There is something you can set your watch to in American politics: Every four years, at least one presidential candidate pledges to move America’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Israeli capital. And if a pledger happens to win, he discovers, “Oops, this is not such a convenient time to move the embassy. Never mind.”
Strangely, I don’t remember any embassy talk from this year. Has there been any? Neither do I remember that a nominee or his party has ever refused to acknowledge Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, the embassy issue aside.
Tell you what I do remember: what George Shultz said to Deborah Orin, the late reporter, several years ago. I particularly remember the phrase “camping out.” Ah, Google has found it — 2003.
“Why not move our embassy to West Jerusalem and be done with it?” Shultz said. “People should do things that say, ‘Israel is there to stay.’ We should say we think a big element in the process of seeking peace is the acceptance of Israel’s existence and so we’re going to go around to all our friends in Europe and Asia and elsewhere and say, ‘Let’s accept Israel’s right to exist’ — and a way of doing that is to move our embassy to West Jerusalem.”
I agree with that entirely (for what it’s worth). Have long said it, in so many words. Moving to Jerusalem would signal, “Israel is not a temporary inconvenience. Give up your dream of driving it into the sea. Give up your alternative dream of swallowing it in a ‘unitary state.’ Israel is a permanent fact, to the extent that anything is permanent in human affairs. You’ll have to coexist with Israel. Might as well get started.”
Shultz added, in that interview with Orin, “As long as the embassy is in Tel Aviv, it sort of says we’re camping out.” Exactly.