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Kerry’s ‘Hebrew Lessons’:

John Kerry met with top American Jewish leaders on February 28 to reassure them of his support for Israel–which had been soft since 2002 but has suddenly become rock-solid. On December 3, he had suggested Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, or James Baker as possible Middle East envoys even though the latter two slant pro-Arab. Lawrence Kaplan in the New Republic reports in the May 10 issue on the meeting:

“Not long after leaving the room, however, the sentiment, at least among some of the attendees, began to shift. It did so because one of the first things Kerry did at the meeting was to blame his aides for the mention of Carter and Baker as possible envoys in his December speech–a claim that several participants double-checked as soon as they walked out the door. The names, Kerry said, had been inserted by mistake, and he had even asked that they be removed. The problem is, in the speech itself, Kerry said, ‘There are a number of uniquely qualified Americans among whom I would consider appointing, including President Carter. … And, I might add, I have had conversations with both President Clinton and President Carter about their willingness to do this.’ Kerry spokesperson Stephanie Cutter even confirmed to The Boston Globe in December that he had spoken with Carter. Today, the campaign offers this explanation: The candidate eventually did speak with Carter–but only after noticing that a draft of his speech said that he spoke with Carter.”

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