ABC, CBS, and NBC's morning newscasts have yet to report about the bilateral squabble between the Obama administration and Israel over Secretary of State John Kerry's warning on Saturday that the U.S. ally faces "an increasing delegitimization campaign that has been building up....There are talks of boycotts and other kinds of things."
The war of words comes days after actress Scarlett Johansson ended her eight-year affiliation with Oxfam due to their opposition to Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Johansson appeared in a Super Bowl ad for SodaStream, a company based in Israel that runs a large facility on the West Bank. On Monday, CNN anchor Michaela Pereira devoted a news brief on New Day to Kerry's remark and the Israeli government's reaction: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
MICHAELA PEREIRA: Harsh words for John Kerry from the Israelis – two high-ranking cabinet ministers accusing the secretary of state of trying to undermine Israel's legitimacy. Those comments coming after Kerry warned Jerusalem it was facing the threat of an international boycott because of its West Bank settlements. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling any attempt to boycott Israel 'unmoral and unjust.'
On Sunday, Isabel Kershner of the New York Times reported that "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and some of his senior ministers on Sunday strongly criticized groups who are threatening a boycott of Israel over its policies toward the Palestinians. Their remarks were a sharp retort to Secretary of State John Kerry, who warned a day earlier that the risk of boycotts would intensify should the current Middle East peace effort fail." Kershner included excerpts from Netanyahu's response:
"Attempts to impose a boycott on the state of Israel are immoral and unjust," Mr. Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting here. "Moreover," he continued, "they will not achieve their goal. First, they cause the Palestinians to adhere to their intransigent positions and thus push peace further away. Second, no pressure will cause me to concede the vital interests of the state of Israel, especially the security of Israel's citizens. For both of these reasons, threats to boycott the state of Israel will not achieve their goal."
Israel's minister of strategic affairs, Yuval Steinitz, was more direct in his criticism of Mr. Kerry. He told Israel Radio on Sunday that Mr. Kerry’s remarks were "hurtful," "unfair" and "intolerable" and added, "Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with a gun to its head."
Besides Netanyahu and Steinitz, Israel's economy minister, Naftali Bennett, rebuked Secretary Kerry in a Facebook post on Saturday: "Let's make clear to all those giving advice: A nation has not been born – including us – that will give up its land because of economic threats. The Jewish people is stronger than the threats against it."
Pro-Palestinian activists have had SodaStream in their sights for some time. Almost a year earlier, NPR's Morning Edition program boosted the "international boycott movement" against the Israeli company without mentioning the left-wing ideology of the organizations behind it. Correspondent Larry Abramson merely described the boycott organizers as "supporters of Palestinian rights." Abramson also featured a soundbite of a December 2012 anti-SodaStream protest in Boston, but failed to mention that the demonstration was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, whose advisory board includes far-left notables such as Noam Chomsky, Eve Ensler, and Tony Kushner.