Moral Low Ground


“Hell of a Pinpoint Operation”: John Kerry’s ‘Hot Mic’ Remark On Israel’s Gaza Slaughter Raises Eyebrows

US Secretary of State John Kerry was caught voicing exasperated criticism of Israel’s bloody invasion of Gaza during ‘hot mic’ comments made between Sunday television interviews.

Apparently unaware that he was still being recorded, Kerry discussed Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, which has killed more than 400 Palestinians —the vast majority of them innocent civilians, including at least 76 children —with an aide.

Mocking claims by Israel that its forces operate with pinpoint precision when targeting militant Palestinian resistance fighters, mainly Hamas, who have launched thousands of crude rockets indiscriminately at the Jewish state, Kerry sardonically said: “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.”

“It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” he repeated before an aide on the phone notes that “it’s escalating significantly.”

“We’ve got to get over there,” Kerry said. “I think we ought to go tonight.”

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Kerry was confronted by host Chris Wallace over his ‘hot mic’ comments.

Wallace asked: “When you said it’s a hell of a pinpoint operation, are you upset that the Israelis are going too far?”

“It’s very difficult in these situations,” Kerry replied before reaffirming Washington’s line that Israel has a right to protect itself against Hamas rockets. “I reacted, obviously, in a way that anybody does in respect to young children and civilians [being killed].”

Some of the more than 60 innocent civilians killed during Israel's attack on the Shejaiyah neighborhood of Gaza City.

Some of the more than 60 innocent civilians killed during Israel’s attack on the Shejaiyah neighborhood of Gaza City.

The Obama administration found itself in minor damage control mode following Kerry’s ‘hot mic’ remarks. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki released the following statement:

Given the range of important global events we are not going to spend time litigating whether taping and playing Secretary Kerry’s private conversation was consistent with his publicly stated views on all five [Sunday talk] shows: Israel has the right to defend itself including against recent tunnel attacks, but he has encouraged [Israel] to not only take steps to prevent civilian casualties, but to take steps to de-escalate and we’re working together to achieve a ceasefire.

On Thursday, the Obama administration accused Israel of failing to do all it can to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza. But despite this minor criticism, and despite claims by some Israelis and many American conservatives that the Obama administration has not been a loyal ally of the Jewish state, the US remains Israel’s most staunch supporter in the world, providing an average of $3 billion in annual military aid, far more than any other nation receives.

The US also provides unwavering diplomatic support for Israel by vetoing United Nations resolutions condemning Israeli policies and actions, some of which have been described as ethnic cleansing by UN officials and apartheid by many prominent international critics, including former US President Jimmy Carter.

While it is extremely rare for sitting US politicians to criticize Israel, ‘hot mic’ remarks and leaks from closed-door meetings reveal that such criticism does occur. John Kerry recently warned that Israel could become “an apartheid state” if no two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is forthcoming.

In 2007, early in his presidential campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama told a small gathering of Democratic activists in Iowa that “nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.”

Obama’s remarks raised bipartisan eyebrows and ire in a nation where powerful pro-Israel lobby groups wield much power and where criticizing Israel is seen as the “third rail” of politics. Critics of Israel are often called “anti-Semites” and, if Jewish, “self-hating Jews.”

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