John Kerry visited Gaza today. This is–correct me if I’m wrong–the first time an American official has visited the Strip since the beginning of Israel’s bombardment at the end of December. Of course, Kerry is careful to assure that this “does not indicate any shift whatsoever with respect to Hamas…. What it indicates is our effort to listen and to learn,” said Kerry. He’s half right.
Just because John Kerry goes to Gaza doesn’t mean that the Senate Foreign Relations committee will be any more likely to deal with Hamas or any more likely to condemn the Israelis. But when Kerry says that he and the US foreign policy establishment want “to listen and to learn” that does indicate a shift in policy. Because neither listening nor learning were a part of the way diplomacy was conducted during the Bush presidency.
Kerry’s going to Damascus next.