Israel: Obama’s Wedge Issue

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Less than 100 days before the US presidential elections, the Obama administration is openly denying Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem. Can this be a vote-getter?

Last week, the Emergency Committee for Israel released an ad titled, “O, Jerusalem.” The commercial showed administration officials squirming when asked to name the capital of Israel, and highlighted the recent refusals of White House and State Department spokespeople to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city. The underlying message of the ad was that the administration’s policy is out of step with the views of the majority of Americans.

Barack Obama’s position is certainly a political outlier. The 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, passed nearly unanimously by both houses of Congress, explicitly stated that it is the policy of the United States that Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel. The law granted the president a right to postpone the transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on national security grounds. But the law’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was unconditional.

During his visit to Israel earlier this week, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney highlighted the fact that he holds the consensus view of the American public on Jerusalem.

In his speech in Jerusalem on Sunday afternoon, Romney said simply, “It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.”

The Palestinians were predictably enraged.

Also predictably, the Palestinians chastised Romney for another statement he made that was equally rooted in America’s bipartisan consensus.

Romney noted that other things being equal, cultures that uphold and protect political and economic freedoms are more prosperous than cultures that don’t.

In a breakfast meeting with American supporters in Jerusalem on Monday, Romney noted that Israel’s per capita income is significantly higher than the per capital income of Palestinians in areas governed by the Palestinian Authority, just as per capita income in the US is higher than per capita income in Mexico, and per capita income in Chile is higher than per capita income in Ecuador.

It is hard to think of a milder criticism of Palestinian society than Romney’s comparison of the Palestinian economy to the economies of Mexico and Ecuador. Romney could easily have gone much further without ever leaving the confines of received wisdom. For instance, he could have mentioned – as Obama did in his speech in Cairo in June 2009 – that Muslim societies under-invest in education relative to non-Muslim societies.

Or he could have highlighted – as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton often did during her tenure in the US Senate – that official Palestinian institutions indoctrinate Palestinian children in a culture of death, teach them to hate Jews and aspire to become suicide bombers in a jihad aimed at Israel’s physical eradication.

It was predictable that the Palestinians would condemn Romney for his run of the mill support for Israel and his milquetoast criticism of the Palestinians, because they reject every criticism of their behavior and take umbrage at every step anyone takes that suggests acceptance of the Jewish state or recognition of Jewish history.

This behavior is common to all groups in Palestinian society, from Hamas to Fatah to the so-called liberal reformers. In line with this, while Hamas condemned visits to Auschwitz as helping “Israel to spread the lie of the Holocaust… and garner international sympathy… at the expense of the Palestinians,” the supposedly moderate, liberal Palestinian for Dignity organization condemned the EU for upgrading its trade ties with Israel.

The EU is the largest financial backer of the PA. Its policies towards Israel are in complete alignment with what the purportedly moderate Palestinians claim they want in a peace deal with Israel, including the partition of Jerusalem, and the expulsion of 600,000 Jews from Judea and Samaria and the neighborhoods built outside of the 1949 armistice lines in Jerusalem. And yet, as Shoshana Bryen from the Jewish Policy Center reported, for simply upgrading EU trade ties with Israel, Palestinian for Dignity announced its members “will organize to protest the latest manifestation of EU complicity and to challenge its presence and operations in Palestine.”

Given the routine nature of Palestinian hysteria at Romney, and the bipartisan consensus upon which Romney’s remarks were based, there was no reason either his remarks or the Palestinians’ response to his remarks would spark any controversy in the US. Indeed, given the fact that both US law and the majority of Americans respect Israel’s determination that Jerusalem is its capital city, it could have been taken for granted that Obama would keep his head down and hope to avoid further discussion of the issue.

Certainly, given that he had made statements similar to – indeed stronger than – Romney’s statements about cultural causes for economic prosperity, it could have been assumed that Obama and his surrogates would have disregarded PA spokesman Saeb Erekat’s ridiculous characterization of Romney’s statement as “racist.”

Given that it is election season, and then-candidate Obama’s stated support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2008, the Obama administration could reasonably have made its own endorsement of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.

But amazingly, the Obama administration has taken the opposite tack. Obama and his media surrogates seized on the Palestinians’ criticism of Romney as proof that by embracing the American consensus on Israel, Romney had committed an unforgivable diplomatic faux pas.

First there was the White House’s statement Monday on Jerusalem. Rather than keeping quiet, Obama doubled down. In a press briefing, White House deputy spokesman Josh Earnest not only refused to acknowledge that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. He drew attention to the difference between Romney’s position and the administration’s and denied that Israel has a capital.

In Earnest’s words, “Our view is that [Romney’s position that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital] is a different position than this administration holds. It’s the view of this administration that the capital should be determined in final-status negotiations between parties.”

At the same time, Obama’s media surrogates have focused their wrath on Romney’s statement about the cultural sources of economic prosperity.

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  • Matt McLaughlin

    If the GOP desired a Zionist for its nomination for President, it screwed up. Mitt's not Zionist. Check his credentials. The Mormon church's most used phrase for the Israeli/non-Israeli conflict is, '…we don't take sides'. Catholics, many Muslims and Ronn Paul want Jerusalem international. Its obvious Bibi needs to get this Iran existential threat going or Israel will be plum out of the victim business. Then what will all the GOP jr executives and FOX NEWS do then?

  • Schlomotion

    Note to self: It is now "anti-semitic" to object to politicians pandering to big donors and who are are willing to sacrifice US interests in exchange for political cash.

    • Kufar Dawg

      I agree the way in which Carter and the Clintonistas have sold out human rights and liberty to appease their islamofascist masters for petrodollars is disgusting.

      • rulieg



          Bowing to saudi kings, blocking the Keystone pipeline to keep the US dependent on Saudi/ME oil.

  • IsraelFirster

    Note to self. Stop reading Shlomotion's drivel first thing in the morning,

    • intrcptr2

      Or last thing at night, yes?

  • alwaysisforever

    Great writing and exactly spot on truthful by Caroline. We always know when a position is truthful and correct when idiots like McLauglin et al. above protest with silly little comments.

  • kafir4life

    Cheesy Chuck (you) Schumer wouldn't answer the question either.

  • Michael Garfinkel

    Caroline Glick's analysis is absolutely correct, as usual. She truly is a lioness, isn't she?

    I am heartened by her courage and her eloquence, as I am by other writers whose insights into this and related issues appear on Frontpagemagazine.

    However, I do marvel at Caroline's perseverance, given the problems she so brilliantly highlights:
    a Tsunami of Jew hatred in the Muslim world and on the Left, (including the Democrat party), and the endless Fifth Column of Jews, like Tom Friedman and Rothkopf, who carry water for the anti-semites.

    Henry Kissinger wrote that as a young German Jew, he watched a military parade so vast, he could not imagine a war that Germany could lose.

    I can hardly imagine a struggle the Jewish people can win, given the magnitude of this Fifth Column.

    • Kufar Dawg

      The islamonazis and their useful tools said the same things in '48'. Maybe there's more to Israel's repeated
      success at defeating islamonazis than mere boots on the ground.

  • Michael Garfinkel

    Moreover, as Carolyn notes – "… for American Jews who are indifferent to Israel, the messages give them cover to vote for Obama without having to admit that they couldn’t care less about Israel." is equally disturbing, given that this attitude holds sway for most of the Jewish electorate.

    These are becoming the worst of times.

    • Kufar Dawg

      I wonder if the rising tide of anti-semitism concomitant w/that of islamofascism in Europe/Eurabia might not change their mind? A rising tide that will be coming to the US, if not already here.

  • Flowerknife_us

    Someone is just remembering the fond memories of their Islamic upbringing at those tender-formative years in ones life. They are just in the position to make memories a reality.

    • rulieg

      yes…one of the reasons that Rashid Khalidi videotape would be so instructive. you know the one: the farewell dinner for Rashid and Mona, close friends of Barack and Michelle, at which Barack apparently told the friendly crowd how he REALLY felt about the Jews.

      yeah…I'd give a lot of money to see that one on the nightly news.

  • Kufar Dawg

    The PA wants "the expulsion of 600,000 Jews from Judea and Samaria"? I think there's been enough muslo-fascist ethnic cleansing of Jews from the Mid-East and N. Africa over the last 65 years, to say nothing of Christians, Bahais and Druze. Oops, but I just did, I'm bad.

  • Michael

    I was confused over the September invite for Muhammad Mursi, but now I think I get it. Obama won't lose votes and if he can get some white folks to act scary, he can motivate the left who so far, are unenthusiastic over this election.