So Governor Chris Christie made the national news again.
This time it wasn’t for Bridgegate.
Instead, his use of the word “occupation” apparently troubled Republican Jewish Coalition members who heard him speak last Saturday.
Talking about his family’s 2012 Israel trip, Mr. Christie said, “I took a helicopter ride from the occupied territories across and just felt personally how extraordinary that was to understand, the military risk that Israel faces every day.”
The O word resulted in the governor being called on Sheldon Adelson’s carpet to apologize for the gaffe. Mr. Adelson owns the casino hosting the RJC meeting. He is also a major contributor to Republican political candidates and to right-leaning organizations that support Israel.
Indeed, it was variously reported that the crowd broke into a “murmur” or a “gasp” at hearing Mr. Christie use the words “occupied territories.”
Why did the governor have to apologize? After all, it’s no secret that Israel has occupied west bank territories since the 1967 Six-Day War.
It’s also no secret that Israel not only has occupied those territories but also has constructed settlements, and that issue alone has made it difficult for the United States to broker any peace agreement toward a two-state solution. Some have said that the continuing occupation will lead to Israel’s eventual demise. Others feel just as strongly that Israel has to hold and even grow its West Bank position for security purposes.
But wherever someone stands when it comes to the triggering words “West Bank,” that doesn’t change the mere fact that it is an occupation.
Whether we support the occupation or loathe it, it exists.
Political hopefuls should not have to be so cautious about this issue. Perhaps if the occupation would come to a fair resolution for both sides, then maybe we wouldn’t have to worry about using that word.
Truth is, it can’t be the unsaid occupation or the veiled occupation. We can’t tiptoe around it.
How can Israel ever have an honest dialogue with the Palestinians about a lasting peace if its supporters can’t have an honest conversation among themselves?
Mr. Christie did not have to apologize this time. Just because someone calls Israel’s West Bank position an “occupation” does not mean he or she doesn’t support the Jewish state.