John Kerry gives the ‘separate but not equal’ speech to Israel

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Here are some of the reactions to today’s major speech by John Kerry, secretary of state, outlining the principles of a two-state solution but acknowledging that Israeli leaders and Donald Trump may not choose that outcome.

Jamil Dakwar of the ACLU seizes on the speech’s one rhetorical accomplishment:

Kerry’s speech uses unprecedented language of ‘separate but not equal’ to describe Palestinian reality under Israeli military occupation.

While Hussein Ibish states that Kerry’s speech acknowledges that all this has been clear to the Obama administration for years, and:

Indeed, Adam Horowitz said that Kerry had offered less a vision and more a eulogy to the two state solution.

On CNN, Daniel Kurtzer said the speech was policywise, “the most substantive speech in decades” from the American government, but “politically dead in the water,” given the inevitability of Donald Trump undoing the policy.

On MSNBC, Noura Erekat described Israel as an “apartheid regime” — a breakthrough for the network, we believe — and said that Obama and Kerry are “trying to save Israel from itself.” She responded to Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand (in his response speech given two hours after Kerry speech) that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state by stating that Israel has been a recognized state for nearly 70 years, including the last 38 of them by the Palestinian leadership, and asked Americans if they are “OK” with the United States now demanding to be designated as a country for white people. “I leave that up to your listeners,” she said.

Munayyer was funny:

Kerry in 2013: If there is no two state solution in 2 years, its over! But if there is no two-state solution in 3 years i’ll give a speech!

The New York Times headline was very accurate: “Kerry Rebukes Israel, Calling Settlements a Threat to Peace.” Bill Kristol, worshiper of military force, heard the same thrust:

Diana Buttu told the IMEU of the speech’s importance, and its limitation.

“It’s very good that in his speech today, Secretary Kerry recognized that the sole reason for Israel’s settlement enterprise is to cement its occupation over Palestinian lands and prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. He also highlighted the suffering that Palestinians have endured for the past 50 years living under Israel’s oppressive military regime.

“However, the parameters that he laid out for a permanent peace agreement perpetuate the same framework and process that have failed to advance the cause of peace for more than two decades now.”

Naftali Bennett, the Israeli education minister, was chuffed that Kerry mentioned him three times as an enemy of peace, though not by name.

Munayyer said the Bennett moments were political; Bennett is trying to take Netanyahu out as PM:

Does anyone think Kerry’s specific references to Naftali Bennett were not purposeful?

William Youmans at GWU echoes Dawkar and says that Kerry has laid down language for the Democratic Party.

Kerry’s language is stronger than expected. While too little, too late in policy terms, it signals a critical shift among Democrats.

He also said that “Obama and Kerry laid the groundwork for the impending and inevitable US break with Israel in the post-Trump era.” That’s a long ways away.Sara Yasin notes one of the stronger moments of the speech:

Kerry: “The settler agenda is defining the future of Israel”

Many commenters, including Dakwar, also made this point about Kerry’s enthusiasm about a Jewish state in which all citizens are supposedly equal:

Then Yousef Munayyer:

Kerry said that the refugee issue should not be resolved so as to “affect the fundamental character of Israel.” Ali Abunimah:

Sara Yasin issued this criticism (which we have also made of the MSM), with graphic proof of the Jim Crow media policy.


Peter Baker of the NYT echoes Hussein Ibish that all this was known:

The speech, which described the first Zionist Congress as attended by “visionaries,” was a hit with Labor Zionists.

J Street echoes Yasin:

Secretary Kerry: The settler agenda is defining the future of Israel.

Jeremy Ben-Ami says that Israeli and American Jews will learn from Kerry.

90+% of Israelis or Amer Jews have no clue about the realities that Kerry laying out. if they did, one staters wld lose tomw.

He refers of course to the apartheid-one-state future. Kerry did seem to acknowledge other visions of one-state but said they are recipes for conflict. As Diana Buttu said in comments published by the Institute for Middle East Understanding:

There is a third alternative, though, which is being increasingly embraced by Palestinians and others. That is a single state in all of Palestine and Israel with equal rights for all, regardless of religion or race.

Yaki Lopez, an Israeli diplomat at the L.A. consulate, doesn’t cotton to that:

90% of Israelis could care less about how you think they should live their lives

Kerry knows he has the American public behind him. Read the commenters on the New York Times report on the speech. On the Readers’ Picks list, you have to scroll down to comment 20 or so before you find anything critical of Kerry.

We’ll update as the day goes on.

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As a Palestinian i reject the parameters of John Kerry.Period.

Just had the displeasure of listening to nietanyahu,s response to John Kerry,s speech and unsurprisingly he spent most of his time accusing the US gov (who just gave him 38bn dollars) of planning the resolution and scheming with others. So f—–g what.What the hell does the source of the res… Read more »

Israel is on an unsustainable path. They can keep building settlements but it is not in their interest to do so. the assumptions they base their thinking on are dud. It’s like Ayn Rand said – you can ignore reality but you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality. Alternatively… Read more »

Kerry speech is the speech of a liberal Zionist: People who adopt the religion-based identity of Jewish are entitled to Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine…but only if they go about it in a ‘kinder, gentler’ way.

Zionists win again. They are kicking up so much dust over this as to intimidate this type of thing from happening again. They couldn’t be so more clearly in the wrong on this issue as what could they possibly defend, but amazing to see the one sided coverage of this… Read more »