Obama on Jerusalem — dishonest, ignorant, or both

As with virtually every other issue of consequence, Barack Obama has failed to take a consistent, coherent position with respect to his goal for the city of Jerusalem. A few months ago, when he was pandering to the pro-Israel audience at AIPAC, Obama said that Jerusalem should remain “undivided.” For those with a basic understanding of the discourse on this issue, the meaning of his statement was clear — Jerusalem will remain the Jewish people’s historical capital city and will remain exclusively part of the Jewish state under any future agreement with the Palestinians.

Obama, moreover, had plenty of incentive to convey this position to the AIPAC convention. Indeed, any other descripton of the future of Jerusalem would have played poorly with an audience Obama very much wanted to impress.

However, Obama’s handlers were uncomfortable with Obama’s statement because the call for an undivided city might “prejudice” the “final status” of Jerusalem. The party line among mainstream advocates of the “peace process” is to call on Israel and the Palestinians negotiate without such preconditions, with the “final status” of Jerusalem to be resolved at the end of the process.

With the AIPAC convention behind him, Obama has fallen back to the party line. Attempting to “clarify” his “poorly phrased” remarks to the pro-Israel crowd, Obama now says:

The point we were simply making was that we don’t want barbed wire running through Jerusalem, similar to the way it was prior to the ’67 war, that it is possible for us to create a Jerusalem that is cohesive and coherent. I was not trying to predetermine what are essentially final-status issues.

But that is an easy point to make. If this is what Obama wanted to convey to AIPAC, it’s difficult to believe he would have used the loaded term “undivided.”

But what of Obama’s current vision under which Mr. Yes-We-Can resolves to “create a Jerusalem that is cohesive and coherent” that it is not exclusively part of a Jewish state but requires no barriers? The question answers itself. Here’s how David Hazony, a resident of Jerusalem, puts it:

What could it possibly mean to want a “coherent” city that is the capital of two different countries, one of which has been teaching its entire population to hate the other and commit suicide bombings in its restaurants for 15 years now — and all this without a proper border? I live in Jerusalem. The border between Israel and the Palestinians, wherever it may run, and no matter how long peace reigns, will never be like that between Massachusetts and Connecticut. It is unlikely ever even to be like the one between Arizona and Mexico. If there is ever a division of Jerusalem, there will be more than just barbed wire separating the two halves of the city. We are talking about different worlds entirely, and security arrangements will reflect this.

As Hazony concludes, Obama either understands this or he doesn’t. If he does, he is being dishonest when he claim the city can be undivided in other than the sense in which his AIPAC remarks were construed. If he doesn’t, his ignorance is staggering.

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