The Anti-Defamation League, one of the US’s most powerful Jewish organizations known for its advocacy on behalf of Israel, criticized Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday for comments he made in Munich regarding the negative consequences that Israel can expect if efforts to achieve a two-state solution break down.
In a letter to Kerry, ADL chief Abe Foxman said that while he appreciated Kerry’s efforts to move the peace process forward, the remarks about Israel’s likely ostracism in the event that no deal is reached will only spur the pro-boycott elements and the Palestinians to become further entrenched in their positions while being less likely to compromise.
“In speaking about the price Israel will pay if the peace talks break down and Israel is blamed, you may have thought you were merely describing reality,” Foxman said. “But as the key player in the process, the impact of your comments was to create a reality of its own.”
“Describing the potential for expanded boycotts of Israel makes it more, not less, likely that the talks will not succeed; makes it more, not less, likely that Israel will be blamed if the talks fail; and more, not less, likely that boycotts will ensue,” Foxman wrote. “Your comments, irrespective of your intentions, will inevitably be seen by Palestinians and anti-Israel activists as an incentive not to reach an agreement; as an indicator that if things fall apart, Israel will be blamed; and as legitimizing boycott activity.”
Kerry’s comments, which also drew sharp reaction from Israeli politicians, including cabinet ministers in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government, were initially made during his appearance at last week’s Munich Security Conference.
“You see, for Israel there’s an increasing delegitimization campaign that has been building up,” Kerry said. “People are very sensitive to it. There are talk of boycotts and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that?”
Israeli politicians’ sharp criticism of Kerry led to the State Department issuing an unusual statement Sunday imploring Kerry’s critics not to distort his words.
“Secretary Kerry has a proud record of over three decades of steadfast support for Israel’s security and well-being, including staunch opposition to boycotts,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki wrote.
US National Security Advisor Susan Rice came to Kerry’s defense on Tuesday after he was roundly criticized by a number of Israeli government officials over comments that he made on the weekend about the Israeli Palestinian peace talks.