Mitt Romney held a fundraiser in Israel while he was here -- the first time ever for a presidential candidate. And he raised over a million dollars. That, surely, tells us something.
So does the response of spokesmen for the PA. The Palestinian Arabs are not a happy group at the moment. They are distressed that Romney didn't visit Ramallah during his trip here, and didn't meet with Mahmoud Abbas.
One Fatah official, cited by Khaled Abu Toameh in the JPost, called this "unacceptable," and said that Romney "apparently does not recognize Abbas as the elected president of the Palestinians."
Well, I have a flash for this official: While he functions as if he is, Abbas in fact is not elected president of the PA. In January 2005, he was elected president as the replacement for Arafat, who had died just weeks earlier. According to PA law, the presidential term is four years and thus should have expired in 2009. But Abbas, in a political slight of hand, argued that since the election for president would not have taken place until 2006, had Arafat not died, his four year term would really be over in 2010.
However, since then there has not been a presidential election either -- in part because of Fatah-Hamas tensions. Such is the state of affairs in the PA.
This serves as a potent warning of what would transpire inside a "state of Palestine": Rule of law is not high on their agenda.
Romney did meet with PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, in Jerusalem. Fayyad has been criticized by members of Fatah for agreeing to this meeting.
Most significantly, Palestinian Arabs are outraged at Romney for having referred to Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
According to Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman:
"These are racist and extremist statements that deny the rights of the Palestinian people. His statements distort and forge history and mislead public opinion."
Romney's statements, he declared, encourage Israel to "Judaize Jerusalem."
"Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinians and Palestine and we will never give it up."
Quite frankly, I consider this a form of entertainment. King David made Jerusalem a Jewish capital 3,000 years ago, and this spokesman for terrorists talks about the affront of our attempting to "Judaize Jerusalem." As to "never giving it up," I feel obligated to point out that they never had it and don't have it now. This is bombast, reflecting their upset at the prospect that a man such as Romney might replace Obama.
Abu Toameh also reports that Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine are calling for a "boycott" of Romney. Not sure what they think this means, but being cut off by radical/terrorist groups will most assuredly not damage Romney politically. They would, I think, simply be doing him a favor by demonstrating the difference between Romney and Obama, who has courted the Muslim Brotherhood.
Now, as to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel: Please note that Barhoum says, "Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinians." Not eastern Jerusalem. Jerusalem. The Palestinian Arab claims, put out for Western consumption, that all they want is eastern Jerusalem (I never refer to "East Jerusalem" because there is only one united city), imply that Jerusalem would be shared and the capital of two nations. This is nothing more than a diversion, a falsehood.
They want it all, and we must never lose sight of this.
And there is something else that we should keep our eye on as well. That is the fact that the international community does not even recognize western Jerusalem as Israel's capital -- which would still give the Palestinians the potential right to eastern Jerusalem as its capital, pending negotiations.
We know this is so because the nations of the world that have diplomatic relations with Israel maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv. I just alluded to this the other day with regard to White House spokesman Jay Carney refusing to say whether the US considers Jerusalem or Tel Aviv Israel's capital. "Our position hasn't changed," is all he would say.
All of this points to the political significance of Romney's statement.
An astute reader (thanks Jack G.) raised the issue of whether the world accepts that Jerusalem is part of Israel at all. If the issue of whether it is our capital must be resolved via negotiations, it would seem, by extension, no.
Yet another reader (a nod to Bernard F.) raised with me the question of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. This called for the US to move its embassy to Jerusalem, and was passed by huge majorities in both houses of Congress. It, however, provided the president with the authority to suspend its implementation for reasons of national security. And every president since it was passed has thought better of angering the Arabs by making the move.
I consider this legislation dead in the water. At least for now. Whether it might ever be revived is something I'm not going to venture a guess on here.
What is not commonly known is that various governments of Israel have not been eager to push this issue -- and that this, too, may have affected presidential decisions.
In any event, the large plot of land that had been acquired by the US and allocated for the Embassy has now been utilized for a new US consulate building. This land is in western Jerusalem, and a consulate that had been in eastern Jerusalem has been relocated.
In the end, all that matters is what we think about Jerusalem. This has been my theme of late. We must stand up for ourselves and proceed without undue focus on what the world "recognizes."
The Knesset passed Basic Law: Jerusalem in July 1980. Most significantly, it reads:
"Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel....
"Jerusalem is the seat of the President of the State, the Knesset, the Government and the Supreme Court.
"The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings towards those places.
"The Government shall provide for the development and prosperity of Jerusalem and the well-being of its inhabitants by allocating special funds, including a special annual grant to the Municipality of Jerusalem (Capital City Grant) with the approval of the Finance Committee of the Knesset.
(b) Jerusalem shall be given special priority in the activities of the authorities of the State so as to further its development in economic and other matters.
My friends, with the advent of August I go into "kaitana savta" mode. Roughly translated, this is "summer camp grandma." Over the course of the next three weeks, I will have grandchildren visiting me, two or three at a time, sleeping here and enjoying the activities I plan for them.
I will not be away. I will have breaks between, and time in the evenings when younger ones are asleep. But they will be my priority, which means posting will be fewer and shorter.
Without these dearly loved grandchildren, I would not have the strength to do postings at all.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.