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.”

Read moreRecycled: A Note to Hillary on Jerusalem Disunited

Mr. Obama, Did You Pack These Bags Yourself?

Gershom Gorenberg

At the airport, before his takeoff for the Middle East, no one will ask Barack Obama if he packed his bags himself. It would be rude, and besides he has a full-time handler for that. He never has the lurching feeling as the cab leaves his house that he left the tickets on the kitchen table and a prescription in the medicine cabinet. Just writing those words, I finally understand the attraction of running for president.

He has, however, packed his political baggage himself. Mostly he’s done a good job – better, in fact, than one could expect.

First, he’s meeting with Palestinians as well as Israelis. At least according to the Palestinian side, Obama has put a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on his schedule for next Wednesday. When I wrote about his trip a couple of weeks ago, before the requisite leaks on the itinerary, I was afraid he’d decide it was politically inexpedient to make that stop, essential as it is. Symbolically, the Ramallah visit shows that he intends as president to talk to both Israelis and Palestinians, and that he’s serious about working for peace. Practically, it gives him the chance to see how Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayad respond to tough questions about the compromises they’ll need to make.

It would have been easy to skip Ramallah for fearing of losing Jewish votes, especially in swing states like Florida. The common mistake among candidates is to believe the rightwing minority in the U.S. Jewish community that purports to speak for the community as a whole,

Read moreMr. Obama, Did You Pack These Bags Yourself?

Updates: Pipes’ Pinocchios; Obama’s Gender; Undivided Jerusalem

Gershom Gorenberg

  • The Washington Post’s campaign factchecker awards three Pinocchios to conservative rottweiler Floyd Brown – and to his pseudo-academic alter ego, Daniel Pipes – for promoting the canard was a Muslim as a child and is hiding the fact: “Both Brown and Pipes base their arguments and conclusions on factoids that have appeared in the mainstream media. But they make no attempt to weigh the evidence fairly,” the Post said. In other words, they’re misusing some details to make up stories, as conspiracy theorists will. Pipes, we can be sure, will not be dissuaded from finding invidious Islamic plots everywhere.
  • Will Obama be the first woman president?

    Read moreUpdates: Pipes’ Pinocchios; Obama’s Gender; Undivided Jerusalem