Cruz: 'Words Matter'; Kerry Should Resign Over Israel/Apartheid Comment

Patrick Goodenough | April 28, 2014 | 7:30pm EDT
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Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 8, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

( – Secretary of State John Kerry should resign over his reported comment that Israel risks becoming an “apartheid” state if it does not make peace soon, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on Monday.

“Secretary Kerry has long experience in foreign policy, and he understands that words matter,” Cruz said on the Senate floor. “ ‘Apartheid’ is inextricably associated with one of the worst examples of state-sponsored discrimination in history.”

“There is no place for this word in the context of the State of Israel.”

Kerry on Monday defended his support for Israel, saying he didn't mean it was an “apartheid” state, but admitting her shouldn't have used the word:

“I have been around long enough to also know the power of words to create a misimpression, even when unintentional,” he said in a statement. “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.”

According to The Daily Beast, Kerry used the term in remarks during a closed-door meeting of the Trilateral Commission on Friday. Tuesday marks the deadline Kerry set when he launched a fresh Israeli-Palestinian peace drive nine months, and the initiative looks close to failure.

“A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative,” Kerry is reported to have told the influential group. “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.”

Cruz recalled being one of just three senators who 15 months ago felt unable to support Kerry’s nomination as secretary of state, and said Kerry's recent reported remarks had proven those concerns to have been well founded.

“Rather than focusing on our clear national security interest – which is continuing to guarantee Israel’s security through our unquestionable commitment to it – Secretary Kerry has instead repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to countenance a world in which Israel is made a pariah because it will not sacrifice its security to his diplomatic initiatives,” he said.

“The fact that Secretary Kerry sees nothing wrong with making a statement comparing Israel’s policy to the abhorrent apartheid policies of South Africa, and doing so on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, demonstrates a shocking lack of sensitivity to the incendiary and damaging nature of his rhetoric.”

Cruz said he believed Kerry had proven himself unsuitable for his post. “Before any further harm is done to our national security interest – and to our critical alliance with the nation of Israel – that John Kerry should offer President Obama his resignation, and the president should accept it.”

‘Loaded term’

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a press briefing Monday she was not going to confirm the accuracy of reports about comments made during a private meeting.

“But the secretary does not believe and did not state publicly or privately that Israel is an apartheid state, and there’s an important difference there,” she said.

“I think no one should question or could accurately question his commitment and friendship with Israel and his belief that it is a vibrant democracy, and he continues to believe that there should be and can be a path toward a two-state solution that will be able to provide the security and the prosperity that the people deserve.”

“Does he understand that using that word – whether he said ‘is,’ ‘was,’ ‘may be,’ ‘could be,’ ‘definitely will be,’ ‘definitely won’t be’ – that that is a loaded term that’s going to cause a lot of angst and a lot of indignation?” a reporter asked.

“We’re certainly all familiar with the term, but I don’t have any other commentary for all of you,” Psaki replied.

Apartheid was the system of statutory, harshly-enforced racial segregation introduced by the white minority Nationalist government in South Africa in 1948. The African National Congress led an armed struggle against the system, which also eventually attracted an international campaign of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation.

Israel’s foes have long sought to associate Israeli policies with racial segregation, and in 1975 the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution declaring that “Zionism is racism” – a measure that was only repealed in 1991.

After South Africa’s apartheid era formally ended with the first democratic election in 1994, anti-Israel activists increasingly embraced the term to justify their calls for sanctions and boycotts against the Jewish state.

At the U.N.’s first “Durban” conference in 2001, attempts to label Israel an “apartheid” state prompted the U.S. to walk out. It also boycotted subsequent Durban follow-up conferences in 2009 and 2011.

See also:

Israel Once Again Accused of ‘Apartheid’ at U.N. Racism Meeting (Sept. 23, 2011)

‘Apartheid’ Israel, Islamophobia on the Agenda for U.N. Racism Meeting (Nov. 11, 2008)

Jewish Group Slams Carter Over 'Apartheid' Analogy (Dec. 21, 2006)

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Not Like Apartheid, South African Lawmaker Says (Oct. 17, 2003)

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