Those who doubted the wisdom of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s apology to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in March had their first “I told you so” moment the very next day. Speaking to Turkish reporters, Erdogan appeared to immediately backtrack on his end of the rapprochement, which included dropping the case against the Israel Defense Forces for defending themselves from the Turkish-supported flotilla activists seeking to violently crash the naval blockade of the terrorist group Hamas.
A successful normalization of relations between Israel and Turkey would be beneficial to regional stability, so Netanyahu presumably offered the apology fully aware of the risks of dealing with Erdogan and believing they were outweighed by the rewards. But one of the reasons some opposed the apology at all was because they understandably feared it would legitimize the status of victimhood claimed by the violent invaders and endorse a frightful moral relativism which already undermines Israel’s attempts to defend itself.
But the moral relativism between the IDF and the armed naval invaders, while unfortunate, is fully eclipsed by the offensive and indefensible moral relativism Secretary of State John Kerry offered this weekend in trying to soothe Erdogan’s ego. According to the Associated Press:
Kerry said he understood the anger and frustration of those Turks who lost friends and family in the raid. The former Massachusetts senator said last week’s Boston Marathon bombings made him acutely aware of the emotions involved.
“It affects the community, it affects the country. But going forward, you know, we have to find the best way to bring people together and undo these tensions and undo these stereotypes and try to make peace,” he said.
This was always a concern about putting Kerry in charge of diplomacy. Kerry possesses neither principle nor expertise, and so the odds of him saying something both daft and morally bankrupt are always high. Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon no doubt spoke for many in Israel when he responded:
“It is never helpful when a moral equivalency is made confusing terrorists with their victims,” Danon told The Times of Israel. “As our American friends were made all too aware once again last week, the only way to deal with the evils of terrorism [is] to wage an unrelenting war against its perpetrators wherever they may be,” he said.
The armed Turkish invaders Kerry has developed such sympathy for were on a ship funded by a terrorist organization with ties to Hamas and other jihadist groups seeking to challenge Israel’s navy in order to help Hamas. If they were victims at all, it was of their own violent ideology. Though we don’t know yet what motivated the Tsarnaev brothers to perpetrate the monstrous bombing they are believed to have carried out and the additional ones law enforcement officials believe they were planning, the biographical picture beginning to emerge paints at least the elder of the two as “increasingly militant” in his Muslim faith.
But whether the Tsarnaevs were inspired by Islamic radicalism at all is beside the point in the case of Kerry’s comments. The victims in Boston were victims of a brutal and murderous attack; the “victims” to whom Kerry compared them were in the act of carrying out their own attack. Kerry’s comments also put Israelis trying to contain a terrorist enclave next door on the same moral plane as those terrorists and their allies.
Perhaps Kerry misspoke. If not, his worldview is warped, dangerous, and dishonorable. The same administration officials who nudged Netanyahu to apologize to Erdogan should pay a visit to Kerry. The secretary of state owes a round of apologies thanks to his inauspicious start as America’s chief diplomat.