On Israel/Palestine, What Does “Unwavering” Mean?


ValerieJarrett.jpgOn Wednesday evening, Obama confidente and White House Senior Advisor for Public Outreach Valerie Jarrett held a conference call with progressives around the country who may have been disheartened by Tuesday’s election results. It was a brave thing for her to do as many in the progressive community have felt ignored and abused as the White House in policies ranging from the health care public option, to carbon limits, to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and so on.
One of my New America Foundation colleagues, Jonathan Guyer, who happens to be the official cartoonist of The Washington Note, asked Jarrett where the President stood on Israel/Palestine.
As reported by JTA’s Ron Kampeas, Jarrett responded:

“The president has made it very clear that he is committed to doing whatever he can to foster talks in the Middle East – that’s unwavering,” Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s senior adviser for public engagement, said in a conference call Wednesday with a broad array of special interest groups, including Jewish groups. “That’s not a partisan issue; his commitment to that is unwavering.”
Jarrett initiated the call to reassure several sympathetic groups about the White House’s commitment in a number of “progressive” areas in the wake of Tuesday’s Republican sweep of the U.S. House of Representatives — one that Obama has described as a “shellacking.”

What does “unwavering mean?
If it means following the same unsuccessful strategy as before — with the same personnel, the same half-baked approach that leaves key participants out of the process, that tries to get Netanyahu to be nice to Palestinian moderates, and more of this — then Obama’s “unwavering” commitment is something worrisome.
If he wants to get things right, then the President needs to stand up, dust himself off, recommit to the vision he had when he won the White House, push Netanyahu around the sumo ring, and communicate a more definitive plan for what this White House expects in a settlement.
This is when “unwavering” might be something to applaud.

— Steve Clemons


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