New York, October 22, 2014:
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized Secretary of State John Kerry for making repeated, absurd statements blaming Israel for increased terrorism and instability in the Middle East.
In a recent speech at a White House ceremony for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, Secretary Kerry said the Israeli/Palestinian conflict was thought of by various leaders as fueling violence and leading to recruitment by the jihadist organizations. Secretary Kerry did not repudiate these absurd claims, thus lending credence to them. Anyone who believes that the Islamic State (IS) is murdering Christians, Muslims, Kurds, and others and seizing vast tracts of Iraq and Syria because of the lack of peace between Israel and Palestinian Arabs is either an idiot or an anti-Semite.
Secretary Kerry said, “I think that it is more critical than ever that we be fighting for peace [between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs], and I think it is more necessary than ever … As I went around and met with people in the course of our discussions about the ISIL [Islamic State] coalition, the truth is we –– there wasn’t a leader I met with in the region who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation that they felt.”
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf denied that Secretary Kerry had intended to mean that Israel was causing unrest and destabilization in the region, saying that Secretary Kerry “did not make a link between the growth of ISIL and Israel, period … That was a wrong reading of his comments” (‘US rejects Bennett’s criticism of Kerry’s remarks on ISIS, peace process,’ Jerusalem Post, October 17, 2014).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We remain puzzled and perturbed that Secretary Kerry makes public assertions about Israel that are damaging to it’s image and interests, then purports to deny that he made any such assertions or that his plain words have been misinterpreted.
“In fact, Secretary Kerry has not denied his latest statement. A denial would have involved repudiating the remarks he heard from Arab leaders. When Secretary Kerry repeats the absurd anti-Israel claims made to him by Arab leaders without comment or critique, his non-response to these absurd claims may well be interpreted as an endorsement by Kerry.
“The claim that the absence of an Israeli/Palestinian peace settlement is a force-multiplier or cause of jihadist recruitment in various Middle Eastern conflict is absurd. Considering that all jihadist organizations loudly proclaim their desire to see Israel utterly destroyed, the idea that an Israeli/Palestinian peace would tranquilize the situation is nonsense. Self-evidently, these terrorist organizations would be further enraged.
“In fact, the Arab war on Israel is unrelated and irrelevant to the present violence and conflict in Syria, Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. If Israel didn’t exist, the same problems between and within Arab countries would still exist.
“Historically, too, the war waged by Arabs on Israel has had little to do with the numerous other conflagrations besetting the region.
- In the 1950s, it had no bearing on the Algerian war.
- In the 1960s, it had no bearing on the Egyptian invasion of Yemen, or the bloody emergence of the Ba’athist dictatorship in Iraq, or the Aden (now Yemen) Emergency in which hundreds were killed in violence.
- In the 1970s, it had nothing to do with the Libyan-Chad war.
- In the 1980s, it had nothing to do with the Iran-Iraq war, in which over a million people were killed.
- In the 1990s, it had nothing to do with Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait –– though Saddam Hussein absurdly linked them.
“Secretary Kerry’s latest damaging remarks about Israel which he fails to repudiate fit a pattern.
“In February, Secretary Kerry said in a speech delivered in Munich that, if Israeli/Palestinian talks fail, boycotting and isolating Israel is both inevitable and understandable, implying Israel will be held responsible and that boycotts are to be expected. He could have said that the U.S. would utterly oppose all such boycotts and reject blaming Israel, but he didn’t.
Then, in May, Secretary Kerry said in remarks to the Trilateral Commission that Israel is becoming an apartheid state, a statement that all but justified the Palestinian violence, international boycotts and delegitimization. He could have placed blame for the absence of peace where it belongs –– on a Palestinian partner which refuses to accept Israel as Jewish state. Instead, he chose to essentially defame Israel before the world as a rights-abusing state fit to be a pariah –– then denied he had said or meant any such thing.
“We fear that it is likely that the Obama Administration is making a habit of uttering statements hostile to or blaming Israel –– and thus adding to its international isolation –– then offering denials and partial retractions to shirk any responsibility and domestic political cost for having made them.
“In any event, such a pattern increases pressure and does grave harm to Israel and the U.S./Israeli relationship. It certainly neuters President Obama’s oft-made claim that he ‘has Israel’s back.’”