How many times can a Presidential candidate in the United States change his position on an issue? No one knows, yet, because Barack Obama is still in the running for the Presidency, and today has issued yet another reversal of position on a significant issue.
In early June, speaking before the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee, Obama stated that it was his belief that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city, and the capital of Israel:
Egypt must cut-off the smuggling of weapons in the Gaza. And Israel can also advance the cause of peace by taking appropriate steps consistent with it security to ease the freedom of movement for Palestinians and improve economic conditions in the West Bank and to refrain from building new settlements as it’s agreed to do with the Bush Administration at Annapolis. Now let me be clear; Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable; the Palestinians need a State--the Palestinians need a State that is contiguous and cohesive and that allows them to prosper, but any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish State with secure, recognized, defensible borders. And Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.
This is an utterly fantastic and strong statement to be making in front of a group comprised of a large Jewish representation. Exactly the right thing to say to them in order to garner their trust and their favors, as well as catching a few votes for the General election cycle.
And yet it brings to mind and to bearing another Obama expression that I use when he says something and then tries to backpedal. "Just words, Senator?"
In the following month since the speech, the Arab world has expressed their absolute shock and dismay at Obama's speech before the AIPAC, which was broadcast live over several Middle Eastern news channels.
Palestinian and Arab hopes were dashed by a speech that U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama gave to a pro-Israeli lobby, in which he promised his full support to Israel and went further by adopting Israeli policy that sees Jerusalem as the "undivided capital" of the Jewish state.
After having discreetly vouched for Obama since the party race to the White House began last year, his speech – just hours after he won his party's backing on Wednesday – has prompted second thoughts about what changes the African-American could bring to Washington's Middle East foreign policy.
Millions of Arabs were able to watch the address to the powerful American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which was aired live on some Arab television networks, serving as a "rude awakening" that the United States, regardless of its leadership, would continue to favor Israel at the expense of Palestinian and Arab rights.
In other words, it's not enough that Obama has thrown American Muslims under the bus, he's also tossed the Palestinians and Arabs there along with them, and now he's throwing bricks at them from the platform of Jerusalem. Muslims living in Jerusalem, who had been closely following the Obama campaign and were holding out hope that he truly was the candidate of change, have changed their minds as well, with one shop keeper in eastern Jerusalem, Ayman abu Syrieh, stating, "We were looking at him differently, from Bush and the others. We thought he would bring real peace to the Middle East. I have to be honest with you, I am shocked now."
Not so fast with the dismay, Syrieh, because Barack Obama, the candidate of "change," has exhibited once again his definition of the meaning of the word "change" by changing his position on the subject of Jerusalem, stating that in his speech he used "poor phrasing."
"You know, the truth is that this was an example where we had some poor phrasing in the speech. And we immediately tried to correct the interpretation that was given," he said in an interview aired on Sunday on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria -- GPS."
"The point we were simply making was, is that we don't want barbed wire running through Jerusalem, similar to the way it was prior to the '67 war, that it is possible for us to create a Jerusalem that is cohesive and coherent," Obama said.
Just words that were poorly phrased?
Not if one returns to the text of the speech and reads them, then watches footage of the speech
at the time it was given, in which he proclaims himself as a "true friend of Israel," and pledging the unbreakable bond between the U.S. and Israel. Poorly phrased? His entire speech was a proclamation of his understanding and appreciation of Zionism, acknowledging the centuries that Israel spent without a homeland and the importance of American support of the security of Israel as a nation.
Apparently Obama's concept of "change" applies to his position on any given issue whenever it is politically expedient to do so.
"Change you can believe in." You can believe there will be a change from Barack Obama whenever the political winds shift, evidently.