Saturday, April 25, 2015

John Kerry's State Dept. Silent on Israel's Independence Day

    Despite issuing statements commemorating the National Days or Independence Days of nearly 170 countries in the past twelve months, Secretary of State John Kerry allowed the 67th anniversary of the establishment of the nation of Israel to pass without comment. This is the third year in a row Kerry has failed to officially recognize Israel's Independence Day. Kerry's predecessor, Hillary Clinton, issued statements noting the occasion during the last two years of her tenure, 2011 and 2012.
    At the White House, President Obama this year missed marking the day with a statement for only the second time in his presidency. Vice President Biden, however, did attend an Israeli Independence Day Celebration at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington Thursday night. (President Obama was at the Ritz Carlton Hotel to deliver remarks and answers questions at an Organizing for Action dinner.)
    Earlier this month, THE WEEKLY STANDARD reported that during Kerry's tenure, the State Department has tended to overlook Christian and Jewish occasions in favor of Islamic holidays and those of other faiths. (In the meantime, Kerry did recognize Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, this year on April 16.) For that story, a senior State Department official commented that the "State Department and White House work together to address national days and religious holidays to share the sentiments and best wishes of the American people." It is unclear why neither the State Department nor the White House marked Israel's 67th anniversary with official statements.
    In the past twelve months, Kerry has released official remarks on the National Days of countries such as Uganda, Somalia, Burkina Faso and even China's 65th year as the Communist Peoples Republic of China. Last July, Kerry congratulated Venezuela on the 203rd anniversary of that country's independence.
     Notably, shortly before Israel's Independence Day in 2014, Kerry issued a sharply worded statement excoriating those who questioned his support for Israel, saying that he "walked the walk when it came time to vote and ... fight" for Israel. Kerry had been quoted in a Daily Beast report as saying Israel was at risk of becoming "an apartheid state" if Middle East peace talks failed. Although Kerry said he should have "chosen a different word", he declared, "I will not allow my commitment to Israel to be questioned by anyone, particularly for partisan, political purposes[.]"
    About a week later on May 6, 2014, the White House released a statement commemorating Israel's Independence Day. Kerry, who met with European Union High Representative Lady Catherine Ashton, had no words on Israel in his only public remarks on that day.
    On this year's anniversary, Kerry made a statement on Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) Day; made remarks on Take Your Child to Work Day at the State Department; spoke on Renewing U.S. Leadership Through Economic Strength, and recorded a video greeting for Climate Partners. The 67th anniversary of the independence of the state of Israel, however, passed unnoticed.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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