Op-Ed: Apartheid State? Israel?
Sarah Stern, EMETThe writer is founder of the Endowment for Middle East Truth. EMET’s mission...
Israel has Arab citizens serving in its parliament; its national beauty queen is an Arab; every Israeli hospital treats all who need care.
Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent remark about Israel being an “apartheid state” is just one in a series of statements he has made in the last several months that indicate that he has crossed over the line from being an “honest broker” in a dispute to being an advocate for one side. It is as though the identical person simultaneously serves as both referee and coach for one team.
First of all, on the face of things, the description of Israel as an apartheid state is so ludicrous that it would be droll, if the implications of the fact that it emanated out of the mouth of America’s chief diplomat were not so grave. Israel has Arab citizens serving in its parliament; its national beauty queen is an Arab; every Israeli hospital treats all those in need of care, whether Arab, Christian, Muslim or Jew with equal urgency, sensitivity and expertise.
Israeli Defense Force medics are currently on the Golan Heights giving sorely needed medical care to hundreds of Syrians, without regard to whether they have been wounded fighting for the Assad regime or for the opposition.
It would be quite remarkable if we could see parallel actions among Israel’s 22 Arab neighbors, or among the 57 Muslim states.
This comment of Mr. Kerry’s is just one in a series of comments that reveal the Secretary of State’s jaundiced eye towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
In November, while speaking in Amman, Jordan, he had said, “Does Israel want a third intifada?” Suggesting that the only alternative for the Jewish state to the maximalist demands that the Palestinian Authority was placing on Israel is for the Palestinians to wage renewed violence against Israel?
This is highly irresponsible; because it connotes that the government of the United States would understand and condone a renewed outbreak of violence against Israeli civilians.
In February, Secretary of State Kerry threatened that if the talks do not succeed, “The risks are very high for Israel; People are talking about boycott.” In other words, if Israel and the Palestinians do not reach a peace accord, they risk further isolation and delegitimization in the international community.
This is yet another threat from America’s chief diplomat, bestowing a sense of understanding of, and therefore concurs a sort of legitimacy to, the boycott, divest and sanctions movement against the state of Israel from the United States.
And then, while testifying before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on April 8th, Mr. Kerry put the onus of the breakdown of the talks solely on the shoulders of the Israelis, he stated, “Unfortunately, the prisoners weren’t released on the Saturday they were supposed to be released … day (one) went by, day two went by, day three went by, and then in the afternoon, when they were about to maybe get there, 700 settlement units were announced in Jerusalem, and poof, that was sort of the moment.”
It is an interesting fact that just before Secretary Kerry made this statement, on April 1st Palestinian Authority spokesman Ahmad Assaf had boasted that he had “blackmailed Israel to release its prisoners.” And last December, senior PA leader Nabil Shaath stated that the only reason the Palestinians had not “stopped negotiations” is because they “want to fulfill our goal of having all the prisoners released.”
Mr. Kerry’s statement also glaringly omits the following facts:
The prisoner release had never been a subject of the negotiations. Releasing these beloved murderers of innocents and terrorists was something that the United States had encouraged Israel to do simply to get the Palestinians to deign to sit down to the negotiating table with Israel.
In April of 2004, before the internally gut-wrenching decision that the Israelis had made to withdraw from Gaza, a letter was sent from President George Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, expressing what the President called “ an ironclad assurance” that “The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel’s security including secure, defensible borders”, “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.
The apartments that Mr. Kerry referred to were to have been built in Gilo, a suburb of Jerusalem and “already existing major Israeli population center.”
What has become of America’s past ironclad assurances to Israel under this administration? I suppose that they had suffered the same fate as our missile defense treaties to Poland and the Czech Republic, as well as the vanishing “Syrian red line.”
The point is, however, that Mr. Kerry’s biases could only serve to further calcify the maximalist demands of Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, to aid legitimacy to those who want to wage further violence or war against, or to isolate and boycott the Jewish state, and to further weaken the already illusory chances of a sustainable peace in the Middle East.
Sarah N. Stern is Founder and President of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, or EMET, an unabashedly pro-American and pro-Israeli think tank and policy shop in Washington, DC.