It Depends on What the Meaning of “Undivided” Is

Barack Obama’s speech at AIPAC read well. He sounded like a hard-liner on Middle East issues generally. The question, of course, was how much he meant it.

It didn’t take long for Obama’s Republican-sounding facade to start to crumble. Within 24 hours after the speech, his aides were starting to back off. The Jerusalem Post reports:

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama did not rule out Palestinian sovereignty over parts of Jerusalem when he called for Israel’s capital to remain “undivided,” his campaign told The Jerusalem Post Thursday.

“Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided,” Obama declared Wednesday, to rousing applause from the 7,000-plus attendees at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference.

But a campaign adviser clarified Thursday that Obama believes “Jerusalem is a final status issue, which means it has to be negotiated between the two parties” as part of “an agreement that they both can live with.”

“Two principles should apply to any outcome,” which the adviser gave as: “Jerusalem remains Israel’s capital and it’s not going to be divided by barbed wire and checkpoints as it was in 1948-1967.”

He refused, however, to rule out other configurations, such as the city also serving as the capital of a Palestinian state or Palestinian sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods.

So Jerusalem would be “undivided,” with part of it being the capital of Israel and part being the capital of “Palestine.” Sure, that makes perfect sense. Nothing “divided” about that.

Obama isn’t an idiot, so I may have to dissent from Scott’s generous suggestion that Obama “may not be an unusually cynical politician.”

PAUL adds: I think Obama got into trouble here in part because of his cynical desire to tell the AIPAC audience what it wanted to hear, but also in part because he didn’t really understand the issue.

Many Republicans are happy that Obama is the nominee because they see him as a relatively weak candidate. They are probably correct in their assessment of his candidacy. But they nonetheless should be dismayed that someone who is simulataneously this unprincipled and this clueless finds himself within orating distance of the presidency.

JOHN agrees: It’s true; I wonder whether any major party has ever nominated a candidate as ignorant of the major issues of the day as Obama. I don’t think the Obama phenomenon can be understood outside the context of the phalanx of media people who run interference for him, and will continue to do so no matter how clearly his ignorance may be revealed.

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