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October 16, 2015 10:32 am

Kerry Falls for the Big Lie

avatar by Ben Cohen /

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Secretary of State John Kerry's criticism of Israel is "built upon an insidious lie," Ben Cohen argues. Photo: State Dept.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s criticism of Israel is “built upon an insidious lie,” Ben Cohen argues. Photo: State Dept. – There’s no stoppin’ the cretins from hoppin’,” sang the legendary Ramones, in one of their two-minute barnstormers that enters my head every time I see U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry getting on a plane. And never more than when his destination is Israel.

If Kerry receives a frosty welcome in the Jewish state, it shouldn’t come as a shock, at least not to someone capable of empathizing with the ugly situation Israelis are currently facing. Part of the anger lies in the moral equivalence that Kerry’s State Department has molded to explain a deadly explosion of Palestinian violence that is motivated by pure hatred of Jews.

Sometimes that’s been done in ways that are both insulting and incompetent, as when, on Oct. 15, Kerry’s State Department tweeted that the secretary had addressed “the tragic, outrageous attacks on civilians in Israel and the West Bank.” Nothing wrong with that, you might say, except that two minutes later, the tweet was deleted, and then rewritten with the words “tragic” and “outrageous” removed.

Then there was the frankly pathetic echoing of the false Palestinian claim that, as Kerry put it in a Harvard University speech (in remarks that were later awkwardly walked back), “There’s been a massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years and there’s an increase in the violence because there’s this frustration that’s growing.”

The actual data confirms that the reverse is true: From 2009-14, an average of 1,554 housing units were constructed in the West Bank each year, a marked decline on the previous several years, and connected in the main to natural population growth.

But what bugs me most of all is Kerry’s failure to recognize that his criticism of Israel, along with his sympathetic arm around the shoulder of the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas—an aging autocrat respected by the secretary as an embattled moderate to whom Israel can, and should, make concessions—is built upon an insidious lie. A lie worthy of the term “Big Lie”: a strategy beloved of totalitarian regimes, which involves concocting the most toxic falsehoods, and then repeating them with increasing volume and venom.

The present Big Lie is the endless stream of propaganda from the Palestinians, and Abbas in particular, that there was never a Jewish Temple on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, and that Israel is changing the status quo at the site to the extent that the very survival of the Al-Aqsa mosque is at stake. Asking for Israeli reassurances that this is not the case, as the U.S. administration has done, is like asking Jews to prove that the Holocaust is not a myth, or that Passover matzah doesn’t contain the blood of non-Jewish children. It legitimizes an allegation that is patently false, and it legitimizes as well the belief behind it, which is that Jews have no claim upon the city that, for centuries, they have faced during prayer. (I wonder, incidentally, if anyone who mocked that last sentence would mock similar emotions about Jerusalem, or Mecca for that matter, from a Muslim.)

The immediate impact of this latest in a series of Big Lies from Abbas has been a campaign of murder and terror founded upon anti-Semitic loathing. As the savage Hamas cleric Sheikh Muhammed Sallah declared from Gaza, “Stab! My brother in the West Bank: Stab the myths about the temple in their hearts!” Eight Israelis now lie dead and dozens more have been wounded because of a culture of incitement that rejoices in and celebrates brutality.

Some readers will have heard of the notorious radio station in Rwanda, Radio Mille Collines, whose hourly incitement against that country’s Tutsi population led to a 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of 800,000 human beings over a period of 100 days. In one broadcast, the announcer growled, “They will be struck by misfortune, they will be struck by misfortune…those living in Mburabuturo, in the woods of Mburabuturo, look carefully see whether there are no Inyenzis (“cockroaches,” a dehumanizing word for Tutsis) inside.”

I have little doubt that were the Jews of Israel as vulnerable and exposed as were the Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda two decades ago, they would be “struck by misfortune” on a similar scale. Because the vile rhetoric of Palestinian leaders, clerics, and even regular people venting on social media, echoes that broadcast by the Hutu genocidaires.

But if Rwanda seems too distant, and too gargantuan in scale, let’s put this in American terms. A similar outbreak of violence here in the U.S. would have brutalized more than 3,000 people. Its purpose would be an exact reflection of the words of Chris Harper Mercer, the shooter in the recent murder spree at a community college in Oregon, who told his victims, “Because you’re a Christian you’re going to see God in just about one second.” That’s how Abbas—whose most recent outrage was claiming that a 13-year-old Palestinian terrorist was “executed” by Israeli security forces just hours before photos revealed the boy recovering in, of all places, Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital—wants Palestinians to see the Jews.

Even though many of these same Palestinians who attack Jews loathe Abbas, because he has achieved nothing in nearly a decade of power, Abbas continues with the incitement—an especially chilling example of “leading from behind.” That is why a responsible secretary of state would, upon meeting Abbas, ask him, “Do you really believe the things you say about the Jews and their tie to Jerusalem, Mr. President? If so, please look at where such words have led in the past. And look at where they are leading now.”

When Israel emerges successfully from this latest spate of murder and terror, as it inevitably will, it will have only the resilience of its people and its security forces to thank. On one level, that’s a source of pride, for Israelis, and for those of us who care about Israel. But it also underlines a more significant misfortune: the bilateral relationship between Israel and the Obama-led U.S. just took another dive.

Ben Cohen, senior editor of & The Tower Magazine, writes a weekly column for on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics. His writings have been published in Commentary, the New York Post, Haaretz, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. He is the author of “Some of My Best Friends: A Journey Through Twenty-First Century Antisemitism” (Edition Critic, 2014).

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  • David Dancyger

    What Kery has said recently is only because he’s trying to be nice to Israel. This is the same man who just a few short years ago was in Damascus telling Assad that any peace agreement signed with between Syria and Israel would require the complete return of the Golan.
    He doesn’t like us.

  • Robert Weintraub

    Kerry is a part of the “Big Lie”

  • Good piece, Ben

    I argue in a piece entitled, Democratize the Temple Mount, that they should change the status quo because it is clearly and obviously prejudicial against Jews.

  • Gnomercy9

    Hanoi John is now Halal John.

  • Geoff

    President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry share a commonality with M. Abbas the head of the PA. All three are Totalitarian Utopians. The Secretary and President’s Utopian vision is to increase power and control into their hands through an ever extending Big Government. Mr. Abbas and his fellow Islamo-Fascists want the same end but along their journey they first NEED to eliminate the Jewish state of Israel and find all those Jews hiding behind rocks and trees and murder ever last one.

    The Obama Administration through its words, policies and specifically their actions won’t walk away from that end.

    The infamous Mr Gobbels stated tat telling a lie over and over again, eventually that lie will become Truth. To maintain what little sanity Mr. Abbas, Mr. Kerry and Mr. Obama have, they all it seems have become actives to their never ending lies.



  • Will the USA send a minder with him, to explain how he actually meant one thing when he said something else; or how his words were misquoted, misunderstood, misinterpreted; or how he misunderstood what he was asked or told?

  • brian ellman

    I am concerned that we only view Kerry—who has been allocated a loud mouth,but unfortunately has minimal brain power—as a credible source
    We need to remember that he is the spokesman for Obama and the Democratic Party—which is not the Democratic Party of our fathers
    We should be mindful that at the Democratic National convention in 2012 —a floor vote PASSED a resolution to support anti Israel Boycott (BDS)

  • Peter Joffe

    Kerry is a Muslim as is Obama and many others in the now Islamist USA government. What else can you expect? The Quran teaches lies and deceit as a legitimate means to an end. Democracy is its own greatest enemy as it allows people like Obama and Kerry to wreak huge damage for term after term. Islam will kill Democracy, with Democracy itself and then darkness will descend. Wake up America you are killing yourselves in the name of free and fair “Democracy”. What will the next USA great Civil War look like as I cannot see any other outcome as the USA infects itself with Islam.

  • ART

    A sick, ugly, monster killed people in Charleston plenty of blame was found as incitement to him. The confederate flag and confederate history was blamed and punished. Here the incitement is clear and open, just read any of abbas dozen of speeches, including his UN diatribe Yet, Obama/Kerry deny the obvious. Then they switch the blame to the innocent and the victims

  • Jonah

    Wrong, Kerry is the lie. He and his cohort have massed those spoken of in Zechariah 12.

  • Erik

    If Kerry hadn’t had the lobotomy required of all officials who agree to serve Barack Obama, it might be possible to reason with him. Instead, the case that needs to be made is that he has pursuing, over and over, the same dumb policies that failed to move the Arab-Israeli conflict forward since before the establishment of Israel. Promising the Arabs concessions doesn’t work, it just encourages them to demand more. If Kerry, or Obama, wanted to get credit for progress in the region, he would focus on holding the Palestinians and their leadership accountable for the consequences of the decisions they make.

  • rbockman

    Don’t know why this grandson of apostate Jews is in the picture, he told the world who he was when he testified before congress with lies about U.S. troops in Vietnam. Watch, see with your own eyes.

  • Laura

    He hasn’t fallen for the big lie, he has taken on the role of being one of its main propagators in order to achieve Obama’s political objectives.