I am reminded of a presentation made by David Olesker, founder and director of JCCAT (Jerusalem Center for Communication and Advocacy Training) at an HTC Melave Malke last year. He told us that the amount of cruel anti black legislation and treatment of black South Africans then versus the way the State of Israel treats its West Bank Arabs now are worlds apart. The differences are so many, it would take hours to list and describe them.
But Anne Bayefsky of the Touro Institute on Human Rights said it best. From Fox News:
It makes no difference to the anti-Semite how preposterous the charge is. One-fifth of Israel’s citizens are Arab, enjoying more democratic rights and freedoms than in any Arab state. With Israeli Arabs elected to the Israeli parliament, appointed to the Israeli Supreme Court, and senior members of Israel’s foreign service, the charge is patently false. The claim also stands in marked contrast to Palestinian insistence that no Jews will be allowed to settle in “Palestine.”
The very idea of a Jew inhabiting Arab-claimed territories has been labeled the crime of “Judaization,” now a familiar term in U.N. parlance. Palestinian children’s textbooks, media, and public events of all kinds, are notoriously anti-Semitic.
The apartheid shoe fits in the Arab-Israeli conflict – on Judenrein Palestine.
The responses to Kerry’s Apartheid statement are understandable. Florida Senator Marco Rubio called Kerry’s statement “outrageous and disappointing.” House Majority leader Eric Cantor has called for Kerry to apologize to both the Israeli government and people. And he has asked that the President repeat an earlier rejection of any such comparison as historically inaccurate and emotionally loaded. Texas Senator Ted Cruz has asked for his Kerry’s resignation as Secretary of State and called upon the President to accept it.
Mr. Kerry added that he did not believe that Israel was an “apartheid state” or that it intended to become one. Mr. Kerry did not dispute that he had used the phrase but said it had led to a “misimpression” about his views.
“If I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two state solution,” he said.
I believe him. I do not for a minute think he ever believed that Israel was or will be an Apartheid state. He simply misspoke. In his zeal pursuing peace – he used a word he shouldn’t have – and probably didn’t really mean. I think what he really meant is that relations between Israelis and Palestinians can only get worse if things continue as they are.
I know about misspeaking. I have used words both publicly and privately that I wish I could take back. Even as recently as this weekend in a private conversation I had with someone – I used a word that I did not mean which only had the slightest connection to what I really meant. And that created hard feelings that were terribly hurtful to him. I had conveyed a message that I never intended to convey. And no matter how much or how sincerely I apologized for using that word – I suspect that I will never be trusted by him again – even though my apology was accepted.
Sometimes we misspeak and use words intending one meaning – but whose common understanding of them is quite another. It happened to me, this weekend. And I believe that this is what happened to Kerry.