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Administration Enlisting Jewish Groups To Counter Attacks On Kerry

Secretary of State John Kerry

Secretary of State John Kerry

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is pushing back hard against Israeli critics of John Kerry, enlisting American Jewish groups to respond to personal attacks on the secretary of state.

In response to some of the harshest anti-Kerry rhetoric, Jewish groups weighed in with their own denunciations.

Administration insiders and Jewish communal officials say some of those rebukes followed direct solicitation by administration officials. But the responses from the Jewish groups also reflect a concern that the tone of some of the Kerry criticism could damage relations between the administration and the Israeli government.

“Even if people, be they in Israel or in the United States, have disagreements with what John Kerry is proposing, it’s absolutely essential that those disagreements are expressed on the substance and not through personal attacks,” said Nathan Diament, the Washington director of the Orthodox Union, which issued a statement condemning a small number of Israeli rabbis who warned that Kerry could face divine punishment.

Administration officials and Jewish groups sympathetic to Kerry’s initiative say there is a longer-term agenda in preempting attacks on the framework peace agreement the Obama administration is expected to propose soon.

The administration has tapped sympathetic Jewish figures and groups to prepare the ground in the Jewish community for the difficult compromises on territory and Jerusalem that will be embedded in the framework peace plan.

Robert Wexler, a former Florida congressman, is traveling to Jewish communities around the country advocating for the compromises likely to appear in the framework proposal. J Street, the dovish Israel policy group, has launched a campaign of town hall meetings across the country to support a two-state solution.

The harshest public attacks on Kerry – the ones that drew the rebukes from American Jewish groups – have come from fairly marginal Israeli figures. U.S. officials, however, also are upset by criticism of Kerry coming from more significant figures within the Israeli government.

Senior Obama administration officials say Kerry has made his unhappiness clear in the daily phone calls he has with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The prime minister has been responsive. According to The Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu told a party faction meeting last week that the best way to disagree with the Obama administration is by “substantively discussing the issues and not by engaging in personal attacks.” Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, told a group of businessmen in Tel Aviv that Kerry is a “true friend of Israel.”

Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to Washington, told JTA that “Throughout his nearly 30-year tenure in the U.S. Senate and as secretary of state, Secretary Kerry has been a staunch supporter of Israel and of strengthening the U.S.-Israel alliance.”

Most of the statements from centrist Jewish groups were triggered by remarks last month by Moti Yogev, a backbench Knesset member from the Jewish Home party who said in an interview that Kerry’s “obsessive” focus on the talks “may have anti-Semitic undertones.”

The American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League and World Jewish Congress condemned Yogev’s remarks. The ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, called the comments “offensive” and “ beyond the bounds of legitimate critique.”

But criticism of Kerry has come, too, from Israelis who are closer to the center of power.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon was quoted in the Israeli media last month privately calling Kerry’s peace efforts “messianic.” And last week, after Kerry had warned that a failure to achieve a peace agreement could spur more boycotts against Israel, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett accused Kerry of “amplifying” the boycott movement while Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz called Kerry’s warning “intolerable.”

Even as they condemned Yogev, Jewish groups have not necessarily been on the same page as the Obama administration regarding the remarks from more influential Israeli officials.

Foxman called the furor over Yaalon’s alleged comments a “tempest in a teapot,” noting that they were made in private. The ADL also issued an open letter to Kerry criticizing his warning that a peace setback could fuel boycotts of Israel.

Still, Jewish groups have tried to strike a supportive tone. Foxman’s letter criticizing Kerry also stressed that the ADL backs his efforts to achieve a settlement.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, has been responding not only to attacks from Israeli officials but also from nongovernmental groups. Kerry’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, cited among other “mischaracterizations” of Kerry’s record a satirical video in which an Israeli actor bewigged with a gray bouffant declares Jerusalem holy to Klingons and Hobbits, among other groups.

Dani Dayan, a senior Yesha Council official, said he was amazed at Psaki’s reaction. The satire in the video, he said, was aimed at Kerry’s policies, not his person.

“It’s nonsense, he’s not anti-Semitic – I even suspect he’s philo-Semitic,” said Dayan. “His policies are misguided, the solutions he proposes do not solve the problems.”

(JTA)

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15 Responses to “Administration Enlisting Jewish Groups To Counter Attacks On Kerry”

  1. Ben II says:

    the communists work hard to protect scum like Kerry.

  2. Didn’t Nixon have a “Secret Plan” for ending the war in Vietnam?

  3. Elaine Fox says:

    He can always count on j street

  4. Anonymous says:

    It is about time someone spoke out and let Obama know that Kerry is biased against Israel and the Israeli Jew is not an Uncle Jake, Diaspora Jew. Israel represents true Judaism, not the Rahm Emanuel's. or Martin Indyk.

  5. obama cannot silence us from praying, and God’s ability knows no bounds. obama may think he can do whatever he wants, but he’ll find that ability reserved for God alone.
    If God were to see fit to remove obama, He would not have to strive and strain with people or proceedures. He could simply do it. Pray.

  6. Palestine did not exist – Today this land is in part known as the Gaza Strip, Coveting the land formerly called the Province of Judea that was occupied by the Jewish people until after their expulsion by the Romans from the Province of Judea in after the First Jewish Revolt in 70 CE and later the Second Jewish Revolt in 135 CE – JUDAH, BENJAMIN AND THE TEN TRIBES — WILL RETURN.. the Province of Judea, this land is called Palestine after the land where some of their ancestors dwelled; Called Roman Palestine, the ancient Palestine (Palestinians) took on the cultural heritage of the ancient Philistines.

    Judaea – Palaestina – Judea became a Roman province in the 1st century and lost its independence to the Romans in the process. In the year 6 A.D., Judea fell under direct Roman dominion as the southern part of the Iudaea province. Several Jewish revolts were seen during this time period, but were mainly unsuccessfuly. Jerusalem was sacked and destroyed, along with the Second Temple in the year 70 A.D., with much of the Jewish population being killed or taken into slavery. In the year 135 A.D., the Roman emperor Hadrian, in an attempt to blot out anything Jewish from Judea, withdrew the region’s title of “Provincia Judea” and renamed it “Provincia Syria Palaestina”. This was meant as a direct insult to the Jewish people, as there was an intended connection between the terms “Palestina” and “Philistine”, which were the arch-enemies of Israel a thousand years prior. This is widely believed to be the only origin of the term “Palestine”.

  7. Lisa Kamins says:

    stupid, foolish people, don’t know a rasha when they see one.

  8. Lisa Kamins says:

    stupid, foolish people, don’t know a rasha when they see one.

  9. Lisa Kamins says:

    stupid, foolish people, don’t know a rasha when they see one.

  10. Maynard Miller says:

    Ha ha! I hope the person who said Kerry is a "True friend of Israel" was joking.

  11. Alan Rockman says:

    Kerry is a joke. He would have been shot as a traitor over 40 years ago if our country wasn't so divided over Vietnam. He personally may or may not be anti-Semitic, but he is the scion of self-hating slime – and he serves someone who is definitely an anti-Semite… Barack Obama.

    Furthermore his recent policies and words DO NOT enhance the security of Israel – even the future security of Israel but may very well contribute to its destruction, i.e., his fatally flawed (but so typical of Kerry) deal with Iran that let's them keep their reactors running and their centrifuges spinning, his constant support of the Palestinian position and his insistence that Israel make dangerous concessions to those who don't want peace but the total destruction of Israel.

    In fact it is so outrageous and absurd, not to mention hypocritical that Obama and Kerry are upset with Karzai's decision to release Taleban terrorists when they demanded and insisted that Netanyahu release the killers of Jewish women and children – which sadly he did.

    Hypocrites and cowards they are – even if Kerry MIGHT not be a Jew-hater.

  12. Alan Kardon says:

    One thing for that is certain, any group that supports Kerry will not see a penny from me. Hope all who love Israel feel as I do.

  13. Cathy Sherman says:

    If they can't take the heat, they should get out of the kitchen. Sorry for the cliche, but all these calls for apologies, from Erdrogan to Kerry, are pathetic. Do they ask any other officials other than Israelis for apologies? Like Putin? And Iranians shouting death to America? I'd like an apology for the arrogant and offensive way O & K tried to push more appeasement on us, making our lives much more dangerous. I don't recall any molotov cocktails before Kerry and Obama. Enough already. They should try to fix some of the problems in the US and stay out of Israel.

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