Rudy Red Meat


Hizzoner got in the Jerusalem line.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, brought attacks on Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to a crescendo on Wednesday night at the Republican Party convention in St. Paul. That’s the night when parties traditionally trash the opposition, and then use whatever time’s left over to debut vice presidential picks (in this case, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin).

“When speaking to a pro-Israeli group, Obama favored an undivided Jerusalem, like I favor and John McCain favors it. Well he favored an undivided Jerusalem, don’t get excited – until one day later when he changed his mind.”

In fact, Obama did not retreat from favoring an undivided Jerusalem: After his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in June, Obama’s campaign clarified (after Palestinian complaints) that Jerusalem’s final status should be left to the parties.

That’s also the position of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the Republican candidate, by the way.

Israelis (and, I suspect, much of the AIPAC room) understand a pledge to keep Jerusalem “undivided” to include the possibility – however discomfiting – of a shared capital. The underlying pledge is not to keep Israel sovereign in every neighborhood – but to ensure that the United States will not allow a war that could end with the city divided, as it did 1948.

The Obama campaign muddled the message, though, with surrogates apologizing for “poor wording” in the days that followed, although the wording was boilerplate. That gave Republicans wiggle room to cut away at what had been a very well-received speech.

It was hardly a surprise, then, that Giuliani brought it up as a flip-flop.

A few lines later, Rudy got back to the Middle East, by way of tearing into what he said was Obama’s equivalence in dealing with the Georgian crisis.

“Obama’s first instinct was to create a moral equivalency, suggesting that both sides were equally responsible, the same moral equivalency that he’s displayed in discussing the Palestinian Authority and the State of Israel.”

Here, I’m not not clear about what Giuliani was referring to: Obama has said he is willing to pressure both sides in peace talks, but has always added that he believes there is a greater onus on the Palestinians to push forward with peace negotiations.

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