As Ed described this morning, Secretary of State John Kerry remarked behind closed doors last week that Israel is at risk of becoming an “apartheid state” unless it gets moving on meeting Palestinians’ demands for peace and a two-state solution — and Kerry is coming under all kinds of fire for the comments. Pro-Israel groups are none too pleased:

NJDC reaffirms the importance of the State of Israel as the Jewish state and as a critical ally to the United States.  We remain grateful for the support of the Administration and Congress.  That support is important not just because Israel represents a continuation of the resistance to the evil of anti-semitism, but because of the values of democracy and human rights shared with America.

For that reason, we express our deep disappointment that the Secretary of State has chosen to invoke the specter of “apartheid” in discussing his concerns about the failing peace process.  We reject entirely that racially-based governance inherent in that word in any way describes Israel, as well as the implication that the government of Israel uses such prejudice to formalize disadvantages for any of its citizens or neighbors.  It is surprising that Secretary Kerry would use this term and he should apologize and eschew the use of that formulation in the future.

Nor are many members of Congress, and on Monday afternoon, Sen. Ted Cruz called for Kerry’s resignation:

“I was convinced that as Secretary of State John Kerry would place what he considered to be the wishes of the international community above the national security interests of the United States. I fear with these most-recent ill-chosen remarks, Secretary Kerry has proven those concerns well founded,” Cruz said in a floor speech. “Secretary Kerry has thus proven himself unsuitable for his position and that before any further harm is done to our alliance with Israel, he should offer President Obama his resignation and the President should accept it.” …

“The term ‘apartheid’ means ‘apart’ — different, isolated — the state of the victims of apartheid with which the Jews are all too familiar. The notion that Israel would go down that path, and so face the same condemnation that met South Africa, is unconscionable,” Cruz said. “The fact that Secretary Kerry sees nothing wrong with making such a statement on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day demonstrates a shocking lack of sensitivity to the incendiary and damaging nature of his rhetoric.”

Krauthammer agrees:

It’s beyond nonsense, it’s pernicious and extremely harmful. What the Secretary of State of the United States has succeeded in doing, in what he thought was a private comment, is to echo and therefore to legitimize the worst of the libelous claims against the Jewish state. If there is one minority in the Middle East that enjoys the rule of law, and protection, and democracy it is Arabs in Israel. One out of every five Israelis is a Palestinian, overwhelming they are Muslim. There are Arabs in the government, in the Supreme Court, in all walks of life, in the universities.
There’s actually affirmative action if you are a Palestinian in the universities. And to compare that in anyway with the systematic discrimination against black Africans in South Africa is truly appalling and hurtful. I think Cruz is right, this is beyond something requiring a apology. I think this is a resigning type statement.