JERUSALEM, Israel -- More than a few people took issue with Secretary of State John Kerry's comparison of the victims of last week's terror bombing in Boston to pro-Palestinian jihadists aboard the Turkish-owned flagship Mavi Marmara.
The ship, which set sail in May 2010 to break the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, was redirected to the Israeli port of Ashdod, but not before a confrontation with IDF navy commandos left nine activists dead.
Speaking at a press conference in Istanbul Sunday, ostensibly on behalf of the Obama administration, Kerry compared the families of the nine activists killed aboard the flagship with the victims of the terror attack in Boston and their families.
Kerry said, "…we understand these tragedies completely," in essence comparing the victims of terrorism with terrorists.
"I know it's an emotional issue with some people. I particularly say to the families of people who were lost in the incident we understand these tragedies completely and we sympathize with them," Kerry continued, with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at his side.
"And nobody -- I mean, I have just been through the week of Boston and I have deep feelings for what happens when you have violence and something happens and you lose people that are near and dear to you. It affects a community, it affects a country. We're very sensitive to that," he said.
Israeli media quoted a few MKs responses to the remarks, but most senior ministers -- from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on down -- had no comment for the press, especially with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in Israel to close important military arms deals.
Particularly poignant was MK Ayelet Shaked's response, quoted by the Jerusalem Post.
"According to what Kerry said, he should fly now to Chechnya to pay a condolence call to the parents of the poor terrorists in Boston," she commented.
What about the victims of last week's attack in Boston? How would they feel about being compared with ax-wielding jihadists who beat soldiers bloody as they attempted to peacefully redirect the ship from Gaza to the port at Ashdod? The soldiers intended to use paintball guns, if necessary, but they wound up having to defend their lives or be killed.
Later, a sizable stash of weapons were found aboard ship, including night-vision goggles, flares, bulletproof vests, gas masks, knives, axes, wooden and metal clubs, and dozens of slingshots. It would seem humanitarian aid for the residents of Gaza may not have been the jihadists primary mission.
For two years, Israel refused to apologize for the incident, repeatedly restating what led up to the confrontation. But nothing Israel had to say was sufficient for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
On the last day of President Obama's visit to Israel in March, he apparently convinced Netanyahu to meet Erdogan's demands.
In point of fact, Netanyahu apologized for "operational errors" that may have led to the activists' deaths. Erdogan ran with it, upping the ante for compensation and demanding an end to the naval blockade before he would resume diplomatic relations with Israel.