The State Dept.’s Excuse Branch was not able to answer a reporter’s question on Monday if it was wise for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to use the word “apartheid” when referring to Israel even to a possible situation in the future.
Kerry said on Friday, as reported here, that Israel could become an “apartheid” state if it doesn’t follow his script to give the Palestinian Authority whatever it takes so that the globe-trotting secretary can score at least one artificial success before the Obama administration goes home in two years.
One reporter asked spokeswoman Jen Psaki, the director of the Excuse Branch, if Kerry really thinks Israel is an apartheid state.
Gosh, no, she said. “Israel is a vibrant democracy,” Psaki explained, and hastily added that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert – you know, the one convicted for bribery – and his former defense minister Ehud Barak – you know, the one who is married to the military-industrial complex – have made similar comments.
Associated Press reporter Matt Lee then stepped up to the mike and asked specifically if it was wise for Kerry to use the “apartheid” word, even if he was referring to a future situation in which the word could be applied to Israel.
The Excuse Branch director danced around the questioning until she finally was pinned in the corner, where she simply ruled that it was time to move on to less interesting subjects, such as the American concern for Egypt’s “preliminary death sentences against 683 defendants and the upholding of death sentences against 37 defendants from a March 25 decision.”
Lee asked, “Can you acknowledge that using ‘apartheid’ is offensive for many,” including Israelis? “Is the Secretary aware of this?”
Psaki went back to the defense that Israeli officials have used the word, but Lee argued, “You are supposed to be neutral” and asked if any other American officials ever used the “A” word during negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Doesn’t Kerry understand that using the word, whether referring to the past, present or future, would cause “angst and indignation.” Lee asked.
After Psaki’s comment that she has “no other comment,” Lee turned the tables and argued that from the Palestinian Authority point of view, Israel is an apartheid state..
“Kerry is getting it from both sides” and was it really “smart” for Kerry to use the word,” he continued.
Lee was followed by Said Arikat, correspondent for Al-Quds, who asked why Israel cannot be defined as an apartheid state since it has checkpoints [then again, so does the United States and every other normal and even abnormal country] and separate roads [which is rarely true except where the Palestinian Authority decides who can use the highways].
Psaki then abruptly put an end to the discussion and stated, “I think we are ready to move on.”
So the questions still stands:
If Kerry really did not mean that Israel is an apartheid state, didn’t he understand that using the “A” word is not very smart?
After all, he is Secretary of State of the United States of America and therefore is very smart.