Jul 31 2013
By Daoud Kuttab
The body language evident in two recent pictures of American, Israeli and Palestinian officials speaks volumes. The first was of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas along with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli President Shimon Peres. The picture was taken during the World Economic Forum held on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea in May. It was during this conference that Kerry pitched the economic plan that included the goal of raising up to $4 billion to boost the Palestinian economy.
The second photo worthy of deconstruction was taken at a press conference in Washington on Tuesday at the resumption of direct Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. In addition to Kerry, the photo includes chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Israeli Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni.
In both photos a trend can easily be noticed: the Israeli participants flash the widest smile possible, followed by the Americans, while the Palestinians have forced Mona Lisa-like smiles.
It is easy to understand why the Israelis were smiling at the Dead Sea and in Washington. They have finally received the payoff that they have been demanding, namely the appearance of talks. Many have commented that the Israeli side is more interested in the process of peace talks than in peace itself. Israelis believe that the photo opportunity of talking to Palestinians will help to cleanse the Israeli image from all the sins and guilt that they have accumulated as an occupier holding another people against their will for an astounding 46 years of military occupation.
Kerry has his reasons for smiling. Following guidance from President Barack Obama and his own gut feelings developed over years as a senior member of the US Senate’s foreign relations committee, Kerry understands clearly the importance of photos with Palestinians and Israelis shaking hands or standing alongside each other. Continue Reading »