John Kerry should resign over Israel ‘apartheid’ comments

The position of Secretary of State is arguably the most prominent and important post in the US government after the President and Vice President, with the holder of that office being the representative of US foreign policy interests across the globe. John Kerry was appointed Secretary of State little over a year ago, but yet in this short period of time he has already proven why he is not fit to serve in this role. Yesterday’s comments concerning the future of Israel have reaffirmed that Kerry is not a suitable representative of American and Western interests in a deeply hostile world, and as a result I believe he must resign.

I happen to agree with Secretary Kerry that a two-state solution is the most desirable long-term aim in order to put an end to the Middle East conflict. However, I also believe that whilst this may be the preferred solution, it is not the only solution, and at a time when the Palestinian Authority are making unity deals with the anti-Semitic terrorist group Hamas it is also not a particularly likely solution for the foreseeable future.

Therefore, in this context it is deeply unhelpful and insulting for Secretary Kerry to suggest that, without a two-state solution, Israel risks becoming an ‘apartheid state.’ Not only does such language damage US authority and call into question Kerry’s commitment to supporting the state of Israel, it is also a highly offensive smear against the Middle East’s only democracy, incorrectly framing Israel as the main obstacle to a two-state solution. As a man whose political career was forged in the anti-Vietnam War movement, John Kerry will be familiar with contemporary protest movements and will be fully aware of the common usage of the phrase ‘apartheid state’ by Israel’s most militant opponents.

Several Jewish leaders have condemned Kerry’s comments, with one organisation criticising him for using the ‘repugnant language of Israel’s adversaries and accusers.’ Likewise, there has been an angry reaction from politicians on both sides of the political spectrum, most notably from Republican Senator Ted Cruz who rightly noted that  the word apartheid is ‘inextricably associated with one of the worst examples of state-sponsored discrimination in history.’ Cruz, who many believe may stand in the 2016 presidential election, has become the most prominent political figure to call for Kerry’s resignation, but he is certainly not alone.

It is important not to take Kerry’s words out of context; after all, he didn’t suggest that Israel currently is an apartheid state. However, by using such language he has unintentionally associated himself with the worst excesses of the anti-Israel movement, therefore leaving his position as Secretary of State untenable. Likewise, by making these comments just a day before Holocaust Remembrance Day, he  has shown at best a significant lack of judgement and sensitivity. Ted Cruz is right to call for Kerry’s resignation; the coming days will determine whether he has the integrity to do so.

George Reeves

Also published on my personal blog Plainly Speaking:


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