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Contentions

Jerusalem and Realism

Earlier today on Contentions, my colleague Eric Trager referred to Barack Obama’s  “June 4th AIPAC address, in which he declared that Jerusalem ‘must remain undivided.’ Clearly, this was a bone-headed remark: an ‘undivided’ Jerusalem is mutually exclusive with every realistic conception of Israeli-Palestinian peace, and it’s an issue that U.S. Presidents — let alone presidential candidates — have no business prejudging anyway.”

In the first place, U.S. presidents prejudge a great many things; that is what happens during campaign season, when candidates make promises and guarantees and inform the country what their positions are on the matters they are going to have to deal with as president. It was remarkable that Obama mentioned an “undivided Jerusalem” in his AIPAC speech — a clear sop to hawkish supporters of Israel — precisely because his general approach on foreign policy indicated he leaned in a different direction. And later that day, when he began to squirm away from what he had said, Obama demonstrated that he had only been whispering sweet nothings in the ears of American Jews whose support he found it necessary to seek more ardently because of some of the Jeremiah Wright comments.

In the second place, the assertion that any peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians will require the re-division of Jerusalem is to suggest that the only “realistic” way for there to be a peace deal is for Israel to surrender a central tenet of Zionism in order to satisfy Palestinian irridentism. That is, to say the least, an arguable assertion, Eric.



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