April 30, 2014

JAMES TARANTO ON JOHN KERRY: Carelessness or Candor? The “apartheid” slur has a long history.

Was Kerry’s reference to “apartheid” just a careless choice of words? That’s unlikely. Byers reports that Joseph Nye, North American chairman of the Trilateral Commission, sent Kerry a letter profusely apologizing: “I am very distressed that Mr. Rogin somehow gained entrance to the meeting room but also that he blatantly ignored the clearly stated rules we had established and under which you agreed to appear before the Commission. His actions tarnish the Commission’s excellent reputation for honoring this pledge and that of all those who attended the session and did keep it.”

The purpose of granting such an assurance of confidentiality is to encourage candor. And it is hard to believe that Kerry would be especially careless in his choice of words before such an eminent audience.

Further, “apartheid” is a loaded term when it comes to Israel. Even Barack Obama knows that–and knew it in 2008. “There’s no doubt that Israel and the Palestinians have tough issues to work out to get to the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security, but injecting a term like ‘apartheid’ into the discussion doesn’t advance that goal,” the junior senator from Illinois told Jeffrey Goldberg six years ago. “It’s emotionally loaded, historically inaccurate, and it’s not what I believe.”

The “apartheid” slur has a long history, as Joshua Muravchik explained in an article last year for World Affairs. In 1974, the U.N. General Assembly rejected the South African delegation’s credentials, “which meant that the country ‘was effectively expelled,’ wrote America’s then ambassador to the UN, Daniel Patrick Moynihan. . . . The next year, the foreign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference determined to have Israel expelled in the same way.”

And now their vision occupies the State Department, if not the White House.