Like many American secretaries of State before him, John Kerry has logged a lot of air miles flying to and from the Middle East to engage is something called "the peace process." Given all the effort, it is disheartening to see just how little true peace there is in that roiling corner of the world.
In 1978, President Carter spent 12 days at Camp David with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat hammering out a peace deal for which Begin and Sadat won the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2000, President Clinton hosted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at Camp David and attempted to pull together a comprehensive peace deal between Israel and Palestine. That effort fell short, but left hope for the future.
Now, hope seems scant. Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli position has grown far more rigid -- Clinton blames Netanyahu for killing the chance for peace that he believes was there after 2000. The Palestinians are split between the moderates led by Mahmoud Abbas and the militants in Hamas with no one in a key role who can claim the stature of Arafat. The Arab countries that need to buy into any deal between the Israelis and Palestinians are distracted by their own internal and external feuds, the rise of marauding Islamic radicals and the looming specter of Iran.
Unlike in 1978 and 2000, there seems to be no one ready to take the peace process seriously -- except poor John Kerry.