Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon has written an op-ed for Politico Magazine which explains the history of John Kerry’s “unintentional” anti-Israel gaffes which are hurtful to the Jewish State and ignore the facts of the dispute:
Time and again, Secretary Kerry’s erroneous declarations have come dangerously close to suggesting moral equivalency between Israel and its adversaries. They call into question his administration’s ability to act as an honest broker in our region.
Kerry’s recent gaffe suggesting that without a peace deal Israel will become an apartheid state was just the latest of many made by the Secretary of State. For example, three months after the negotiations began he participated in a joint interview hosted by Israeli and Palestinian reporters. When asked by an Israeli reporter why the peace talks were important, Kerry answered, “Does Israel want a third intifada?”
Danon points out:
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By insinuating that if we do not give in to every Palestinian demand to ensure a successful end to the talks, we would return to the era of suicide bombers murdering hundreds of civilians in Israeli city centers, the secretary basically asked the state of Israel to negotiate with a loaded gun to our heads.
While addressing a February conference in Munich, Kerry seemed to give support to the anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment and sanction) movement saying, “the risks are very high for Israel. People are talking about boycott. That will intensify in the case of failure.” Criticizing Kerry, Danon says:
..instead of laying out a clear vision for why the talks he has invested so much time and effort in are in Israel’s interest, Kerry attempted to scare the Israeli public into capitulation. His attempts were viewed here in Israel as a not-so-cryptic message that the United States would no longer retain its steadfast rejection of any boycotts against Israel if our government did not ensure that the talks would end to the U.S. administration’s liking.
Danon then attacked the timing and content of the latest gaffe, arguing that the statement, “made behind closed doors,” was particularly inflammatory as they occurred on a day “when we remember the more than six million victims of our people murdered in the Holocaust last century in Europe.”
To suggest that the Jewish people would ever establish an apartheid regime was particularly hurtful.
Equally hurtful was the implied double standard. Although the administration has from time to time chided the Palestinians for “unhelpful” steps, those comments have not come close to the pointed criticism that has been leveled at our government. This policy of sharing the blame for the collapse of the peace talks, which from the outset was deemed by most independent experts as a long-shot attempt at best, has created the illusion of parity between the two sides. The secretary’s comments make it seem that Israel’s decisions to issue housing tenders, or to exhaustively debate whether to release convicted murders who would have very likely received the death penalty in U.S. courts, were just as damaging to the peace process as the “unity” pact that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has now signed with Hamas, a virulently anti-Semitic terrorist organization.
What Kerry’s apartheid gaffe ignores, Danon explains, is that beyond the fact that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, it is the only pluralistic society in the region:
All citizens of Israel, including the more than 20 percent of the population who are non-Jews, enjoy the same democratic freedoms as well as full human and civil rights. Minorities in Israel participate in our vigorous democracy, are elected to parliament, have served as ministers and preside at all levels of our judicial system, including the Supreme Court. Even the Palestinians of Judea and Samira enjoy full autonomy via the Palestinian Authority.
This stands in stark contrast to the rest of the Middle East, where Christian minorities are persecuted and women and homosexuals routinely oppressed. This includes, of course, Hamas-controlled Gaza.
The semi-apology for the apartheid comment released by the Secretary of State’s office spoke of Kerry’s thirty-year history of support for Israel. Minister Danon does not dispute Kerry’s friendship with the Jewish State. His assertion is that Kerry simply does not understand that Israel will never submit to pressure when it comes to guaranteeing it’s safety.
.…he, like other true friends and allies of Israel, need to understand that we will never sign diplomatic agreements endangering our security and reneging on the rights to our historic homeland as a result of international pressure or threats. For more than 2,000 years, we have ended all our prayers with a call for peace, and Israel continues to do all within its power to achieve this lofty goal. The world, however, should not view this yearning as a weakness that can be exploited for the sake of scoring points or claiming a hollow foreign-policy victory.