Next Year, In Jerusalem

Candidate Obama made an appeal to a Jewish group in the US in June 2008:

BARACK OBAMA: “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.

I wrote about this at the time, and noted that within a day of making this statement he was backtracking, under pressure from Arab sources.  By the time of the election, of course, Obama had abandoned any such notions.

A year or so ago, Sec. of State Clinton and the Obama administration were refusing to admit that Jerusalem was even in Israel (and was fighting a lawsuit about it):

Secretary of State Clinton, in a sharp departure from her stance when she was a senator, is warning that any American action, even symbolically, toward recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel must be avoided for the reason that it would jeopardize the peace process.

Her warnings were issued in a brief she has just filed with the Supreme Court — in which she is arguing that a law she voted for when she was Senator is unconstitutional because it could require the U.S. government to give to an American citizen born at Jerusalem papers showing the birthplace as Israel.

At about this time, one pundit pointed out that some Obama administration photos showed “Jerusalem, Israel” in their captions. Within hours, Obama administration people began scrubbing those pages to remove the word “Israel” from the captions.  This produced the bizarre result of “cleansing” the word Israel from the caption of a photo memorializing an ethnic cleansing of Israelis.

Bizarrely, the Obama team’s scrubbing included going back and rewriting documents from the Bush administration to pretend that Bush’s people did not use the phrase “Jerusalem, Israel” — a rather creepy attempt to change history:

Bush’s statement nominating Jeffrey Feltman to be ambassador to Lebanon, for instance, explicitly described Feltman’s previous positionas “Deputy Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, Israel.”

It gets worse for Obama’s defenders, though, than merely being demonstrably wrong. It turns out that while they were insisting that the Bush administration consistently refused to reference “Jerusalem, Israel,” the Obama State Department was busy scrubbing documents in which Bush administration referenced “Jerusalem, Israel.” Straight down the memory hole. That’s kind of amazing when you pause and think about it, no?

The “Jerusalem, Israel” captions and statements from the Bush-era White House are digitally archived and frozen, and so beyond the administration’s reach. But Bush-era State Department reports are stored on the Obama State Department’s servers. Two old documents in particular – the State Department’s FY 2002 and FY 2003 Performance and Accountability Reports – come up quickly in searches. When they were originally written they both had appendices identifying the location of the Jerusalem consulate as “Jerusalem, Israel.” Some time in the last two weeks that location was changed to “Jerusalem.” Whoever made the changes even went back and scrubbed the old “hard copy” PDFs. You can do the compare and contrast yourself. Click on these links for scrubbed versions of FY 2002 HTML, FY 2003 HTML, FY 2002 PDF, FY 2003 PDF, and on these links for cached original versions of FY 2002 HTML, FY 2003 HTML, FY 2002 PDF, FY 2003 PDF.

It brought to mind when Michelle Obama told a crowd that they would have to “change … our history” to reach their objectives:

MICHELLE OBAMA:“Barack knows that we are going to have to make sacrifices; we are going to have to change our conversation; we’re going to have to change our traditions, our history; we’re going to have to move into a different place as a nation.”

In recent weeks, the Obama administration was pushed on this, with the State Department asked to identify the capital of Israel. They would not. Last week, Obama spokesman Carney was asked, and produced the same non-answers. This video shows both conversations.

Mitt Romney, in Israel, just said the same thing that Obama said in June 2008 (and which, incidentally, has been US law since November 1995) — but now it’s a “gaffe.”  Bush (like Clinton) was cagey about this topic, not wanting to make the commitment, but Obama’s attack on Bush for that failure, only to abandon the same commitment, looks rather political. Here is an excerpt from the 1995 law:

SEC. 2. FINDINGS. The Congress makes the following findings:

  1. Each sovereign nation, under international law and custom, may designate its own capital.
  2. Since 1950, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel.
  3. The city of Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s President, Parliament, and Supreme Court, and the site of numerous government ministries and social and cultural institutions.
  4. The city of Jerusalem is the spiritual center of Judaism, and is also considered a holy city by the members of other religious faiths.

There is a push in Congress now to reassert the same things, but to disallow the presidential (executive branch) override. But a larger issue, to me, is the current administration’s willingness to change historical documents to cover up their false statements. The evidence for this appears very strong, and the justification not even attempted.  If you are caught in a false statement, as White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer was on the WhiteHouse.gov blog a few days ago, loudly insisting your lie is correct does not improve the “optics” of your position.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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