Conservatives are calling Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama “anti-Semitic” after Kerry reportedly warned that Israel risks becoming “an apartheid state” absent a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
While Kerry’s remarks echoed what several senior Israeli officials have said, he walked the comments back in a statement on Monday. Still, many on the right, like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), say that Kerry should now resign. But others are taking the matter a few steps further, claiming that the incident indicates that both Kerry, and Obama, are anti-Semites — a tactic that has at times been employed by some on the right against those they disagree with on Middle East policy.
Here are a few examples:
Fox News host Katie Pavlich: “Obama won’t fire John Kerry for two reasons. 1. doesn’t need the donors 2. because he’s anti-Semitic.” (when asked to clarify whom she was calling anti-Semitic, Pavlich said “Obama.”)
Right-Wing Radio Host Mark Levin: “Did you know that John Kerry is an anti-Semite? … Now he’s giving aid and comfort to the terrorists in the Middle East. Let there be no mistake about it. Now he’s giving aid and comfort to the Jew-haters in the Israel-haters in the Middle East .” (Levin’s remarks were promoted by Fox Nation.)
Jerusalem Post Columnist Caroline Glick: “John Kerry’s recent use of the term ‘Apartheid’ in reference to Israel’s future was an anti-Semitic act.” (Glick is also an Adjunct Fellow at Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy.)
Experts, analysts and indeed, Kerry and Obama themselves, have debated whether using the term “apartheid” to describe Israel — either now (as in the West Bank) or in the future — is useful in the debate on Israel and Palestine.
The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg said in a column on Tuesday that while he refrains from using the term “apartheid” in the Israel debate, he has employed it in the past as a warning about Israel’s future and about the state of affairs in the occupied West Bank. For that reason, he says, he disagrees with Kerry’s critics. “I believe,” he adds, “that Kerry is a pro-Israel secretary of state who worries about the Jewish state’s future.”
So do Israel’s leaders, who have repeatedly praised the Obama administration for its commitment to Israel’s security and have praised Kerry for his recent efforts to forge peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“At this point,” says Noam Sheizaf of the Israeli news website +972 Magazine, “the mainstream debate over Israel/Palestine in the U.S. is so crazy and absurd — so disconnected from the facts on the ground [in Israel and the West Bank].”
Indeed, as Washington Post White House correspondent Scott Wilson said on Twitter on Tuesday, “The Kerry-apartheid issue underscores what anyone who has worked in Israel knows: You can say things there you can’t say here,” later adding that “[t]he conversation within Israel [is] so much more raucous” about the future of Israel as a Jewish state than the debate inside the U.S. is.