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:
One of the biggest take-aways from the Kerry speech is that the Obama Amin has fully understood the crisis but chosen to do almost nothing.
— Hussein Ibish (@Ibishblog) December 28, 2016
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:
John Kerry entered public life 45 years ago slandering his fellow American servicemen. He leaves it slandering America's finest ally.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) December 28, 2016
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:
Cannot have Jewish and a democratic state! Either its Jewish or democratic. If a Jewish state then a non-Jew has no status by definition.
— Graylan Hagler (@Graylanhagler) December 28, 2016
Then Yousef Munayyer:
It can't be a Jewish state and provide full equality to Palestinian citizens of Israel
— (((YousefMunayyer))) (@YousefMunayyer) December 28, 2016
Kerry said that the refugee issue should not be resolved so as to “affect the fundamental character of Israel.” Ali Abunimah:
Kerry just endorsed view that Palestinian refugees should be barred from going home solely on racist grounds that they are not Jews.
— Ali Abunimah (@AliAbunimah) December 28, 2016
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:
In speech on Middle East peace, Kerry vents four years of frustration as he heads out the door.
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) December 28, 2016
The speech, which described the first Zionist Congress as attended by “visionaries,” was a hit with Labor Zionists.
John Kerry has always been a great friend of Israel and will always be. His speech expresses true concerns about Israels wellbeing & future.
— יצחק הרצוג Isaac Herzog (@Isaac_Herzog) December 28, 2016
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.
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.