Originally published in Tikkun Daily
During a closed door meeting on Friday with influential world leaders, U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, warned that Israel is in danger of becoming an "apartheid state" if the two-state solution is not achieved.
Talking with leaders at the Trilateral Commission on Friday, Kerry said:
“A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens—or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state...Once you put that frame in your mind, that reality, which is the bottom line, you understand how imperative it is to get to the two-state solution, which both leaders, even yesterday, said they remain deeply committed to.”While President Obama rejected using the word to describe Israel's occupation of the Palestinians, it's notable that State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki did not condemn Kerry's sentiments, explaining that the Secretary of State was simply expressing an opinion shared my many: that the two-state solution is the only way for Israel to exist as a Jewish state.
However, and perhaps predictably, Bill Kristol's right-wing group, the Emergency Committee for Israel, has called for Kerry to be axed for using the term:
Secretary Kerry's musings on the Jewish state's dire future have become a regular feature of his public remarks. His latest prediction follows other statements in recent months that have in effect threatened Israel -- never the Palestinians -- with a list of disasters should his diplomatic efforts fail: violence, isolation, delegitimization, boycotts -- and now "apartheid."Josh Rogin, who broke the Kerry story for The Daily Beast, noted that the 1998 Rome Statute defines "apartheid" in part as "inhumane acts… committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime." It's perhaps for this reason that Israeli officials themselves have used the term to describe what will happen if the two-state solution never materializes.
It is no longer enough for the White House to clean up after the messes John Kerry has made. It is time for John Kerry to step down as Secretary of State, or for President Obama to fire him. And it would go a long way toward repairing the damage Kerry has done if his predecessor as Secretary of State, who is the likely Democratic Party nominee for president, explained why this kind of rhetoric had no place in her State Department and why it will have no place in her presidential campaign.
In 2010, then Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the following:
"As long as in this territory west of the Jordan River there is only one political entity called Israel it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic...If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.”Despite this, so-called "pro-Israel" groups have come out strongly against Kerry, calling for him to be axed. Of course, these same groups stood idly by as Israel doubled the pace of its settlement building during the Kerry-led peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Why? Because in truth, such organizations are not interested in peace. They are interested in nothing more than the demonization and domination of the Palestinians in what they view as a zero-sum game war which, if won in the way they'd like, could result in exactly the type of long-term result Kerry fears.
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, just out from Oneworld Publications.