In what is being called an “extraordinary moment of diplomacy,” Fox News host Chris Wallace ran a video of the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in which he can be seen and heard criticizing Israel’s military operation in Gaza. He was speaking in what he thought was confidence to one of his top aides.
The phone conversation was caught on hot mic and Wallace decided to make the most of the awkward exchange by playing it on air.
It was understandably a rather uncomfortable moment for Kerry whose off-the-record comments went totally against what his commander-in-chief, President Barack Obama, said last week about Israel’s right to “defend itself.”
The White House’s position on the Middle East crisis is firm. Just recently, in two separate incidents, the mere suggestion that Israel is committing hostilities in Gaza led to the immediate yanking of two renowned and credible journalists.
Kerry's comments can be heard quite clearly.
"It's a hell of a pinpoint operation," he says, and then repeats the sentence. "It's a hell of a pinpoint operation.”
“It's escalating significantly," the person on the phone replies, and Kerry then says, "We've got to get over there. I think we ought to go tonight." He then calls it "crazy" to be "sitting around."
Of course, John Kerry can’t share the same fate as those two reporters for criticizing Israel. He is the secretary of state after all.
However, his off-camera political gaffe – in some way or another – can help us understand the irony of America’s policy on Israel. Just as in the case of the two sacked journalists, it shows that people are afraid to denounce Israel and are being ostracized for condemning what is actually a blatant and mass violation of human rights.
When Wallace asked his guest if he was “upset that the Israelis are going too far,” Kerry replied:
“It's very difficult in these situations," Kerry said, reiterating the U.S. support for Israel's right to defend itself.
He clarified his comment by saying, "I reacted, obviously, in a way that anybody does in respect to young children and civilians."
The irony in Kerry’s statement is unmistakable.
He supports Israel’s right to defense, which essentially means the death of innocent children and civilians – as the world has witnessed in the past two weeks.
On Sunday, Gaza suffered the bloodiest day since Israeli offensive began. At least 100 Palestinians were killed in one day, taking the death toll above 500.
RECOMMENDED: Middle East Talks: It All Comes Down To Netanyahu
On the home front, the level of censorship is shocking and very damaging. It feels as if no one is allowed to express their disapproval of the humanitarian crises being inflicted on Gazans, most of whom have nothing to do with the militant organization Hamas.
Journalist Ayman Mohyeldin was abruptly pulled from the air by NBC for reporting on an attack that killed four Palestinian children playing on a beach last week. He returned to Gaza Sunday.
Following Mohyeldin’s departure, CNN pulled correspondent Diana Magnay out of her post covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after the reporter tweeted that Israelis cheering bombs hitting Gaza, and who had allegedly threatened her, were “scum.”
Even suggesting support for Palestinians doesn’t seem to be an option.
Barbadian recording artist Rihanna posted the hashtag “#FreePalestine” on her official feed on July 15. But she took the post down within just eight minutes before she started receiving a barrage of replies.
And this is not the first time it has happened. NBA player Dwight Howard also made a brief stand on the Israel-Gaza conflict last weekend.
On July 12, the former Laker and current Houston Rocket sent out this short tweet: "#FreePalestine." About 15 minutes later he deleted the message followed by the following comment:
“Previous tweet was a mistake,” Howard tweeted. I have never commented on international politics and never will."
Since when has a humanitarian crises become equal to “international politics”? Why should anyone be afraid to raise voice against blatant oppression?
Why should anyone apologize for expressing solidarity with a people who are suffering at the hands of forces much more powerful than them?
The answer to all these questions is quite simple. However it has been made much more complicated – as complicated and twisted as John Kerry’s reply to Chris Wallace.
And the sad part is that no one is ready to acknowledge this fact.