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John Kerry's brother has responded to charges of anti-Semitism against the U.S. Secretary of State by some conservative Israelis — including a prominent minister — by writing publicly about the family’s Jewish roots.
Cameron Kerry wrote a column in Israel's largest circulation daily newspaper, Yediot, saying the accusations “would be ridiculous if they were not so vile.”
The move illustrates how seriously the State Department wants to rebut the charge of anti-Semitism by some conservative Israeli critics of the Secretary of State’s peace negotiations.
Earlier this month, members of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet accused Kerry of endorsing "anti-Semitic" efforts to impose sanctions on Israel when he voiced concern that failure to reach a peace accord with the Palestinians could lead to economic boycotts.
"The risks are very high for Israel," Kerry said after a meeting with his Iranian counterpart in Munich on Feb. 2.
Naftali Bennett, the industry minister, was among several high-placed officials who responded to Kerry's comments.
"We expect of our friends in the world to stand by our side against the attempts to impose an anti-Semitic boycott on Israel, and not to be their mouthpiece," he said.
John Kerry said it was a "revelation" when he learned in 2003 from a Boston Globe report, shortly before he ran for president, that his grandfather changed his family name from Kohn and converted to Catholicism before coming to the U.S. in 1905.
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Cameron Kerry married a Jewish woman and the family are practicing Jews. He writes that their relatives were killed in the Nazi death camps.
Kerry’s story echoes that of Czech -born Madeleine Albright, who learned her family was Jewish from a Washington Post story when she was being confirmed as Secretary of State in 1997.
“There is no truth and no good that can come by calling into question John Kerry's good faith toward his own heritage,” Cameron Kerry concluded in his column, a translation of which was posted on the U.S. Embassy’s Facebook page. “Israel and the Jewish people deserve better than that.”