Obama may be the "candidate of change", but he's no dummy, so like so many before him, he showed up Wednesday to pander to the Israeli Lobby.
And boy did he ever pander. In fact, so committed was he to winning the Jewish vote, that he pledged himself to a new, radical United States position on an item of critical importance in the Israeli-Palestinian negotions -- the disposition of Jerusalem.
The audience seemed quite pleased at the prospect of the United States taking sides in the negotiations by declaring that Jerusalem remain undivided:
He staked out some hawkish positions, declaring that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided," and termed Israel's attack in September on Syria's alleged incipient nuclear facility "entirely justified to end that threat."
But, as with most pandering, once he was out of the room, he had other people to pander too. After all, Barack is the candidate with audacity, in this case the audacity to be all things to all people. See, the Palestinians were none too pleased:
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian leaders reacted with anger and dismay on Wednesday to Barack Obama's pledge that Jerusalem should be Israel's undivided capital.
President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the U.S. presidential candidate's pledge to American Jewish leaders and he repeated his demand for a Palestinian state with Arab East Jerusalem as its capital.
See, Jerusalem is part of the never-ending negotiations, and as a broker in those talks, the U.S. has not taken a position, either under Bush or Clinton before him:
Abbas aide Saeb Erekat said Palestinian negotiators engaged in U.S.-sponsored peace talks would continue to insist on securing East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, as their capital. He said of Obama: "He has closed all doors to peace."
I guess Obama found something he could set a precondition for. Worse, it turns out that the United States has never formally accepted Jerusalem as the Israeli capital:
The United States and other international powers do not regard Jerusalem as Israel's capital -- the U.S. and other embassies are in Tel Aviv -- and do not recognize Israel's annexation of Arab East Jerusalem following the 1967 war.
OK, so you are running for President, you have no foreign policy experience, and you've just declared a seismic shift in the position of the country, should you become President, in order to win an important liberal voting block. What do you do when you realise your position will lose another important voting block? Retract them:
But 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."
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.
Oops. Of course, now he's lost the votes he won yesterday:
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.
Well, everybody who understand the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Which apparently doesn't include Barack Obama.
"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.
Well, you can't please all the people all the time, at least not on the same day.
And if you are a bit confused now as to what Barack's position is, and what he meant by "undivided", his spokesperson explained:
"Jerusalem remains Israel's capital and it's not going to be divided by barbed wire and checkpoints as it was in 1948-1967."
The Obama campaign adviser said that whatever the international reaction, it was important for the Illinois senator to "make his positions clear."
"Our main audience is American voters at the moment. Other people want to know where he stands and it's important that they do know where he stands," he said.
And by "at the moment", he apparently means whoever he is standing in front of when he makes a statement. Which is why Barack is the candidate for everyone -- because he pretty much will say anything to anyone that they want to hear.