John Kerry
Credit: U.S. State Department/Flickr

There are plenty of American politicians who have an incentive to demonstrate strong support for Israel, but only a small handful who have much, if any, incentive to support the settler movement there. So, it doesn’t surprise me that some politicians get upset (or pretend to, anyway) when the United States government acts in ways that displease the Israeli government, but it seems like the specifics are almost wholly irrelevant. Over in Europe, our allies loved John Kerry’s speech condemning Benjamin Netanyahu for his cowardice and lack of leadership in confronting the settlers.

In France, Britain and Germany, Mr. Kerry’s speech was greeted with more full-throated support. Senator Nathalie Goulet, vice president of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the French Senate, said Mr. Kerry “is right, he is absolutely right.”

“The more there are settlements,” she said, “the less it is likely there will be a two-state solution. But nobody ever dares condemn Israel. There is a double standard that nourishes the propaganda of the terrorists.”

In a statement, the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, praised Mr. Kerry’s speech as a “passionate and deeply convincing” defense of “the only credible way” to solve the issue: a two-state solution.

British officials said they regarded Mr. Kerry’s speech as a thoughtful summary of longstanding British and European concerns about the direction of Israeli politics.

Here at home, however, the reaction was mostly negative.

I’m not exactly sure why American politics is so stupid about Israel. But it is.

You can oppose the settlers precisely because you support Israel and don’t want to see it end in ruin, as neither secure, nor prosperous, nor democratic, nor Jewish. This possibility isn’t really considered in our discourse, though, even when the president and Secretary of State come right out and articulate it.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at