He continued to point out that the old city of Jerusalem would still be Arab if Jordan had not joined Egypt and Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. Unlike when it was in their hands, however, “for the first time in history, Jews, Christians and Muslims may all worship at their shrines…And contrary to certain media reports, Jews, Christians and Muslims are allowed to build their homes anywhere in the city.” He noted that while Jews would be willing to die for Jerusalem, they would not kill for it.
Both men are prominent leaders of the American Jewish community, with wide influence. They are accustomed to speaking out when they feel the interests of world Jewry and Israel is being threatened. Yet, “unnamed” official representatives of the U.S. Government evidently released the following statement to both Haaretz and other news media: “United States administration officials have voiced harsh criticism over advertisements in favor of Israel’s position on Jerusalem that appeared in the U.S. press with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s encouragement. ‘All these advertisements are not a wise move,’ one senior American official told Haaretz.”
Am I incorrect to think that this little item, buried at the end of a story in the Israeli paper Haaretz, is more than unusual? American citizens, a category that include both Lauder and Wiesel, have the right to speak out, and to exercise their First Amendment rights to disagree with administration policy, and even to spend their own money to advertise their views. What right does any unnamed official- one must ask whom they are- have to publicly chastise them and release a statement to that effect in Israel and to the world press?
In a matter of hours, the Haaretz story spread all over the world on the internet. We must ask what this says about the Obama administration, which seems to find any criticism extremely threatening. In acting to stifle those with the courage to take them on, the Obama team demeans itself, and again shows how it is seeking to tilt our traditional Middle East policy in a new direction.