JERUSALEM—Ordinary Israelis are furious about the Obama administration’s accusing Israel of committing acts of terrorism, drawing moral equivalency between the Jewish State and the terrorists who seek Israel’s destruction.
On Oct. 13, Secretary of State John Kerry suggested at a forum hosted at Harvard that Israel’s building additional residences in West Bank towns—which Israel’s opponents refer to as building settlements, carrying the connotation that Jews are “settling” land that belongs to someone else—is provoking the current wave of attacks against Israel. The following day, Kerry’s spokesman at the U.S. Department of State—John Kirby—was asked to clarify Kerry’s remarks.
Kirby was asked, “You do consider it an act of terrorism. Okay, so that would suggest then that you believe that this is—that both sides are, in fact, committing these…” Kirby cut off the questioner to respond, “Well, I would say certainly individuals on both sides of this divide are—have proven capable of, and in our view [are], guilty of acts of terror.”
Israelis whom Breitbart News talked to on the streets of Jerusalem were less than enthusiastic about the comparison.
Yoav Rotem is a tour guide in Israel, whose business takes groups to historical, cultural, and religious sites across the country, as well as conducting wine-tasting tours. Shown this quote, he responded, “It’s a bit stupid. Two Israelis were involved in an act that was terrible but he’s putting me in the same category as if I were a terrorist. I do not want to wipe the Palestinian people off the map.” Rotem noted that his perspective was as someone who deals daily with foreigners as he takes them on tours. He believes that Israelis who do not regularly deal with Americans might have a more blunt assessment: “Many regular Israelis would simply say of Kerry, ‘He’s a son of a bitch.’”
Breitbart News also spoke with an Israeli soldier, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment on U.S. policy. “That is insane,” he began. “We punish anyone who deliberately attacks innocent people, and do everything to avoid harming civilians. The Palestinians deliberately target civilians, and celebrate those who succeed.”
Elliot Chodoff, a leading Israeli counter-terrorism agent whom Breitbart News has quoted previously in this series of reports, remarked a couple days later— not in response to Kerry’s and Kirby’s words, but regarding current pressure from Washington— “The United States says Israel must show restraint, when we have had one thousand rockets fired into Israel over the past year. I wonder how America would respond if a thousand rockets were launched into New York or New Jersey.”
Shifting gears, he adds:
“Then IDF [Israeli Defense Force] responds to take out the attackers and the rocket launchers, who are launching against Israeli civilians, firing from Gaza’s schools, and hospitals, and other civilian locations, and sooner or later civilians are killed during the response—because all humans make mistakes, and war is messy, and the reality is that there are almost always unintended casualties during military operations, especially in urban settings—then the United Nations issues a statement condemning Israel for human-rights violations.
Back in the U.S., Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) reacted to the remarks from Kerry and Kirby in a press statement: “The Obama administration is the most hostile we have seen towards the nation of Israel in our nation’s history.” Calling the remarks an “unfounded slur” that is “utterly unacceptable,” he added, “We must immediately and unconditionally reject the delusion that the coordinated Palestinian frenzy of bloodlust is in any way legitimate. There is no moral equivalence here between the savagery of the Palestinian terrorists and the innocent Israelis they are trying to murder.”
Ken Klukowski is legal editor for Breitbart News, reporting from Israel. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.