On Sunday night, Ted Cruz attended a dinner in New York hosted by the Zionist Organization of America; also in attendance were Alan Dershowitz, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, former Michael Jackson confidant and Kosher Sex author Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, and John Hagee, a religious right minister whose assertion that the Holocaust was part of God's plan motivated John McCain to reject his endorsement in 2008, but who now presents himself as an ardent Christian Zionist.
Cruz received a warm reception at the dinner and tossed out a lot of rhetorical red meat:
The senator made his living litigating before the Supreme Court before heading to Washington. So he knew how to play to the room with appropriate outrage about the Obama administration's perceived deficits on the Jewish state. For example, he cited a case in which a Jewish family wants to list "Jerusalem, Israel" on its son's passport. Deploying a mindboggling analogy before the highest court, the Soliciter General likened Israel’s claim over Jerusalem to Russia's claim on Crimea.I'm not going to defend the analogy, but it's fallen to the Obama administration to defend a Jerusalem policy that dates back several decades. Yes, Congress passed a law in 2002 declaring it to be U.S. policy that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel -- the Obama administration is in court defending its refusal to abide by that law -- but George W. Bush defied the law before Obama did, signing the bill but refusing to enforce the provision regarding Jerusalem. Here's a New York Times story from October 2, 2002:
... Mr. Cruz thundered, "That is a grotesque and offensive analogy. This administration has been the most antagonistic toward Israel in memory."
The Bush administration said today that it would ignore as unconstitutional new Congressional dictates that would require the United States to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel....Here's the signing statement in which Bush rejected the provision.
As a candidate for president, Mr. Bush backed Israel's claim to Jerusalem as its capital, but in office he fell back on the longstanding American position that Arabs and Israelis must settle the question together....
On Monday, rather than veto the bill, Mr. Bush signed it. But he said the provisions on Jerusalem "if construed as mandatory rather than advisory, impermissibly interfere with the president's constitutional authority to formulate the position of the United States, speak for the nation in international affairs and determine the terms on which recognition is given to foreign states." He added, "U.S. policy regarding Jerusalem has not changed."
Even Saint Ronald Reagan resisted earlier efforts by Congress to move America's Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 1984:
... a bill introduced by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D) of New York proposes that the United States move its embassy from Israel's coastal city of Tel Aviv inland to Jerusalem. He argues that this would simply be a matter of recognizing reality....(Yes, it's true: the Reagan administration defended itself on this by citing the hated Jimmy Carter!)
The Reagan administration argues that the US has been and remains Israel's staunchest supporter but that it has been consistent American policy to keep the US embassy in Tel Aviv, where almost all embassies are located. To move the embassy would undercut the administration's ability to play a mediating role in the Arab-Israeli conflict, officials say. They contend that President Carter could not have negotiated the Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel if he had adopted the position of either party on the question of Jerusalem.
Administration officials have privately warned senators and congressmen that a vote in favor of moving the embassy could trigger demonstrations, mob attacks, and terrorist assaults on American embassies not only in the Middle East but also in large Muslim nations as far-flung as Pakistan and Indonesia.(Yes, the Reagan administration resisted this change out of sensitivity to the opinions of -- gasp -- Muslims!)
The Arabic name for Jerusalem is Al Quds, meaning "The Holy Place." Islamic tradition says it is the site from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven. The National Association of Arab Americans (NAAA) has argued that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem would be seen as a "deliberate affront," in both political and religious terms, to the Arab and Islamic worlds, which constitute almost one-sixth of the human race.
Moynihan has won the support of 37 co-sponsors for his bill. In the House of Representatives, Tom Lantos (D) of California and Benjamin Gilman (R) of New York have introduced a similar bill, which now has 213 co-sponsors.The Jerusalem Embassy Act finally passed in 1995, but it permitted the president to sign a waiver, good for six months, delaying enforcement of the provision. The provision has been waived every six months by every president since its passage.
Fearing an explosive reaction in the Middle East should the bills be approved , the Reagan administration has lobbied heavily against them. Last week, President Reagan told the New York Times that it would be "most unwise" for the US to move its Israel embassy to Jerusalem. Reagan suggested that if necessary he would veto the embassy legislation....
But demagogues like Cruz want you to believe that failure to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital is a unique Obama-era act of anti-Semitism. This isn't the first time the right has tried to pull this stunt -- in July 2012, on the eve of a Mitt Romney trip to Israel, a reporter tried to compel White House press secretary Jay Carney to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel's capital, without success. Right-wingers made much of this. Romney went on to say that Jerusalem is Israel's capital -- just as candidate Barack Obama had done in June 2008. It's the standard dance for presidential candidates (see George W. Bush's flip-flop, above). But, of course, in Obama's case, and only in Obama's case, it's because he hates the Jews.