There are nuances in speech. And there are not-so-subtle nuances.
It is our wish that Secretary of State John Kerry stop with his recent rhetoric, specifically when it comes to Israel.
In less than a week, three separate gestures just fully validate what many inside the American Jewish community and even in the gentile world are wondering.
It started with his statement “I fear that what would happen is, if Congress were to overturn it, our friends in Israel could actually wind up more isolated and more blamed.”
Perhaps if Kerry had come back from Vienna with a deal demonstrating America’s iron-clad support of Israel and a commitment to keep militarized nuclear-grade materials away from Iran forever, then maybe there would be no one to blame for a flawed deal.
We’re reminded of the 1991 comments made by President George H.W. Bush after Jewish groups came to Washington, D.C., to lobby for loan guarantees to Israel. The President was against those guarantees and used the words “powerful political forces” who were opposing him. Those three words caused an avalanche of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic mail and supportive phone calls backing the president for standing up against the Jewish community.
Mr. Bush had opened a can of anti-Semitic worms. And he knew it.
He told Shoshana S. Cardin, then the chairwoman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, that he was “concerned that some of my comments caused apprehension within the Jewish community. My references to powerful political forces were never meant to be pejorative in any sense.”
That same sort of slap is coming from the State Department. Indeed, Jewish federations, Israel lobbying and advocacy groups, synagogues and educators are opposing the President’s deal with Iran with thoughtful arguments and with a dignified demeanor. We would expect the same of Secretary Kerry. Instead, his pointing a finger at Israel is absolutely the worst tack he could take.
Kerry makes us wonder even more when he chooses to skip Israel this week on a diplomatic mission in the Middle East. In the meantime, he puts the focus of blame on Israel for the disintegration of peace talks with the Palestinians. He used the word “poof” to describe the peace process after Israel delayed release of Palestinian prisoners and then announced new settlements. It wasn’t until Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) countered that the Palestinians are unilaterally seeking statehood that Kerry called both sides “unhelpful.”
It clearly does not seem that Kerry and Obama are seeing this so-called deal with the Iranians the same way that Israel and many U.S. Jews and elected officials see it. Kerry has wrapped his arms around a mirage that he calls a “deal with Iran.” The rest of us don’t see that mirage. Instead we see a very real existential threat to the security of Israel and the U.S.
Instead, Mr. Kerry’s words, and now his actions, really aren’t that subtle after all.
And like President Bush did 14 years ago, Kerry needs to watch how he delivers his rhetoric.
Because, really, it’s not so subtle.