In God We Trust

Netanyahu to Kerry: We're in 'Battle of Civilization Against Barbarism'


By Bridget Johnson

Secretary of State John Kerry met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today in Jerusalem, declaring before their sit-down that "no people anywhere should live with daily violence, with attacks in the streets, with knives or scissors or cars."

In brief remarks before a closed-door meeting, Netanyahu reminded Kerry that they're in a "battle of civilization against barbarism."

"There can be no peace when we have an onslaught of terror – not here, not anywhere else in the world, which is experiencing this same assault by militant Islamists and the forces of terror," Netanyahu said. "Israel is fighting these forces every hour. We’re fighting them directly against the terrorists themselves. We’re fighting also against the sources of incitement. And we believe that the entire international community should support this effort. It’s not only our battle; it’s everyone’s battle."

Kerry called it a "very troubling" time in Israel.

"And it is very clear to us that the terrorism – these acts of terrorism which have been taking place – have deserved the condemnation that they are receiving. And today, I expressed my complete condemnation for any act of terror that takes innocent lives and disrupts the day-to-day life of a nation. Israel has every right in the world to defend itself and it has an obligation to defend itself, and it will and it is," Kerry said.

The secretary of State added that "regrettably, several Americans have also been killed in the course of these past weeks."

"And just yesterday, I talked to the family of Ezra Schwartz from Massachusetts, a young man who came here out of high school ready to go to college, excited about his future. And yesterday, his family was sitting at Shiva and I talked to them and heard their feelings, the feelings of any parent who lost their child," he said.

It was the first time Kerry talked about the Thursday death of Schwartz at the hands of a Palestinian terrorist. The State Department said Kerry first contacted the family Monday.

Schwartz was a gap-year student attending Yeshivat Ashreinu in Beit Shemesh. He was in a van with five other friends taking food to IDF soldiers Thursday near the Gush Etzion junction when a Palestinian terrorist opened fire on cars stuck in traffic. The terrorist then rammed his car into another vehicle and was arrested.

Yaakov Don, 49, a teacher and father of four, and Palestinian Shadi Arafeh, 24, of Hebron were also killed in the attack.

The White House has issued no statement on the 18-year-old's murder.

Kerry said he wanted to talk with Netanyahu "about the ways that we can work together – all of us in the international community – to push back against terrorism, to push back against senseless violence, and to find a way forward to restore calm and to begin to provide the opportunities that most reasonable people in every part of the world are seeking for themselves and for their families."

"...We all have an interest, needless to say, in working together against this spasm of violence that is interrupting too much of the daily life of too many nations."

In a separate meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Kerry called the attacks on Schwartz and other victims "a challenge to all civilized people."

"And we all have a responsibility to condemn that violence, to make it clear that no frustration, no politics, no ideology, no emotion justifies taking innocent lives," Kerry said.