Obama's Inexperience, Naivete Show at AIPAC Conference
Presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama displayed the consequences of his foreign policy inexperience and naivete this week, as he furiously backpedled today from statements made earlier in the week at the American Israel Political Action Committee annual meeting in Washington D.C.
On Wednesday, Barack Obama committed that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided" in his speech before the AIPAC policy conference.
On Thursday, Barack Obama backtracked on this position and reversed it. Following criticism from Palestinian and Hamas officials, Barack Obama on Thursday announced in an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley that "obviously, it's going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be a part of these negotiations."
According to a "clarification" Thursday by a campaign advisor, as reported in the Jerusalem Post:
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.
Some attendees at the AIPAC conference expressed disapointment over this "clarification." The Jerusalem Post story relates:
"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, who also had initially lauded Obama's speech on Wednesday, similarly express disappointment.
Matt Brooks, President of the Republican Jewish Coalition, remarked, "Barack Obama's attempt to use buzzwords to impress pro-Israel leaders has already backfired. Barack Obama's reversal on Jerusalem, 24 hours after his AIPAC speech, demonstrates why the Jewish community has doubts and fears about an Obama presidency. Barack Obama's retreat demonstrates that Senator Obama lacks the resolve and leadership necessary to protect America and Israel from the serious threats we face. Worst of all, the impression that Barack Obama changed this position because of pressure by Hamas officials sends all the wrong messages that a President Obama will back off pro-Israel positions when Hamas protests. Yet again, Barack Obama demonstrates why the Jewish community does not trust Barack Obama to keep America and Israel safe and secure."
Let's be frank: Senator Obama, deeply concerned about the potential for a major shift in Jewish votes in favor of GOP Nominee John McCain, made a pandering, patronizing speech to AIPAC that included all of the buzz words and key phrases that his speechwriters told him would win over a Jewish audience. When the Palestinian Authority and Hamas predictably screamed in protest, joined by Obama's left-wing, anti-Israel support base, he responded with a vigorous moonwalk, moving quickly backward while trying his best to appear to still be walking in the original direction.
At least we now know the shelf life of a Barack Obama commitment to an important ally: about 24 hours.
In contrast, the American Jewish community knows that it can rely on consistency from Senator John McCain, because his support of Israel is solidly based on what should be the primary foreign policy concern of every American Presidential candidate--the security and strength of the United States of America.
Lowell adds: There's a slightly different view on James Taranto's Best of The Web Today. I find Ralph's view more persuasive.