I guess one part of American politics that Barack Obama doesn’t want to change is the tradition of campaign obfuscation. Wednesday he worried liberals with his Jerusalem-must-not-be-divided speech. Now he’s angered hawks again with this “clarification”:
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.
“Beyond those principles, all other aspects are for the two parties to agree at final status negotiations,” the Obama adviser said.
Many on the right of the political spectrum among America’s Jews welcomed Obama’s remarks at AIPAC, but the clarification of his position left several cold.
“The Orthodox Union is extremely disappointed in this revision of Senator Obama’s important statement about Jerusalem,” said Nathan Diament, director of public policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations. He had sent out a release Wednesday applauding Obama’s Jerusalem remarks in front of AIPAC.
“In the current context, everyone understands that saying ‘Jerusalem… must remain undivided’ means that the holy city must remain unified under Israeli rule, as it has been since 1967,” Diament explained.
“If Senator Obama intended his remarks at AIPAC to be understood in this way, he said nothing that would reasonably lead to such a different interpretation.”
Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America and another Jewish activist who had originally lauded Obama’s statement, now called the candidate’s words “troubling.”
“It means he used the term inappropriately, possibly to mislead strong supporters of Israel that he supports something he doesn’t really believe,” Klein charged.