Recycled: A Note to Hillary on Jerusalem Disunited

Last year I wrote an open letter to Hillary Clinton, then frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, on the mistake she was making by promising support for “united Jerusalem” – or rather the mistake in believing there was any such thing as undivided Jerusalem.

A very long year has passed, and Barack Obama has just chosen Hillary as his secretary of state. Freed of the need to win reelection as senator, burdened with responsibility for policy toward Israel and the Palestinians, she has the opportunity and obligation to update her understanding of our riven city. So here’s some reading material for her (the start below, the rest at The American Prospect). Just trade “candidate” and “president” for “secretary” and it reads fine.

Dear Hillary,

A colleague alerted me to your recent position paper on Israel, with your promise of support for an “undivided Jerusalem.” I appreciate the warm feelings, but I admit I was confused by your description of my city. Since you are a careful, wonky candidate, I figured you must have details at your disposal. So this morning I called a Palestinian cabby friend, and together we went looking for the “undivided Jerusalem.”

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Barack Obama’s Pilgrimage

Gershom Gorenberg

Sometime before November, traffic in Jerusalem will be tied up by Barack Obama’s visit. My new article in The American Prospect explains what Obama should do while he’s here to prepare for the presidency, and why he won’t do any of that:

…In Jerusalem, Obama has another task — shoring up support among voters who question his pro-Israel credentials. This is hardly the Jewish vote as a whole. Rather, it is the subset that falsely conflates “pro-Israel” with supporting the hawkish side of the Israeli political spectrum. Trying to satisfy those voters while demonstrating a fresh, diplomacy-based foreign policy increases the chances of a slip-up…

Besides those constraints are the practical ones. Protocol forces a visiting political figure to spend his time with top officials, providing a terribly restrictive view of a country.

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