Capitals and Embassies


This evening, the Romney campaign hosted a conference call for Jewish supporters, with the featured speaker being Dan Senor, author of “Startup Nation,” about Israel’s economy.  Senor accompanied Gov. Romney on his recent foreign trip, and spoke about some of the highlights.

During the Q&A, I asked him specifically about his recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and moving the embassy there from Tel Aviv.  A 1995 law provides for that, but also allows the President to waive that action for 6 months.  Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama have all repeatedly put off moving the embassy to Jerusalem.  President Obama recently took this equivocation to new heights, when his spokesman refused to identify Israel’s capital:

The followed the BBC’s failure to identify any city as Israel’s capital on its Olympics site, while readily identifying Jerusalem as the capital of the as-yet non-existent country of Palestine. While the Obama administration is hardly responsible for the BBC, its failure to support Israel generally – beyond the security cooperation – no doubt contributes to an atmosphere where the Beeb can perpetrate such insults.

While I don’t think anyone can reasonably question Romney’s affection for and support for Israel, Obama’s supporters have taken to pointing out that President Bush, while also identifying Israel’s capital as Jerusalem, repeated waived moving the embassy.

Senor, I think, aptly separated the two issues.  Moving the embassy isn’t necessary to recognizing a country’s capital.  Likewise, it should be a no-brainer to recognize that Israel’s national governmental institutions reside in a part of Jerusalem whose position as a part of Israel has never seriously been questioned.  Doing that in no way pre-judges the final status negotiations, which may take place sometime in our lifetimes.

In other words, doing so should have no immediate practical implications vis-a-vis the Palestinians, except insofar as they and other Arabs choose to be rejectionist of even minimal Israeli demands.  It would, however, be of significant symbolic importance, making it clear that the US supports Israel as a normal country within the nation state system.

That the Obama administration is incapable of even that tells you all you need to know about the difference between Romney and Obama on this matter.