Secretary of State John Kerry is the latest victim of the urge to record everything everyone says every time they say it.
That does not for a moment excuse what he said the other day in what was supposed to be a closed-door meeting, which is that Israel may be turning into an “apartheid state” if it doesn’t hammer out a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority.
The term “apartheid” is poison in polite international policy company. South Africa implemented that disgraceful policy for many decades in which it denied the black majority living there the rights of citizenship. Whites and blacks couldn’t interact with each other. The policy ended with the release from prison in the early 1990s of the late Nelson Mandela. The rest is history.
Kerry’s use of the term at the very least was careless. It well may have damaged U.S.-Israel relations beyond repair.
Why wasn’t he smarter than to make his point another way? Didn’t he learn from recent history, such as the time Mitt Romney was caught on an audio recording at a fundraising dinner making his infamous “47 percent” remarks about how nearly half of Americans are going to vote Democratic because they depend on government subsidies and handouts? Didn’t he learn from the video recording of Congressman Vance McAllister making out with his staffer? There are countless other instances of people in high places being caught saying and doing things they regret because someone had a recording device hidden somewhere.
A Daily Beast reporter recorded Kerry’s statements the other day, getting past detection and apparently not heeding ground rules stipulating the meeting wasn’t open to the public.
In this world of instant communication where everyone has a set of electronic eyes and ears, the only response simply is: Too bad.