The Jerusalem Flap

The Jerusalem Flap

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.


Whether you begin at the end or the beginning the flap over Jerusalem and the Republican and Democratic platforms is truly a tempest in a teapot. It should never have happened and was mishandled by all. It means nothing and, regardless of who is elected it will not influence U.S. policy towards Israel by one iota. The Democratic platform committee left out and changed language and so did the Republican platform. The GOP did not pledge to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and that Israel is the eternal capital of the Jewish people. The Democrats did not reiterate the language from 2008 precisely including stating that “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.”

Regardless of the efforts of Israel and its friends in Washington from the days when Senator Moynihan–pushed hard by one of his staffers–launched the movement that produced the congressional resolution calling upon Presidents to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, no one seriously ever expected it to happen under final negotiations between the parties were completed.

Today more than ever, no President will move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem given the current regional tension.  Both political parties want it that way, the Congress wants it that way, and all Presidents want it that way; despite all the rhetoric to the contrary. The one-upmanship which occurred between Governor Romney and Speaker Gingrich as to who would move the embassy first and faster was so much embarrassing political pandering. Some it undoubtedly was caused by the need to appeal to Sheldon Adelson for more of his millions.

There are certainly some people who take this debate seriously. Some members of both parties (the Ron Paul minions for the GOP and the extreme left in the Democratic Party) actually do want to send a pro-Arab or anti-Israel message to the convention, but they do not have a significant following in either case—at least on this issue.

Both platform committees were sent the same advisory information from Jewish communal leaders. AIPAC representatives were reportedly around during the drafting. No one understands how the final language made its way into the platform. American Jews have a right to be annoyed and the carelessness and sloppiness that created this flap. For Jewish Democrats it has created an unnecessary confrontation of a non-issue and made them and their party look bad. The energy wasted on this–especially by Jewish Republicans who know better– are scoring points by attacking now as they continue to try to push the Romney support numbers from the Jews in swing states to a meaningful level.

The fact that just before the opening of the Wednesday night convention session President Obama ordered the Jerusalem language to be re-inserted demonstrates that he personally got the message and the extent to which his own party’s platform committee had embarrassed him; in diplomatic terms; historical terms; and political terms.

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