Obama the Hawk: Shaking the Jerusalem Hornet’s Nest

Obama the Hawk: Shaking the Jerusalem Hornet’s Nest

In the political minefield that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the issue of Jerusalem hangs like a hornet's nest on a limb over a pile of unexploded ordnance. That's why many people caught their breath last week when Sen. Barack Obama, fresh from securing the Democratic nomination, walked through that field and stood face to face with the humming problem. Obama grabbed the Jerusalem hornet's nest and shook it hard. Or at least it seemed that way for about 24 hours.

Speaking before the annual gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee June 4, the pro-Israel lobby, Obama reassured Israel supporters that he was "Speaking from my heart, and as a true friend of Israel." That was no surprise. Support for Israel in the United States is bipartisan, with differences over the details of specific issues. Only a minority in today's Washington would disagree with Obama's vow that, "the bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable today, tomorrow and forever." The status of Jerusalem, however, is a different matter.

Jews refer to Jerusalem as their eternal capital. But Palestinians, too, say they want the city as the capital of a future Palestinian state. No issue is more emotionally charged. For Israeli politicians, talking about the status of Jerusalem is the riskiest of propositions.

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