John Kerry walks back Israel apartheid comment

John Kerry Walks Back Israel ‘Apartheid State’ Claim

John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, has issued a clarification about his comments that Israel risks becoming an apartheid state unless it accepts a peace deal brokered by Kerry.

Kerry’s closed-door remarks about Israel that became public on Holocaust Remembrance Day created a political firestorm on both sides of the ideological aisle, in part because that’s the same kind of terminology commonly used by Israel haters and anti-Semites. The ex-US Senator from Massachusetts lost to George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election in which Kerry was the standard-bearer for the Democrats.

Despite all his traveling, Kerry doesn’t seem to “get out much,” because Israel — which certainly has its flaws like any country including ours — is the only multicultural, multiethnic democracy in the Middle East where among other things people can practice any religion or no religion as they see fit.

In a statement that seems to lack an actual apology, Kerry reaffirmed his support of Israel and also explained that “… I have been around long enough to also know the power of words to create a misimpression, even when unintentional, and if I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two state solution… ”

On Monday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) called for Kerry to resign as Secretary of State:

“The fact that Secretary Kerry sees nothing wrong with making a statement comparing Israel’s policy to the abhorrent apartheid policies of South Africa, and doing so on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, demonstrates a shocking lack of sensitivity to the incendiary and damaging nature of his rhetoric… Sadly, it is my belief that Secretary Kerry has proven himself unsuitable for the position he holds. And, therefore, before any further harm is done to our national security interest and to our critical alliance with the nation of Israel, that John Kerry should offer President Obama his resignation. And the president should accept it.”

Washington Post columnist and Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer similarly blasted Kerry:

“… What the Secretary of State of the United States has succeeded in doing, in what he thought was a private comment, is to echo and therefore to legitimize the worst of the libelous claims against the Jewish state. If there is one minority in the Middle East that enjoys the rule of law, and protection, and democracy, it is Arabs in Israel. One out of every five Israelis is a Palestinian, overwhelming they are Muslim. There are Arabs in the government, in the Supreme Court, in all walks of life, in the universities… I think Cruz is right, this is beyond something requiring an apology. I think this is a resigning type statement.”

Do you think that John Kerry is sincerely interested in Middle East peace through a so-called two-state solution or is he just after a Nobel Peace Prize to burnish his resume?

[image credit: Thomas True]

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