Istanbul, Turkey - Kerry Criticized For Likening Mavi Marmara Victims To Boston Attack
Istanbul, Turkey - US Secretary of State John Kerry compared the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing to the nine Turkish activists killed by the IDF as they tried to break Gaza’s naval blockade, at a press conference in Istanbul on Sunday.
“I know it’s an emotional issue with some people,” Kerry said of the Mavi Marmara deaths. “I particularly say to the families of people who were lost in the incident: We understand these tragedies completely and we sympathize with them.”
He then added, “And nobody – I mean, I have just been through the week of Boston and I have deep feelings for what happens when you have violence and something happens and you lose people that are near and dear to you. It affects a community, it affects a country,” Kerry said. “We’re very sensitive to that.”
Senior Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom, Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, and Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin all made a point of not responding to Kerry’s comparison on Monday.
High-ranking diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said they believed Kerry was misunderstood and he was really only trying to show empathy with the people of Turkey on a national level. The officials accused the press of deliberately trying to twist what Kerry had said.
But Knesset members from across the political spectrum condemned Kerry’s comparison and said they found it extremely offensive.
Since the 2010 raid, Israel has released video footage showing activists beating the soldiers with metal sticks and chairs as they descended onto the boat. The IDF said that metal rods, improvised sharp metal objects, sticks and clubs, 5 kg. hammers, firebombs and gas masks were found on board the boat.
It said that these weapons were used against the naval soldiers and that seven soldiers were injured. It added that activists had also taken two pistols from the soldiers.
The relatives of the nine Turkish activists, including one dual American citizen, have argued that their loved ones were killed in cold blood as they sailed to offer humanitarian assistance to the people in Gaza.
The three victims of the bombing in Boston were killed last week after two brothers with ties to Chechnya exploded two bombs at the finish line of the America’s oldest marathon. The victims had gone to watch a race that attracts athletes from across the United States and around the globe. Among the 176 people injured were runners who used the marathon to raise money for humanitarian causes.
“He completely distorted reality and turned white into black and black into white,” said Labor MK Nachman Shai. “How can he make such a comparison? In Boston, terrorists killed civilians. On the Mavi Marmara ship, terrorists were killed.”
Bayit Yehudi faction chairwoman Ayelet Shaked went further, saying that Kerry mixed up the assailants and the victims.
“According to what Kerry said, he should fly now to Chechnya to pay a condolence call to the parents of the poor terrorists in Boston,” Shaked said.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, who in the past would have been the first to slam the Obama administration, continued his trend of more measured responses since he was appointed to his new post.
“It is never helpful when a moral equivalency is made confusing terrorists with their victims,” Danon said.
“As our American friends were made all too aware once again last week, the only way to deal with the evils of terrorism it to wage an unrelenting war against its perpetrators wherever they may be.”
Meanwhile, The Republican Jewish Coalition strongly objected Kerry’s remarks, RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, “Secretary Kerry should retract these remarks as soon as possible. It’s unconscionable to compare the loss of life resulting from an act of self-defense to the results of cold-blooded, premeditated murder by terrorists.”
Brooks added, “We understand that Secretary Kerry has reason to be deeply worried by the disappointing results to date from the President’s push to end the rift between Israel and Turkey. But he needs to correct the record so that our allies and critics around the world don’t get the idea that the world’s most powerful democracy has lost its moral bearings.”
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