Politico, doing its usual water-carrying for the Obama administration, has published a piece defending Secretary of State John Kerry as attacks have come fast and furious for his remarks likening Israel’s future to apartheid. Even the title of the piece, “John Kerry, under Fire,” implies that Kerry is being targeted unfairly.
The supposition that Politico is protecting Kerry is borne out in what follows: a long-winded series of defenses determined to show that the same man who once lied about Vietnam atrocities before the Foreign Relations Committee is only in hot water because he speaks the God-honest truth, albeit stumblingly.
Examples include this: “Kerry’s been confronted with this lesson throughout his career in public life, repeatedly getting caught in impolitic descriptions of what he would argue are just realistic assessments of where things stand.”
Oh, he’s just impolitic. But he’s so brave: “This guy is absolutely locked in, unafraid of bumps in the road, and he always jokes, ‘What are they gonna do — send me to Vietnam?’ said a senior official close to the secretary.” Additionally, “Now the proof is in the pugilism. Kerry has spent a lifetime in the arena, and that’s where he’ll stay.”
And he’s so persistent: “He’s not looking for a quick sugar fix, he’s looking for a way to keep making progress, keep chipping away,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
But Politico isn’t worried about Kerry’s ineptitude: “The ‘apartheid’ furor is one that in the minds of the State Department is playing out purely within the American political context, and is likely to disappear just as quickly as it arrived.”
Of course, to defend Kerry, Politico takes the standard myth of the threat of Palestinian overpopulation dwarfing Israel:
Few sober assessments of the Israeli-Palestinian positions, from hardliner or dove, differ significantly from the situation Kerry was apparently trying to describe. The Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza aren’t going anywhere, and their population is growing. The Israelis have no interest in empowering the Palestinians with citizenship rights, which would over time risk Israel’s identity as a Jewish state. In the near future, that could result in a situation where — in what would still be one country — the Palestinians outnumber Israelis, while Israelis retain the economic and political power.
The idea that the Palestinian birthrate is an existential threat to Israel is a long-standing myth, as noted here.
The classic section of the piece and how it pleads Kerry’s case occurs when it repeatedly tries to explain away the difference between Kerry’s words and what he “really meant.” Three times the piece writes variations of “What Kerry meant to say was …” followed by a “What many heard …” statement.
The first example used was his query last November: “Does Israel want a third Intifada?” The second was from February: “The risks are very high for Israel. People are talking about boycott. That will intensify in the case of failure.” The third was from April, when he listed actions from both sides that hindered peace, concluding by mentioning the Israeli approval of new settlement construction and blurting out, “And poof! That was sort of the moment.”
It’s not that Kerry is targeting Israel. Oh, no. “Former Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert have used the word, as has current lead negotiator Justice Minister Tzipi Livni,” Politico points out about Kerry’s use of the word “apartheid.”
Of course, Politico ignores the criticism Kerry has received from someone as stalwart a supporter of the Obama administration as Sen. Barbara Boxer, let alone the widespread condemnation of his remarks. Instead, it focuses on Anti-Defamation League National Director Abe Foxman’s statement accepting Kerry’s apology.
But then, Foxman isn’t exactly the person you’d expect to attack Kerry for very long; in 2011, when Obama stated that an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal had to be based on pre-1967 lines with land swaps, Foxman criticized GOP presidential hopefuls for responding by saying Obama was “throwing Israel under the bus.”
Politico has no desire to list those who eviscerated Kerry for his most-recent swipe at Israel. After all, when you’re carrying water to bolster support for the administration, it doesn’t help to have holes in your bucket.