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Op-Ed: It's All in the Family

The political discourse with Kerry is voiced, heated, and personal. Why?
Published: Friday, February 21, 2014 10:39 AM


In recent weeks, the level of accusations and counter-clarifications between Israeli Cabinet ministers and White House spokespersons concerning statements made by Secretary of State Kerry seem to be emotionally charged, even according to Israeli standards. In a recent flare-up, two of Prime Ministers Netanyahu’s Cabinet ministers went even further, lashing out at Kerry and accusing him of undermining the Jewish state’s legitimacy and the chances of reaching a peace agreement.

What is it about John Kerry, in his unrelenting crusade to encourage Israel to achieve the impossible - a peace agreement with the Palestinian Arabs - that has made the political discourse so voiced, so heated, and so personal?

Kerry was quoted at a recent defense conference in Munich Germany: “You see for Israel there’s an increasing de-legitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it. There are talk of boycotts and other kinds of things.”

Kerry said. “Today’s status quo absolutely, to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained. It’s not sustainable. It’s illusionary. There’s a momentary prosperity, there’s a momentary peace.” In response Netanyahu said international pressure on Israel would backfire and only cause the Palestinian Arabs to harden their positions. “Attempts to impose a boycott on the State of Israel are immoral and unjust. Moreover, they will not achieve their goal,” he declared.

While Netanyahu refrained from taking aim at Kerry, some of his ministers were harsher. Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, called Kerry’s comments “offensive, unfair and insufferable.” “You can’t expect the state of Israel to conduct negotiations with a gun pointed to its head,” he said.

Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, from the Jewish Home party, said all “the advice givers” should know that Israel will not abandon its land because of economic threats. “We expect our friends around the world to stand beside us, against anti-Semitic boycott efforts targeting Israel, and not for them to be their amplifier,” said Bennett, a fierce critic of the Kerry-led talks. “Only security will bring economic stability, he said.

This kind of tit-for-tat is all too reminiscent of memorable segments from Woody Allen movies in which an extended Jewish family are all sitting around the dinner table and arguing about how to solve the problems of the world, each member never doubting that his argument is the most valid. A classical Jewish debate. So what is it about John Kerry, who is seen as acting in a pushy and overly aggressive manner, that really ticks us Israelis off? Is it that his style is reminiscent of noted American Jews, or Jews by association, or even descendants of Jewish parents or grandparents? Names like Peter Beinart, Tom Friedman, Richard Cohen and even Henry Kissinger, quickly come to mind. What is John Kerry doing among this group ?

It seems that the "fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree" and in Archie Bunker's words, it’s "all in the family", even if he is a third generation of converts to Christianity. By making a simple check in Wikipedia we learn the following about John Kerry’s personal life and background:

"Kerry was raised as a Roman Catholic by his Catholic father and Episcopalian mother. It was discovered in 2003 by genealogist Felix Gundacker that Kerry's paternal grandparents were born Jewish as Fritz Kohn and Ida Lowe in Austria, changed their names to Frederick and Ida Kerry from Kohn in 1900 and converted from Judaism to Roman Catholicism in 1901.

The Kerry name, widely misinterpreted as indicative of Irish heritage, was reputedly selected arbitrarily: 'According to family legend, Fritz and another family member opened an atlas at random and dropped a pencil on a map. It fell on County Kerry in Ireland, and thus a name was chosen. The village where Fritz Kohn was born in 1873 was at that time known as Bennisch and was a part of Silesia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but is today known as Horní Benešov in the Czech Republic. John Kerry has said that although he knew his paternal grandfather had come from Austria, he did not know until informed by The Boston Globe on the basis of their genealogical research that Fred Kerry had changed his name from Fritz Kohn and had been born Jewish, nor that Ida Kerry's brother Otto and sister Jenni had died in Nazi concentration camps."

Here lies the troubling predisposition of John Kerry, a distant member of the clan, who holds utterly hypocritical standards when it comes to the Jewish state, standards that are superhuman and often impossible to satisfy. It is exactly these uneven expectations by our Jewish brethren that foster the current global atmosphere in which Israel is guilty as charged. While Kerry never misses an opportunity and goes to great lengths to break stereotypes about the Palestinian Arabs, he sadly reinforces an inaccurate impression of Israel’s status in Judea and Samaria, always referred by him as the "West Bank".

For starters, John Kerry could easily and authoritatively share with the world that Israel gained control of that "West Bank" while resisting a war of annihilation against the Jewish State provoked by Nasser of Egypt and joined by King Hussein of Jordan.

He does not reveal that the area consists of Judea and Samaria, the two oldest Biblical "settlements" of the ancient Jewish nation. He does not reveal that Israel has given 97% of the "West Bank" to Palestinian Arab control, despite incessant terror attacks launched against Israelis and Jews from those areas. He chooses not to reveal that Gaza is ruled by Hamas, with its genocidal charter against Israel, its honor killings against young Palestinian Arab women, and its murder of homosexuals who are falsely accused of collaborating with Israel.

He does not even reveal that 95 percent of the security barrier’s length is a fence, and not a wall. Not to mention that the barrier was erected only after more than 1,000 Israeli civilians were blown to smithereens on buses and in coffee houses and that since the construction of the security barrier, suicide bombings have virtually ended.

John Kerry, and other Jews-by-association, are not wholly responsible for the tsunami of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism hitting the coastline of Israel. However, their closeness to the tribe, empowering them to voice an outspoken and critical narrative against Israel usually reserved for “family get-togethers” has encouraged the true enemies of Israel and the anti-Semites of the world to unite and rise up against the legitimacy of the State of Israel.