of the moderates that will lead to some sort of solution. The alliance of the moderates is the moderate Arabs mainly Egypt but also Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Gulf countries and the moderate Palestinians lead by Mr. Abbas in Israel.
COOPER: And so you see John Kerry basically as having at one point though he supported the Egyptian process basically the next that within 24-hour period flipped over supporting a process that's supported by Turkey and cut it out? SHAVIT: Exactly. The tragedy and never mind the details. The tragedy, the specific tragedy, within the greater tragedy was that it was perceived. Never mind the details. It was perceived as if he is not giving the Egyptian option. This is not an Israeli but the Egyptian option enough support. I believe that if America will lead this coalition of moderates, this is the only way to end this terrible tragedy now and actually to have a kind of political solution that will give hope for the people of Gaza by giving them much more life and the (inaudible) prosperity while demilitarizing Gaza.
The only way to do it to prevent this horrible violence is this assertive diplomacy and a political, economic alliance between these ...
COOPER: I'm sorry. You don't believe John Kerry is giving that assertive alliance. I do want to bring in David Gergen.
David, what about that? Is that a fair assessment? And certainly it is the perception among many Israelis that John Kerry has done more harm than good here.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there is a perception among many Israelis and, you know, it's a perception that is shared among some American columnist on this that Kerry purposely put on the table. The most recent one favored Hamas too much. And Ari's argument is that it led to the collapse of the middle and the extremist came to power and grew in power on both sides both in Gaza and Israel. And I respect Ari. His book here has got great reception in America.
But what is -- I'm sorry, what I can't understand, Anderson, and even here with Ari. Ari basically has wrote in his column, if there is more offensive, there is more blood, its going to be -- we should blame it on John Kerry. And A, I don't think that's fair. But B, I don't understand why Israelis are targeting John Kerry and brutalizing him the way they are from left and right with the government part of this. And in fact, they're making it so personal and making it almost impossible for America to play a leading role among moderates.
You know, America has been Israel's best friend. We stand up for Israel. Again, we just learned tonight, a moment ago, Anderson, in your show that Israel is asking us to resupply ammunition. Why then go after your best friend and humiliate him and brutalize him in the way he's being treated in the Israeli press and to a degree by the government?
COOPER: Ari, what about that?
SHAVIT: So, first of all, let me say where I stand. I'm the greatest supporter of that great alliance between your great democracy and our frontier democracy. I am deeply grateful for everything America has done for my country. And by way, I am sometimes more pro-American than many of my American friends. I think America saved the world in the second half and in the -- true, to 20th century. And I really pray that the America will go on leading the world into 21st century.
So, I'm grateful. I respect. I admire America. And by the way, I share totally Secretary Kerry's vision, values, ideals to hope for two-state solution. We are totally on the same page.
I think that what happens is that in times of crises when you see the catastrophes eminent and you try to prevent what we've seen now which is going on, which is so horrific throughout the country. You really try to -- in these sense, it's a cry of despair. So many moderate Arabs and moderate Israelis are actually want a new way that will turn the wish to end the violence into a realistic, assertive diplomacy that will be realistic.
So, if anyone is offended, I really understand it and I'm deeply sorry for that. That's not the idea. I really think that they align first of all as Israelis, America is saving us, America is supporting us, America created -- supported, I am done with this saving but America, there's no other country in the world where America is so admired and loved. This is really a debate within a family and within people and the countries and nations that I think loved each other very much.
COOPER: David, do you think ...
SHAVIT: I think that we as Israelis have the duty to be grateful. I hope that some Americans will listen to what their friends, their closest friends, in the Middle East had been saying to them for sometime.
COOPER: David, do you think it's gotten so personal that at this point John Kerry can no longer be a mediator here?
GERGEN: I worry about that. I think there is going to come a time, I hope sooner rather than later when we actually get a cease-fire. And at that point, it's going to be very important for United States to be at the table to help lead those negotiations and the man the president's going to want there is John Kerry. And if he's seen as such a lawsome (sic) figure and he's been so brutalized, I think it may -- I think it makes his job a lot harder. And I think to go to Ari's point which I support the general point that what we want to do is encourage bridges along the moderates and strengthen the moderates on both sides.
I think that's absolutely right. I don't think that the way he's been brutalized as a way to get there.
COOPER: Unfortunately, we ran out of time on this but Ari Shavit, I appreciate you being on. We would like to have you on again. You're a good voice to have and David Gergen as well. Thank you both very much.
GERGEN: Thank you.
SHAVIT: Thank you.
David Gergen asks: "Why then go after your best friend and humiliate him and brutalize him in the way he's being treated in the Israeli press and to a degree by the government?"
And one wonders how David Gergen is going to explicate the meaning of the words Israel's best friend has been speaking and how exactly are Israelis supposed to embrace and trust such a very good friend, who sounds so much like an enemy:
"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."