Yesterday, I wrote a column about the growing number of policy shifts undergone by Barack Obama during this campaign, but his latest may be the most craven yet.
Attempting to calm fears over his stance toward Israel, Obama gave a speech to AIPAC on Wednesday, and declared: “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” I was in the room, and it was one of the biggest applause lines in his speech.
But within a day of uttering those words, he has already changed his tune amid Palestinian pressure.
Palestinian leaders reacted with anger and dismay on Wednesday to Obama saying Jerusalem should be Israel’s undivided capital.
“Well, obviously, it’s going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations,” Obama told CNN when asked whether Palestinians had no future claim to the city.
People may disagree over whether or not Jerusalem should be divided, and about whether it should be an issue in the American presidential election. But regardless of one’s views on the issue, here we have an example of Obama going before a constituency and telling them what they wanted to hear, only to reverse himself when his statements got criticized by another group, in this case, Hamas.
As I wrote in my column: “given that Obama has such a thin public record, Americans have no way of evaluating him other than on the basis of what he is currently saying. If he is so willing to change his positions and alter his rhetoric on the basis of what is most politically convenient at the time, then voters have no way of assessing how he would actually govern.”
UPDATE: I just went back and listened to my recording of Obama’s AIPAC speech, and after this new development, the following line takes on added irony: “I want you to know that today I will be speaking from my heart.”