Does the Orthodox Union understand constitutional separations?


Okay, I’m having fun with this rhetorical question thing today, and of course the O.U. understands separations — few in Washington are smarter about government than the Orthodox Union’s Nathan Diament.

Which makes his statement backing a House bill backed mostly by GOP members that would remove the president’s waiver on the Jerusalem law a puzzler:

This legislation puts to rest illegitimate claims to Jerusalem that have wrongly defined where Israelis can reside and what authority Israel has to govern East Jerusalem. It is time to move the US embassy in Israel to its rightful place in Jerusalem. Just as the United States locates its embassy in the duly designated capitals of other nations, so too it should locate its embassy in Israel’s recognized capital.

The sentiment is typical enough of the O.U., which is fine.

The problem is when organizations attempt to balance competing imperatives: The O.U. has no problem with executive prerogatives when it comes to, say, setting up White House faith based initiatives.

Why would it hand the House a carte blanche on foreign policy, then, an area where executive branch preeminence is even more deeply ingrained than in discretionary domestic spending?

A Democratic House could shut down faith-based funding sometime in the future — and cite this proposed law as a precedent.

Of course, all of this is even less than speculative — this bill will never get through the Senate, and even if it did, the White House would ignore it. And the bill’s sponsors know that.

Still, the kind of Congress-White House antagonism — and the defiance of traditional separations — that this bill sets up is never good for getting things done in this town.

UPDATE: Nathan Diament tweets me his Politico op-ed from a year ago, which succinctly makes the case for a unified Israeli capital in Jerusalem.

He also pithily tweets, when I point out that blanket waivers are "not realistic:"

Not realistic, "idealistic" in the most literal sense of that word.

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