Why Are Republicans Misreading Obama's Speech?

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Okay, I guess it's a stupid question: Republicans are misreading Obama's speech for short-term political gain. But they're doing the cause they ostensibly support -- Israel -- a disservice in the process. Because President Obama's speech was enthusiastically pro-Israel. I don't mean pro-Israel merely in the "he's speaking hard truths the Israelis must hear about the occupation if their country is to survive as a Jewish democracy" sort of way. I mean, it was pro-Israel in a red-meat I-heart-Israel, damn-Hamas, Iran-can-go-to-hell, Israel is the eternal Jewish state sort of way.

Here's Tim Pawlenty on the speech, misreading a crucial passage:

"President Obama's insistence on a return to the 1967 borders is a mistaken and very dangerous demand. The city of Jerusalem must never be re-divided. To send a signal to the Palestinians that America will increase its demands on our ally Israel, on the heels of the Palestinian Authority's agreement with the Hamas terrorist organization, is a disaster waiting to happen. At this time of upheaval in the Middle East, it's never been more important for America to stand strong for Israel and for a united Jerusalem."

President Obama didn't "insist" that Israel return to its 1967 borders. He said the 1967 borders should form the basis of negotiations, and that Israel and Palestine should swap land, land swaps that would bring settlement blocs and East Jerusalem Jewish neighborhoods into Israel proper.

But Pawlenty is a master of subtlety when compared to Mitt Romney, who said:

President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus. He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace. He has also violated a first principle of American foreign policy, which is to stand firm by our friends.

Obama has thrown Israel under a bus? Top officials of the Israeli defense ministry have been telling me, and other reporters, for a couple of years now that military cooperation between their country and America has never been better. Some bus. There are a lot of countries out there that would like to be thrown under simliar buses.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/05/why-are-republicans-misreading-obamas-speech/239186/