Our Man in Jerusalem
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
We’re looking forward to the remarks to the Republican convention that Secretary of State Pompeo is due to air this evening after recording them at Jerusalem. The démarche should highlight the fact that of America’s two leading political parties, the Republicans have emerged as the more supportive of the Jewish state. It’s by no means the only important issue in this campaign, but it is one of them, and Mr. Trump is right to seize it.
It is symptomatic of the Democrats’ flux that Vice President Biden failed to think to arrange for a statement from Jerusalem. He had been, after all, one of the sponsors of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. That’s the law that mandates the move of the embassy. It was introduced by a Republican, Robert Dole of Kansas, on October 13, 1995, and on the same day, Mr. Biden threw in with him as a co-sponsor. There would eventually be 76.
The bill recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state . It declared a “Statement of the Policy of the United States” that “(1) Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected; (2) Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and (3) the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.”
The bill passed the Congress almost unanimously. To ease the policy jitters (to put it charitably) Congress inserted into the law a waiver permitting the president to delay moving the embassy for six months. That was triggered every six months by Presidents Clinton, Bush ’43, and Obama. It was not until Mr. Trump acceded to the presidency that the promise was kept and the embassy moved to our pre-existing consulate in Jerusalem.
What gets us about this is its disclosure of Mr. Trump as more sagacious than his predecessors. He grasped that the practice of exercising the waivers — over and over again for a generation — was itself an incentive to the Arabs not to settle. Mr. Trump was more sagacious, and he has a smarter ambassador. Plus, too, given the extraordinary threats used to try to scare him off his campaign promise, he proved to be more courageous.
The results are starting to come in with improvements in Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbors. We don’t want to make too much of it. One emirate doesn’t make a spring. And one threat from Iran doesn’t make an ally out of Israel’s other enemies. We do, though, get a sense of guarded optimism, including from our hard-headed Middle East leg, Benny Avni, who now alerts us to encouraging shifts in Sudan.
Which brings us back to Mr. Pompeo, who was in Jerusalem Monday and, while there, recorded the statement that reportedly will be aired at the convention this evening. The Democrats are trying to suggest that such a statement, even if Mr. Pompeo makes it in his personal capacity, would be a violation of the 1939 Hatch Act. That’s a law that bars certain federal officers and employees from politicking.
It turns out, though, that Section 9 (a) of the Hatch Act exempts not only the President and Vice president but also “heads and assistant heads of executive departments” and “officers who are appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and who determine policies to be pursued by the United States in its relations with foreign powers or in the Nation-wide administration of Federal laws.”
This is why, say, the second highest foreign affairs member of President Reagan’s cabinet, Jeane Kirkpatrick, could deliver, while serving as our permanent representative at the United Nations, a keynote address at the 1984 GOP convention in Dallas. She warned that the Democrats are always blaming America first. In any event, the Democrats don’t give any more of a fig about the Hatch Act than the man in the moon.
We don’t know what Secretary Pompeo will say tonight. No doubt what has put the Democrats into a panic, though, is the prospect of a cabinet star focusing attention on the fact that we finally recognize Jerusalem as part of Israel. And that it is a Republican who finally accomplished the move of our embassy there. And who, thereby, redeemed a decision of Congress and improved the prospects of a peaceful denouement between Israel and her Arab neighbors.