Jan. 9, 2017
In his recent speech about Israeli settlements, Secretary of State John Kerry unfairly blamed Israel and minimized Palestinian violence. But he also did something else: he grievously dishonored the African-American civil rights movement, just weeks before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
In his December 28 speech, Kerry recited a litany of accusations against Israel. The unkindest of all was his charge that Israeli policies were creating “segregated enclaves” for Palestinians, and a “separate but unequal” system for Israelis and Palestinians.
Kerry’s choice of language could not have been an accident. He didn’t speak off the cuff. He didn’t ad-lib his 73-minute lecture. He spoke from a carefully prepared text that he and his speechwriters must have spent many days, if not weeks, preparing.
Kerry knew what phrases would resonate the most strongly with the American public, especially in the final days of the first African-American president. The secretary of state invoked the words “separate but unequal” in order to equate Israel with some of the ugliest images from America’s past.
But Kerry got it completely backwards.