Greater Men Have Tried

On Open Letter to John Kerry

Dear Secretary of State John Kerry:

Because of my respect for the United States, I will attempt to afford you the honor you think you so richly deserve. It’s hard to speak to you with anything but anger, hard to feel the need, again, to start from the beginning because you clearly choose to ignore history in your quest for glory. It is a quest destined to fail but its outcome, even, or more accurately especially, in failure, will hurt Israel.

Greater men than you have tried to make, to force, peace on the Middle East. I promise you, you will fail too. You will fail because you are not addressing the root cause of the problem. You, like so many before you, take the easy way out. Blame Israel. It is so easy to do, and so stupid.

I could speak to you of history – a history longer and greater than you can imagine. I could speak to you of injustices – yes, our land is filled with the graves of those murdered for the unjust reason that they lived here, or traveled abroad, or ate in the wrong restaurant, or took the wrong bus.

I could speak to you of justice – of a population exchange similar to those that have taken place through out history as nations settle between war and peace. They left their lands to go there, most voluntarily so that their invading brothers would have a clear path as they pushed the Jews into the sea. And our people, who left their homes and possessions in Arab lands, most forced, not voluntarily, and came here.

We fed our brothers, clothed them, gave them homes. And most importantly, we loved them and gave them the most precious of gifts – a future, a present, as integral parts of the land and people of this country. My neighbor, the family across the street – they live in the same houses that I do, drive the same cars, attend the same schools. He is an engineer; he is a judge in the courts. She is a nurse; she is a lawyer. All my neighbors, though their grandparents came here with nothing.

And at the same time, across many borders, the Arabs put their “brothers” in refugee camps, all but starved them. They raised them to be embittered – not at those who kept them in squalor, but those they had hoped to defeat. They blame us and you are naive enough to blame us as well?

They chose war, John Kerry, while we chose compromise. And you would blame us for this horrible chain of the decades? They invaded – five Arab nations, in 1949. They attacked. Out of sheer desperation, we won enough of our land to give us a measure of security…it lasted only 7 years, until they attacked again. But oh what we did in those 7 years. We welcomed our refugees from Europe, from Arab lands. We built them tent cities and turned them into real cities. We conquered swamp land and made it habitable and we raised our children to dream that someday there would be peace. We created universities and schools and parks.

But the Arabs would have none of it. In 1948, in 1956, again in 1967 and again in 1973 and again and again, almost daily, we fight off their attempts to do in 2014 what they failed to do in 1948. They have not learned and amazingly enough, John Kerry, neither have you.

We have built and evacuated whole communities; we have withdrawn from land in exchange for nothing but the hope that we could appease the “unappeasable.” We have flown around the world to help others – from earthquakes, tsunamis, devastating storms, famine and more.

We have allowed the Arabs – yes, allowed them, to fire tens of thousands of missiles at our cities and we know they have more than 170,000 more rockets and missiles ready to try again. At any time and with no notice whatsoever, we have the power to flatten Gaza into the world’s largest, flattest parking lot. And each time they attack, we think of it and know we can’t do it, won’t do it. And you would blame us for the failure to make peace?

When we attempt to stop them, to push back their military capabilities, just a bit, we aim for the rocket launchers, the arsenals, the training camps while they aim for our cities – Beersheva, Shderot, Ashkelon, Netivot, Ashdod. And you would threaten us for the ongoing state of war?

There cannot be peace until you recognize your enemy. There cannot be successful negotiations if you fail to understand those you would bring to the table. You fail on both counts.

After hearing that you threatened Israel unless the peace talks succeed, I can only conclude that your ignorance is even greater than I thought. I knew, years ago, that you had no clue what the Arab world is thinking, feeling, dreaming of. Now I know the same is true about Israel – you don’t understand us any better than you understand the Arabs and that amazes me.

Unlike the Arab world, Israel is an open society – read our newspapers, speak to the people on the street. No one will stop you and we won’t escort you with secret police to control your experience. Pick any town, city, village, settlement and you will hear the same thing. Pick any street, any person and ask them what they dream of, what they want for their children. We do not dream of glorious death and martyrdom for our sons. We dream that they will never have to even serve in the army.

I have friends who agonized over their sons going into the army. I could understand my agony, as I grew up in the United States where all my friends promised they would run away from the US before they would ever be drafted. I knew nothing of army and war and guns. But my friends here in Israel? They had served in the army; why did they suffer so when their sons were drafted.

“We served so that they wouldn’t have to,” I’ve been told over and over again. They never believed, 20+ years later that their sons and daughters would have to sacrifice three years of their lives, that we’d still be at war.

You won’t hear that in the Arab world. Oh, they’ll tell you that they dream of peace because they know that is what you want to hear, but in Arabic, they will talk of a time when there will be no Jews in the entire Middle East, never mind no Jews in the Palestine they envision. Their religious leaders will whip them up to the glory of Allah and jihad. But still you would expect us to make peace with them?

Theirs is a culture built on a dream – a dream that they will own the world…my corner, John Kerry, and even yours. Theirs is a society that believes in a heaven earned by causing the deaths of others and so when their sons blow themselves up and kill those Jews, they celebrate. And yes, they celebrated on 9/11 when they killed your people just as they celebrated when we released their terrorists and killers in yet another attempt to appease them…and you.

If you don’t understand their ability to celebrate, I will confess that neither do I. I have seen the mothers hugging their sons in a video, made the night before they killed themselves…and the innocent men, women, and children, of their enemies who happened to be on that bus, in that mall, or asleep in their homes. It doesn’t matter to them if they kill a soldier, a man with a gun, a pregnant woman, or a helpless child. The more, the better, in their twisted interpretation of what their God wants. You don’t understand this and I can see where it is hard, given your western mentality. But not understanding it doesn’t give you the right to ignore it.

You won’t fail in your goal of ramming peace down our throats because of this, however. You will fail because, amazingly enough, you don’t even understand Israel. We are the easiest to get, the easiest, honestly. All you have to do is listen and see – but even that is beyond you.

Listen to our national anthem – it does not speak of war. It is called, “The Hope” and speaks of a dream of 2,000 years to be a free people. We value that – the ability to protect ourselves, to be free in the land of our forefathers. Even the most right wing among us would be willing to compromise for a real peace, a peace where our children and grandchildren could live without the fears we deal with daily. We do not interfere in how they raise their children; we are stupid enough to even fund some of their text books – all in our own misguided belief that we can make peace with those who do not yet want it.

You threaten us with economic sanctions, with international isolation. This is your latest blunder, and it is a big one. Israel is laughing at you this morning. Economic sanctions?

They gassed us, beat us, bombed us, burned us. They haunted us, hunted us, hated us through the centuries across many lands and through this land in the last several decades. They burned the synagogue where my grandmother was hiding; they gassed my great grandmother to death.

International isolation? They put us in ghettos, they exploded our buses and shot our babies in the head. They lynched my neighbor, attacked the buses on which my friends travel. They shot my daughter’s teacher (and his infant son) and ambushed and killed a colleague of mind.

We are fighting for our lives, John Kerry – no less today than we were in 1948. The ONLY difference is that through the greed and stupidity of the Arab nations, we are stronger than we ever were, not weaker. You will fail, John Kerry, because you are fool enough to think you can come here, wave your American flag, look at your watch and tell us you’d like to finish these peace negotiations by 5:00 p.m. because you have a date at the opera or a baseball game to go to.

For a long time now, the Arabs have fooled you. They’ll speak to you of peace over the coffee they serve you and then when you leave the room, they slap each other on the backs and laugh – another successful day at making the US look stupid.

Now, this time, we will have that in common with the Arabs; we are laughing at you too. Naftali Bennet has tried to explain it to you, “There has not yet been a nation that has given up its land due to economic threats, and nor will we. Only security will bring economic stability, not a terrorist state near Ben-Gurion Airport.”

Greater men have failed, John Kerry – and I promise you, until you know Israel and until you understand the Arabs, you don’t have a prayer of succeeding. Go watch the Superbowl, at least then, maybe you’ll have done something worthwhile.

24 Comments on Greater Men Have Tried

  1. קייטלין מרטין // February 2, 2014 at 10:11 pm // Reply

    Secretary Kerry did not threaten Israel. BTW, the Palestinians want to take him to the ICC for supposedly threatening Abbas, something elese he did not do. Let me just say this is the strongest terms: I disagree with this letter.

    Secretary Kerry is no simpleton. He has not been fooled. He may be on mission impossible but he is anything but stupid or naive. Predicting a failure that seems likely doesn’t mean that trying is not worthwhile. It is the correct and moral thing to do. It’s what separates Israel from the Arabs: we value life and we strive for peace.

    Of course, I could make equally negative comments about Naftali Bennet, who fails to understand that Israel cannot possible rule over millions of hostile Arabs and survive as a Jewish state. Right wing Israelis also live for an impossible dream. In that sense you are just like the Palestinians.

    When my father fought for Israel’s independence in 1948-49 and in Sinai he fought for a state that did not include Judea and Samaria and yet it was still Israel. In 1967, when other Israelis celebrated, his first words on hearing of the great victory were, “Occupation. Bad business.” I think history has proven him right.

    A peace agreement, should it ever come (and I do have my doubts) does not mean a terrorist state or greater threat. Gaza became a threat because it was a withdrawal without any peace agreement, and without basic steps to insure Israel’s security, such as controlling the border with Egypt. Prime Minister Netanyahu has made clear that he won’t make those mistakes again.

    Instead of anger at John Kerry we should be thanking him for allowing us to demonstrate once again that Israel is the one side in the conflict that always strives for peace.

  2. Paula,

    So beautiful and eloquently written, with all due respect we should give to our countries leaders.

    It is however unfortunate that only a change in our government leaders will allow your letter to be read and understood. These people are many things, and they are not going to change.

    But don’t give up! I won’t.

  3. Damn, that was good!

  4. Yvaine de Winter // February 3, 2014 at 6:48 am // Reply

    Dear Paula — thank you for this impressive (and important) letter. Is it okay for you if I translate this into German, for German pro-Israel blogs? I’ll send you the links when all is done, if you allow me to translate it. Love, Yvaine

  5. That was fantastic. The best response to those who have tried to impose “peace” aka “death,” on the Israelis.

  6. jerry diamond // February 3, 2014 at 3:33 pm // Reply


  7. Typo: “They invaded – five Arab nations, in 1949.” → “They invaded – five Arab nations, in 1948.”

  8. Isaac ALHADEFF // February 3, 2014 at 5:21 pm // Reply

    I agree with every word you wrote. This Open Letter should also be addressed to Kerry’s Boss, the Muslim and Muslim loving Barak Hussein Obama.

  9. William Bowen // February 3, 2014 at 7:10 pm // Reply


    As we would say here in the U.S. you’ve “hit a grand slam home run” with this open letter to Kerry. John Kerry is working for the interests of John Kerry and his “place in history”. He’s trying to negate the main item he has in a historical context – the fact that he committed TREASON against his own country for his own political gain. The facts do not matter to him, though he will find out in the end that ignoring facts & the truth will not make them go away.

  10. Avraham BenEmanuel // February 3, 2014 at 7:54 pm // Reply

    I am seriously worried about America. Mr Kerry along other of the American political leadership are busy taking sides with the same people who have already taken sides with the hater of God and Israel, the Satan. This leadership is in fact leading their country down the path of failure and distruction.

  11. Richard La France // February 3, 2014 at 9:33 pm // Reply

    When I was a child in Michigan, my father came upstairs to my room with a book that had a plain brown cover with no words on it. He called me over and opened the book to photographs of men and women standing naked behind barbed wire fences, their faces sunken and large, dark circles around their eyes; their ribs could be counted through emaciated, sagging flesh and their arms and legs were thin as a large birds appendages. All my father said that day was, “Don’t ever forget this.”

    When he went back downstairs I heard my mother say, “You showed him that book, didn’t you?” A big argument ensued. Mother was wrong to not want him to expose the truth to me and that truth has helped me to argue that truth with people who claim the Holocaust did not happen.

    I was only seven or eight years old when Father showed me that book. No explanation occurred. It wasn’t until I had finished high school and learned some history that I knew he’d shown me photos of Jews in concentration camps. I’m now 67 years old. I obeyed my father’s request and have never forgotten those photographs. I’ve read Carrie Ten Boom’s book; I read “The Diary of Ann Frank”. And I’ve shed tears and bore the guilt that my blood is half German and half French – guilt of each blood line for different oppressions in different situations. I watched the movie “Schindler’s List” and shed more tears but also found joy that there was such an ally to the Jewish people. And I remember reading the words of the Jews once you were again settled in Jerusalem: “Never again!”

    I’m in the hopes that you will not judge the American people by the actions of our politicians. Considering we are living under a Congress that has the lowest ratings ever in the history of our new nation; and that the actions and inactions of our Congress are seriously brought into question, you have every reason to have written this open letter.

    I must remind all nations that even the reason for sending us to Vietnam during the 1960s and 1970s was misleading because the real reason was that the leader of North Vietnam was trying to rid Vietnam of the French oppressors who were taking control of their rubber plantations and sexually abusing the Vietnamese men and women and boys and girls. We were told we were sent there to fight communism when in reality, one of our allies was being forced to leave Vietnam. It has also been exposed that the allied forces were asked for help in removing the French from Vietnam and Ho Chi Mihn was turned down. That is how the communists became involved. North Vietnam desperately needed help and the communist countries were the only ones who would help them. The South Vietnamese had become rather spoiled by European comforts and preferred to keep the status quo. So, of course, because of disinformation, thousands of Americans died or came home physically and mentally injured and are still waiting in line for help.

    To be honest, I have had my doubts about Israel’s recent government leaders as well. I have no reason to trust the Arab world or the former Persians (now Iranians) because of their belief in jihad. I accuse American evangelicals of causing more trouble around the world than anyone else because of their misinterpretations of a book they stole from the Jews and used small blocks of to pass judgment on others when, in fact, when reading the whole Chapter from where their prejudices arose one can find that almost everyone should be put to death for reasons that only existed more than 2000 years ago. The European ego is a curse on the entire world and the aggressions brought about by that ego have placed too much guilt on the shoulders of their descendants.

    Please believe that the majority of Americans want world peace and are stifled by elected officials who refuse to listen to us. I also believe that all nations are now operating under a cloak of greed, yours included, and that the common people of this earth are no longer of interest to our leaders.

    I have spent my lifetime seeking peace for the common people and no leader of any nation will hear of it. World leaders have shown a total lack of respect for their own citizens and the citizens of all countries because they are all quite instilled into the money and property grab that huge corporations have created. America is now in danger of no longer being a Democracy – threatened by those referred to as the wealthy 1%. Our laws are already being written by corporations and the people no longer have any say in what our elected officials decide. We are daily protesting and calling for an end to the intrusion of that faction of our society that was started by Charles and David Koch called the Tea Party. The Tea Party has infiltrated nearly every organization in our nation and no one has made a move to stop them except those of us to whom they won’t listen. They use a fake version of your religion to literally brainwash people into follow them. They have divided the people of our nation, lied to us and stolen our public lands and disrespected the United States Constitution as though it was a piece of trash. Racism is once again a huge concern. Voting lines are redrawn to discourage certain parties from voting so that the Tea Party can win everything. Worse of all, a trade agreement known as the TPP (Trade Pacific Project) is being decided on by leaders of 12 nations on the Pacific Rim (U.S. included) that will change our lives forever. The contents are barred from being shown to legislators in all 12 nations and are absolutely forbidden to be exposed to the populations at large. We are at a race to hold this pact from being agreed upon because it is going to allow other nations to rewrite our laws if they don’t find them convenient for their nations; we are threatened with the abolishing of our child labor laws, the minimum wage laws and the unions that support workers rights. If President Obama signs this agreement without our approval it will be the end of Democracy for America – a Democracy that is holding on by a very thin thread as it is.

    I am sorry you have found John Kerry so disrespectful and ignorant of your history and your dreams. He’s just as much a victim of our current society as you are. If America fails, the whole world will fail because the corporations don’t intend to stop with these twelve nations. This overtaking of nations and governments by the corporations is a global plan for people like Charles and David Koch and the likes of them. You will get farther with the United States by talking to her people rather than what’s left of her government.

    With great respect for all you’ve been through, and even sympathy for the lies the Arab young people live under, I write to you in hopes of the common people of this world coming together and rejecting the current program of greed and war and destruction.

    Thank you.

  12. Ms. Stern: I happened upon your “Open letter to John Kerry” post by accident, through a Facebook page (Susan Kone’s Holding Hands for Israel). Wow, I am just in awe of what you have written! You have said so much that I would love to have said to John Kerry (and to Barack Obama). As an American citizen, I am ashamed by what my govt. is trying to do to Israel, so I can only imagine how you as an Israeli must feel about foreigners trying to tell your country how to handle matters of life and death, of the very survival of your country.

    I will be sharing the link to your post on my FB page. I am a member of Congregation Beth Hallel in Birmingham, AL ( and I’m confident many of my friends from the synagogue will share it, too.

    I thank you for your letter. I would hope that you will get a response from Kerry and Barry, as I call them, but they are so full of themselves that to acknowledge your letter would mean they would have to admit they are wrong. Their egos won’t allow that, I don’t think.

    May G-D bless and protect you and your family and the rest of your country! I will continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for all of Israel.

    Sincerely, Judy Thorpe

  13. Truly written with the wisdom of God thank you, the truth will set you free Shalom to lsrael my home.

  14. Mario Goveia // February 4, 2014 at 6:59 am // Reply


    I admire the heartfelt emotion put into this letter, but it repeats what we defenders of Israel all know and people like Obama and Kerry deliberately pretend not to know.

    In the meantime Israel has at its disposal a lethal non-toxic WMD which it has refused to use against the Palestinians and their advocates like Obama and Kerry – the Palestinian charters and flags that PROVE that the Palestinians have no intentions of any peace that includes Israel.

    I have been asking these questions for over a decade now but I cannot get a serious answer from any defender of Israel to my following dilemma:

    1. Why are the Palestinian charters calling for Israel to be wiped off the map, and flags that show no Israel not being used by Israel in the propaganda war, as well as to shut Kerry up?

    2. All any Israeli leader has to do is stuff a copy of the Hamas Charter in Kerry’s face and ask him what is Israel’s negotiating position supposed to be against an adversary that is REQUIRED by their founding charter to wipe Israel off the map and kill Jews.

    Tell Kerry to put the cart back before the horse. As long as these Charters exist as written, there can be no serious talks with the Palestinians, so he needs to spend his time convincing them to amend their charters to remove the offensive parts and to replace them with a) acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state, and b) renunciations of violence against Israel.

    By the time they do that, hell will have frozen over.

  15. Paula, shalom

    A freind sent me this after I had sent him ( I doubt you will agree with what is written.)

    Eretz Yisrael has changed hands many times. Surely you know them all. Forget the far past and begin just with Abraham. Still a lot (Assyrians, Bablyonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans (who metamorphosized into Byzantines) , Arabs (after which most people here spoke Arabic), Crusaders, several groups of Turkish peoples, and even the British). The common denominator for all is CONQUEST. Not God, not promised land, not generosity (lets give it to more worthy). Only conquest. That is virtually the only way control of land has changed for all of history (till the 20th century). (Save for Maericam Indians of some Pacific peoples who had no concept of land ownership. ) We Zionist Jews did it also. Israel is here because we conquered it. We bought some, battled in the political battlefield for some, fought wars for some (the old fashioned way of conquering).

    In 1850 there were few Jews here (and as yet no Zionists) but by 1948 there were many. Most from elsewhere, just like you and me. In 1948 there was no functioning Palestinian national movement. But now in 2014, there is . The art of politics and statesmanship is dealing frankly with the facts as they are now.

    Dealing with the facts as they are now, and not reaching back to who promised what to who, is the road to success in solving our problems with our neighbors.

    I know you have a vested interest in the positions you take. If Israel relinquishes Ma’ale Adumim to another state, I will not be pleased. But I will except the reality of it because it is not my home. You do not always present an objective view of things.

    Be well


  16. Paula:

    Well said, clearly explained, and fodder for a mind open to the truth. John Kerry is not a statesman, and he will never get it because he’s dense with self-importance.

  17. Not Impressed // February 5, 2014 at 4:00 am // Reply

    Once again another women complaining and not taking any responsibility Heaven forbid if Israel should be held accountable for all there BS. (Gods chosen people have been know to sent to exile a time or two you know) But Paula here understands the confliction of men’s hearts who carry the weight of there people and nations. Please stop the whining.

  18. what about jewish roots of John Kerry (Cohen)?

  19. Dear Paula
    This is the first time I have heard of you. My brother who lives in Tel Aviv sent me the link to your open letter to John Kerry. He said it was a bit heavy, but I think not at all.
    You have it just right.
    Israel will never never be wiped way like some stain. You said it perfectly. Kerry and Obama do not understand Israel. The British Government do not understand Israel, and yet it is all there in books,films and people’s testimonies. They are stupid beyond words.
    Your writing is an inspiration.

    We hope and pray that Kerry succeeds, it is time to LOOK TO THE FUTURE,
    stop war, destruction and grief. Israel. has lost ENOUGH of its finest people,

  21. It has all been said before. But you have said it all in one place, in one document. Who will put this before John Kerry’s eyes? Who will say this to the United Nations, to the US Congress, to the European Parliament? Who will ensure the leftists in Israel read this and think about it? All those ears have stock replies. So let me suggest that every time Israel has to answer to anyone, let this document be the answer. Let it be read, spoken, published so many times that the rest of the world will know your words by heart.

  22. Dr. Philip J. Shapiro // February 13, 2014 at 3:03 am // Reply

    Kerry is not a man of international stature and he should not be serving as Secretary of State. His lack of insight of Middle East history is a poor reflection on the United States – was he not debriefed on the Arab-Israeli conflict before undertaking this diplomacy assignment? Making threats toward Israel is not only childish, it lacks diplomatic decorum when communicating with an ally.

  23. Dear Paula …your open letter to John Kerry was forwarded to me by a freind. A Jewess who similar to you, is orthodox, has been blessed with bringing her children up in Israel,who stands by her sons who serve in the IDF (Israel Defense Force), who hears about Jews suffering for one reason or another and knows the daily threat.

    This is the first time that I have responded to anything in media.

    When I visit Israel I learn about things that the government do to their citizens in the name of peace.

    Reading your letter to John Kerry a number of thoughts crossed my mind. Menachem Begin was for me a great hero who lived to serve Jews in Israel but many labeled him terrorist. Who is right and who wrong.Menachem Begin himself was deeply saddened by death and destruction and questioned his decision making and I believe was often misunderstood and / or not listened to.

    I think this is my point, I believe peace is something that can only emerge when there is mutual respect. That would require us as individuals (as you mentioned ) to listen carefully to try to understand, to educate ourselves and dig deep with regards to ‘ethics’.
    It saddens me to hear any one call another stupid, what can be achieved by saying that?
    The mother on the video that you watched,who hugged her son for the last time before he blew himself and blew other innocent people up, how did she really feel and how does she feel today.
    Surely we must learn to listen with respect and hope,that we are listened to and respected in return. It is far too easy to be angry at those who have persecuted the Jews and caused and continue to cause terrible suffering.
    The power of the internet has provided us with the ability to do what you are doing. Talking to a very big audience. That is a big responsibility!

    If not for reading testimonies of Jewish people who survived the holocaust and survived liberation,I for one wouldn’t have a clue about the past.

    It׳s good to hear that Israel has a history of helping other countries during difficult times but it would also be nice to hear that the Jewish state also invests in helping the Jewish nation grow from within Jerusalem.

    Should we be clear on who we are before we can express to others what it is that we need,want and believe is rightfully ours.
    Thanks for writing and sharing your views and in inviting others to be in dialogue.


  24. Frank Siegal // February 22, 2014 at 8:30 pm // Reply

    So very well said. I believe that when Kerry was appointed Sec. of State, Obama told him that he needs a win, he needs a legacy and he has accomplished nothing in foreign policy. I believe that is what the fire is under Kerry. He has been given orders to produce a win for Obama at any cost.
    Neither of them could give a rip about Israel, beyond the end of Obama’s and Kerry’s terms.

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