Is John Kerry an Anti-Semite?

by Jim Lobe

For a rather slow Thanksgiving weekend, must reading should include an article on The Nation website by Henry Siegman, a former head of both the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America. The article assails a full-page ad that appeared in The New York Times on November 14 featuring Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, whose operations are funded in major part by Sheldon Adelson. In the ad, Boteach accuses John Kerry of anti-Semitism because of the secretary of state’s recent suggestion that the expansion of Jewish settlements may have some responsibility for the continuing attacks by Palestinians on Israelis and may eventually lead to an apartheid situation.

Siegman, who is currently president of the U.S./Middle East Project and who previously led the Middle Eastern Studies program at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), doesn’t pull many punches. Here’s the concluding passage: 

Boteach argues that there cannot be moral equivalence between victims and their oppressors, but he, like his patron, believes Palestinians who have lived for half a century under Israel’s occupation are the oppressors and their Israeli occupiers are their victims. As someone who was born in Germany and lived for two years under Nazi occupation and the Vichy regime that rounded up Jews for deportation to Auschwitz, I can assure Boteach, and Prime Minister Netanyahu, that their perspective is one that Goebbels, who considered the German people to have been the victims of the Jews, would have greatly admired.

It’s worth noting that Elliott Abrams, who became a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at CFR after his disastrous tenure as George W. Bush’s chief Middle East aide on the National Security Council staff, helped lay the groundwork for Boteach’s attack on Kerry. In an October 14 blog post published on the CFR website, Abrams called Kerry’s remarks on the relationship between settlement growth and Palestinian attacks on Israelis “morally obtuse and “factually wrong.”

In a more recent article about the Paris attacks published in The Weekly Standard, Abrams repeats those charges and all but calls Kerry an anti-Semite. Presumably, Abrams decided against tipping over the edge, perhaps as a result of the public reprimand CFR President Richard Haass gave him after he called former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel an anti-Semite.

Abrams has long claimed that the Obama administration has greatly exaggerated settlement growth, a position that would seem very difficult to reconcile with the findings of Israel’s own Central Bureau of Statistics.

In any event, Siegman’s article makes the situation quite clear.

Photo: Shmuley Boteach

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. Sheldon Adelson and Elliott Abrams do their best to conceal from the American people the great damage done to US national security interests, by the growth of illegal Jewish colonies in the occupied West Bank. Nonsense about “anti-Semitism” is part of the their programme.

  2. Israel has made it a severely punishable heresy to equate anything Nazi with Israeli behaviour vis-à-vis the Palestinians. Politicians, pundits, and journalists put their careers at great risk if they dare to do it. But I’ll wager there isn’t anyone, after 5 minutes of serious thought about the occupation, who hasn’t been reminded of Nazis and Jews. But it takes a Henry Siegman to articulate it in public. His Nation article reminded me of this passage from scholar Sara Roy:

    “Within the Jewish community it has always been considered a form of heresy to compare Israeli actions or policies with those of the Nazis, and certainly one must be very careful in doing so. But what does it mean when Israeli soldiers paint identification numbers on Palestinian arms; when young Palestinian men and boys of a certain age are told through Israeli loudspeakers to gather in the town square; when Israeli soldiers openly admit to shooting Palestinian children for sport; when some of the Palestinian dead must be buried in mass graves while the bodies of others are left in city streets and camp alleyways because the army will not allow proper burial; when certain Israeli officials and Jewish intellectuals publicly call for the destruction of Palestinian villages in retaliation for suicide bombings, or for the transfer of the Palestinian population out of the West Bank and Gaza; when 46 per cent of the Israeli public favours such transfers and when transfer or expulsion becomes a legitimate part of popular discourse; when government officials speak of the ‘cleansing of the refugee camps’, and when a leading Israeli intellectual calls for hermetic separation between Israelis and Palestinians in the form of a Berlin Wall, caring not whether the Palestinians on the other side of the wall may starve to death as a result?” (Sara Roy, “Save Your Outrage for the End.” Index On Censorship 32:3 (2OO3): 204—213.)

  3. No, John Kerry is not anti-Semite or anti-Jewish.. Arabs are Semites, too. The Israelis do themselves harm by treating the Palestinians so cruelly as they steal their land and water. It appears that anyone who does not praise Israel is called “anti-Semite”. The accusation has been made so often for the slightest mention of Israel’s bad conduct that it is no longer taken seriously.

  4. Boteach, despised by his New Jersey neighbors, like Netanyahu constantly uses the ‘anti-semite’ mantra for virtually anything that might shed any negative light on Israel. Their apartheid practices in what is essentially a theocratic state, is analagous to the same Nazi behavior fostered upon the Jewish people during the second world war. He, along with Abrams, have done more damage to the Jewish people than almost any one else in the USA.

  5. Being called “anti-Semitic” of ten means having offered good advice to Israel.

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