Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Jerusalem. The Capital That Isn't. Except That It Is. Sort Of. Depends On Who You Ask.

Yet again, I’m fascinated (in the way that watching a train wreck is fascinating) by the assorted stunts and resulting crybaby antics of the public debate.  Several times over the past several days, the subject of whether or not Jerusalem is the capital city of Israel has come up.  Something guaranteed to piss everybody off.

I’ve always been a fan of the two-state solution.  It’s been around since the forties.  Make Jerusalem an international protectorate, partition lands amongst Israelis and Palestinians, and have everybody recognize both states.  This may not make everybody happy, but it gets the fewest people killed.  If we can ever pull it off.  But this is unlikely, because the status quo is just too valuable as a source of controversy and demagoguery.

It starts with Jay Carney, White House Press secretary.  Some reporter asked him if Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and he ducked it.  Big shock, he ducked a loaded question.  Instead of answering, he just endlessly repeated that the position of the U.S. hasn’t changed.  Not long after that, the BBC caused a stir by not listing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on its Olympic coverage website.    This apparently resulted in angry people all over the internet in spamming the BBC with complaints.  Shortly thereafter, it listed Jerusalem as the “seat of government” which is not quite the same thing.  In other words, it’s a total weak-ass dodge.  Finally, Mitt Romney stated that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.  His statements about the Olympics may have been overblown, but this was just a tad more serious.  Try to stay out of trouble in Poland, will you?

This series of misadventures highlights the primary flaws with politics today: brazen pandering, lily-livered attempts at diplomacy, and people more interested in stirring the pot than fixing problems.  And we wonder why nothing of significance ever gets done.

I can’t blame him Jay Carney for ducking the question.  This wasn’t a serious question.  This was a reporter/political operative asking a damned if you do/damned if you don’t question.  When a press secretary does a dance like that, it just means his boss won’t let him give a real answer.  Of course, this also means his boss needs to come up with a real answer.  The buck stops there.

The BBC was pandering to its audience.  Muslims aren’t the largest population in the UK, but they’re growing rapidly.  The BBC also has a large international audience, many of whom are Muslims.  It doesn’t want to lose ratings, so it avoids calling Jerusalem the capital of Israel.  Of course, it had no problem listing East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

Romney is pandering for votes.  Anyone in America who would be angered by his assertion that Jerusalem is the capital wasn’t going to vote for him anyway.  Some Jewish people in Florida might, though.  This pandering may get him votes, but it also earns him some diplomatic badwill if he ever gets elected.

Here’s a funny idea.  How about the BBC and Jay Carney just say something like “we support the two-state solution proposed by the UN over 70 years ago which establishes Jerusalem as an international protectorate”?  Sure, you’ll annoy some people.  Israel calls Jerusalem their capital and lots of other people don’t.  Just give up trying to make everyone happy.  Take a stand, maybe something will happen.  As long as both sides claim Jerusalem, this doesn’t end.

Here’s another funny idea.  How about the BBC and Mitt Romney knock it off with the pandering?  It makes you dumber.  If Romney gets elected now, he’ll have to walk back everything he said if he wants peace in the Middle East.  Although it wouldn’t be the first time he flip-flopped.  The BBC recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine is a tad ridiculous, since even the UN won’t do that.  Probably has something to do with the fact that the UN doesn’t even recognize Palestine.

These appear to be our options these days: weak-kneed or dumb-ass.  What’s the outcome?  Romney looks like a guy who’s willing say anything to be president, even if those things actually damage his ability to be a president.  AKA dumb-ass.  Obama looks like a waffler, because his deputy can’t come up with a strong answer.  AKA weak-kneed. 

The BBC manages to be the biggest screw-up.  It looks like a news organization more interested in ratings than facts when it recognizes Palestine and names East Jerusalem as its capital.  It’s also too chicken to take a stand on Jerusalem.  It’s not a hard stance to take.  You’d just be agreeing with most of the international community.  So the BBC is both weak-kneed and dumb-ass.  What do we pay these guys for?

And what’s-your-name reporter for the whatever-newspaper-or-magazine-you-work-for, knock it off with the useless scandal hunting questions.  You’re a troll; a troublemaker.  We don’t need reporters causing trouble; we have politicians for that.  You’re supposed to help limit the damage they do, not add to it.

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