So maybe Obama’s speech wasn’t kosher


The other day I had a post titled “O.U. says Obama kosher on Jerusalem.”

Well, let’s just say the O.U. is either to keep up with on the kosher status of ham.

The Obama story has taken some twist and turns in the past day, making things difficult for the O.U.’s man in D.C., Nathan Diament, who went to law school with the presumptive Democratic nominee and also has been playing a lead role in his organization’s efforts to head off any deal on Jerusalem.

After reports suggesting that Obama appeared to backtrack from his call for Jerusalem to remain the undivided capital of Israel, Diament essentially declared that the Obama camp’s revised line was treif:

“The Orthodox Union is extremely disappointed in this revision of Senator Obama’s important statement about Jerusalem,” said Nathan Diament, director of public policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations. He had sent out a release Wednesday applauding Obama’s Jerusalem remarks in front of AIPAC.

“In the current context, everyone understands that saying ‘Jerusalem… must remain undivided’ means that the holy city must remain unified under Israeli rule, as it has been since 1967,” Diament explained.

“If Senator Obama intended his remarks at AIPAC to be understood in this way, he said nothing that would reasonably lead to such a different interpretation.”

But then Obama sought to clarify his clarification. So now we have a new statement from the O.U., this one sort of pareve:


On June 4, Sen. Obama addressed the AIPAC policy conference and stated: “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” This statement was praised by the Orthodox Union and condemned by Palestinians.

On June 5, Obama campaign advisers stated that the intended interpretation of the statement was that Jerusalem is to “remain Israel’s capital [and should] not to be divided by barbed wire and checkpoints as it was 1948-1967.”

Later in the day, Sen. Obama appeared on CNN and, in response to questioning on this matter, personally stated: “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.” Sen. Obama further stated that with regard to any division of Jerusalem: “My belief is that as a practical matter it would be very difficult to execute. And I think that it is smart for us to work through a system in which everybody has access to the extraordinary religious sites in old Jerusalem. But, Israel has a legitimate claim on that city.”

Responding to Sen. Obama’s comments, the Orthodox Union issued the following statement:

Sen. Obama is correct that the re-division of Jerusalem is impractical. Jerusalem is a diverse city where Jewish and Arab neighborhoods are scattered in a patchwork. It is not only impractical to divide such a city, it would be unwise. Sen. Obama is also correct that we must ensure that people of every faith have access to all of the extraordinary religious sites of Jerusalem. Recent history has shown that such access and freedom of worship has only existed with Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty. Merely four decades ago, when Arabs controlled the Old City, sacred places of worship were sacked and people were denied access to their holiest sites. And more recently, when synagogues in Gaza or Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus came under Arab control, they too were destroyed. The Orthodox Union would ask Sen. Obama to consider these facts as he continues to consider his position with regard to the fate of Jerusalem.

Recommended from JTA