Washington Watch: Those gullible Jews

It’s all a bunch of empty rhetoric and meaningless promises.

Former Florida governor and probable 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire (photo credit: REUTERS)
Former Florida governor and probable 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire
(photo credit: REUTERS)
How gullible do Republicans, especially the Bush brothers, think we Jews are? Very, judging by their empty promises to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Last week Jeb Bush told a South Carolina audience that on his first day in the Oval Office his second move would be to order the embassy moved as “a show of solidarity” with the Jewish state. Sound familiar? That’s just what big brother George W. promised to do on his first day and yet eight years later, on his last day in office, the embassy was still on Hayarkon Street in Tel Aviv. And there it remains.
Now brother Jeb – wasn’t he supposed to be the smarter brother? – says moving it will be “a clear signal” of American resolve to defend Israel against “the existential threat” posed by Iran. “We should take them at their word when they say ‘Death to Israel. Death to America’” and respond by moving the embassy.
Does that mean that if he doesn’t move the embassy right away it says America has lost its resolve to defend Israel? Of course not. It’s all a bunch of empty rhetoric and meaningless promises.
The Iranians have been shouting those slogans since the 1970s. So is Jeb suggesting Ronald Reagan, Poppy Bush 41 and W. – to say nothing of all those Democrats – didn’t have the guts to stand up to Iran, but he will? He’s not the only posturing presidential candidate pandering to Jews and Evangelicals by telling them that he wants to move the embassy. Republicans have been putting it in their platforms for years but doing nothing about it. In 1995 they pushed through a law mandating the embassy move despite the opposition of president Bill Clinton, who had advocated the relocation as a candidate three years earlier but never acted on it. That bill, which Clinton allowed to become law without his signature, was intended to show the Democratic president was not a real friend of Israel and to repair the image of his opponent, Sen. Bob Dole, who had very spotty and often hostile record of support for Israel. Didn’t work. Clinton got nearly 80 percent of the Jewish vote and coasted to reelection.
But that didn’t discourage Republicans from pummeling him as anti-Israel every six months when he signed a waiver delaying the move in the interest of national security.
Republican zeal for the move dissipated when one of their own, George W. Bush, began issuing the waivers.
Sixteen of them. Their excuse: they “understood” his explanation because he said he still intended to make the move, although he never did.
W can’t blame his failure on the Democrats. He had the full constitutional power to carry through with his promise – if he ever was serious about it – but he didn’t.
Of course, it was a bad promise because, as someone must have eventually explained to him, it would only stir up rage in the Arab world, probably incite violence in the Middle East and create unnecessarily damaging problems with Muslim countries.
That’s why he began backtracking even before taking office, explaining that he might not make the move on Day One but he’d certainly begin preparing for it. A top administration official later revealed there never were any preparations. Some of Jeb’s rivals have jumped on the Jerusalem bandwagon.
Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida have introduced legislation to remove the waiver authority used by Clinton, Bush and Barack Obama, but it’s just grandstanding. Their bill, which has only five cosponsors, all Republicans, isn’t going anywhere for two good reasons.
First, Obama would veto it, and second, even if Congress could override the veto it would be unconstitutional.
Earlier this year the Supreme Court ruled that the Congress does not have the constitutional authority to force the executive branch to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, an outspoken opponent of the two-state solution who has probably visited Israel more often than all the other candidates in both parties combined, has taken the pledge.
Donald Trump, who endorsed Benjamin Netanyahu in a 2013 campaign video for the prime minister, hasn’t taken a position on the embassy but said he loves Israel and it will be better off under his presidency because “Obama hates Israel.” Carly Fiorina also hasn’t mentioned the embassy but said her first phone call as president would be to “my good friend, Bibi Netanyahu.”
GOP 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, speaking to CNN in Jerusalem, where he got the virtual endorsement of Netanyahu, said he would move the embassy if elected but only in consultation with the Israeli government. He said he considers the city Israel’s capital.
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton doesn’t mention the issue on her 2016 campaign web page but as first lady and a Senate candidate in 1999 she expressed “active, committed” support for moving the embassy. As secretary of state, however, she filed a brief with the Supreme Court opposing the law allowing US citizens born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their place of birth on their passports. The court upheld her position, which was based on executive authority to make foreign policy.
President Obama has said he considers “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital” but the location of the embassy will depend on the outcome of negotiations between the two sides. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. Longtime US policy says Jerusalem’s status is to be determined in negotiations between the two sides. Neither the United States nor any other country has recognized Israel’s annexation of the eastern part of the city after the 1967 Six Day War, and no Israeli government has made a major effort to move the American embassy.
Here’s the emet, the truth:
Prematurely moving the embassy would destroy any hopes of rekindling peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, notwithstanding the fact that their current leaders have shown scant interest. It would also cause much mayhem in any new administration’s relations throughout the Muslim world. So the US Embassy won’t move to Jerusalem until the Israelis and Palestinians make peace and agree on the city’s final status. Until then it is just empty promises by politicians looking for money and votes from gullible Jews.