For someone whose entire job is diplomacy, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was less than diplomatic last week when he said that Israel is at risk of becoming an “apartheid state.”
The comments drew fire from Republican members of Congress and Jewish organizations who called them “offensive and inappropriate.” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called for Kerry to resign
In a statement issued Monday afternoon
, Kerry said unequivocally that he has not “ever stated, publicly or privately, that Israel is an apartheid state or that it intends to become one.”
I have been around long enough to also know the power of words to create a misimpression, even when unintentional, and if I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two state solution … it is a word best left out of the debate here at home.
Kerry isn’t the first prominent figure to get in trouble over comments about Israel, nor will he be the last. Longtime White House reporter Helen Thomas resigned from Hearst News Service in 2010
after she made comments about Israel and Palestine in an online video.
[CONFERENCE: Corporate Communicators Conference, June 9-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.]
It would seem to go without saying, but since others have made the mistake, it may be worth a reminder: When it comes to talking about Israel, proceed with caution.