Talking about keeping shtum


Releases from pro-Israel groups and from Republicans calling on the Obama administration to keep its differences with Israel behind closed doors keep rolling in. 

One meta question is inevitably going to arise — so maybe I’ll raise it here: If the goal is to tamp down talk of U.S.-Israel differences, why is it smart to talk about U.S.-Israel differences?

Sincerely — what’s the calculus here? The AIPAC statement, especially — precisely because AIPAC rarely issues such statements — is a classic next day opportunity for us journalists. So, not in any chiding way (because in truth I can’t help but approve of the making of statements — the more that’s said, the better, is what my inner reporter always says): What’s the thinking here?

Anyway, from B’nai B’rith International:

The United States and Israel must intensify efforts to recall and implement shared goals and values—specifically peace talks. Israel is calling for negotiations without preconditions, and has accepted the “proximity talks” that could jump start a stalled process. This is where attention and focus must now return. It is incumbent now for the United States and Israel to ensure that the enemies of peace do not use a diplomatic dispute to release the Palestinians from their peace negotiation obligations.

The Israel Project:

While Israel apologized for the timing of the announcement of new housing units in Jerusalem, Israel should not be put in a position of apologizing for Jews living in their holiest city and capital, Jerusalem. 

Jews have not only been connected to Jerusalem for thousands of years, they are the only group in recent history that has protected Jerusalem’s holy sites for Christians, Muslims, Jews and others — keeping them open and safe to all faiths. Indeed, Arab and Christian citizens of Israel have freedom of religion, speech, press and the right to vote. By contrast, when Israel gave up all of Gaza in 2005 in hopes of peace, all Jews (including those buried in the cemetery there) had to leave Gaza. Indeed, the only Jew in Gaza is kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the ranking Republican on the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee:

U.S. condemnations of Israel and threats regarding our bilateral relationship undermine both our allies and the peace process, while encouraging the enemies of America and Israel alike. I am also deeply concerned about the Administration’s softer approaches towards the Palestinian Authority, Syria, and Iran, which are being carried out in conjunction with hard-line tactics against our key democratic ally, Israel. Our nation’s security cannot afford a foreign policy which isolates our allies and moves towards appeasing enemies of the U.S.

The Republican Jewish Coalition:

We call on the Obama administration to halt immediately its unwarranted pressure against Israel, to take steps to heal the dangerous rift it has created between the two countries, and to return to the policy of its predecessors in supporting Israel’s security and well-being as an important strategic ally.

The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs:

The language used by the Obama Administration was harsher than the language used to condemn Iran’s nuclear weapons program. During the past year, the Obama Administration was restrained in its rhetoric as the Iranian people fought in the streets for democracy because it did not wish to interject itself in what the President declared to be an internal Iranian matter. The decision to expand housing in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, is an internal Israeli matter. To challenge it is to challenge Israel’s sovereignty. The unfortunate reality is that so far the administration’s foreign policy has been to coddle those who criticize the United States such as Turkey, Syria and Iran and to punish those which support the United States like Poland, the Czech Republic and Israel.

U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the minority whip:

To say that I am deeply concerned with the irresponsible comments that the White House, Vice President, and the Secretary of State have made against Israel is an understatement. In an effort to ingratiate our country with the Arab world, this Administration has shown a troubling eagerness to undercut our allies and friends. Israel has always been committed to the peace process, including advocating for direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians, in effort to bring this conflict to an end. Unfortunately, the Palestinian Government continues to insist on indirect talks and slowing down the process.

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