An interesting development has emerged in Secretary of State John Kerry’s difficult struggle to find peace in the Middle East.
It turns out that the angry charges leveled at him by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet members — that Kerry’s promoting “anti-Semitic” notions — cannot possibly be true. Kerry’s family name originally was Kohn and that Kerry’s family has Jewish origins.
Grandpa Kerry/Kohn changed his name and his religion, from Jewish to Catholic, which John Kerry learned shortly before announcing his presidential candidacy in 2003.
In fact, Cameron Kerry — the secretary of state’s brother — is a practicing Jew to this day, having married a Jewish woman.
Israeli foreign ministry officials, of course, are quite sensitive to any comments they construe to be against their interests. John Kerry said recently that “The risks are very high for Israel” after meeting with Iranian officials about plans to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program. Israeli officials took that to mean Israel needed to watch its step if it continued to threaten Iran with military action.
Naftali Bennett, an industry minister, said, “We expect of our friends in the world to stand by our side against the attempts to impose an anti-Semitic boycott on Israel, and not to be their mouthpiece.”
I understand fully the Israelis’ angst over negotiating with a country that has declared its intention to wipe Israel off the face of the planet. Let us take care, though, to avoid throwing around pejorative terms like “anti-Semitic” where it regards someone whose family roots run deep in the Holy Land.