Less than 100 days before the US presidential elections, the Obama administration is openly denying Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem. Can this be a vote-getter?
Last week, the Emergency Committee for Israel released an ad titled, "O, Jerusalem." The commercial showed administration officials squirming when asked to name the capital of Israel, and highlighted the recent refusals of White House and State Department spokespeople to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel's capital city. The underlying message of the ad was that the administration's policy is out of step with the views of the majority of Americans.
Barack Obama's position is certainly a political outlier. The 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, passed nearly unanimously by both houses of Congress, explicitly stated that it is the policy of the United States that Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel. The law granted the president a right to postpone the transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on national security grounds. But the law's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital was unconditional.
During his visit to Israel earlier this week, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney highlighted the fact that he holds the consensus view of the American public on Jerusalem.
In his speech in Jerusalem on Sunday afternoon, Romney said simply, "It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel."
The Palestinians were predictably enraged.
Also predictably, the Palestinians chastised Romney for another statement he made that was equally rooted in America's bipartisan consensus.
Romney noted that other things being equal, cultures that uphold and protect political and economic freedoms are more prosperous than cultures that don't.
In a breakfast meeting with American supporters in Jerusalem on Monday, Romney noted that Israel's per capita income is significantly higher than the per capital income of Palestinians in areas governed by the Palestinian Authority, just as per capita income in the US is higher than per capita income in Mexico, and per capita income in Chile is higher than per capita income in Ecuador.
It is hard to think of a milder criticism of Palestinian society than Romney's comparison of the Palestinian economy to the economies of Mexico and Ecuador. Romney could easily have gone much further without ever leaving the confines of received wisdom. For instance, he could have mentioned - as Obama did in his speech in Cairo in June 2009 - that Muslim societies under-invest in education relative to non-Muslim societies.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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