At the climax of the Yom Kippur services, and the conclusion of the Jewish High Holy Days, some two weeks from now, millions of Jews around the world will cry out, “Next Year in Jerusalem”, expressing their hope for a final redemption.
There is a similar faith at the heart of the DNC’s amended platform which states, “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations.”
Like the Jews praying for Jerusalem, the DNC’s platform supports a Jerusalem as Israel’s capital that is not a material Jerusalem, but a spiritual Jerusalem, a place that will come into being only when the messiah of the peace process has come and the terrorists have put down their guns and after twenty or two thousand or twenty thousand years have agreed to some final status agreement that falls short of making full territorial claims on the capital of Jerusalem.
The DNC’s platform is a properly devout expression of faith, not in G-d and not in the rights of Israelis, but in the peace process. After twenty years of peace and terror, next year the peace process will finally culminate in a final status agreement. And that expression of the DNC’s faith in the goodwill of terrorists is hardly reassuring to Israelis or American Jews.
Expressing support for Jerusalem to one day be recognized as the capital of Israel (without even the usual mention of a united city) after the final status agreement has been reached, defeats the whole purpose of the Jerusalem insertion.
The initial purpose of inserting support for Jerusalem into the platform was to reassure Israelis that the city was non-negotiable and that negotiating with the PLO would not cause Israel to lose its capital city. The current incarnation of the Jerusalem insertion, even after being put in, conveys the opposite message, that the city is negotiable, but if Israel successfully negotiates to keep Jerusalem, then it will remain the capital of Israel.
The 1992 Democratic platform said simply, “Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Israel and should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.” The 1996, 2000 and 2004 platforms utilized nearly the same language. Only in 2008, with the elevation of Obama, did the platform add a caveat about final status negotiations which rendered the pledge meaningless. It also eliminated any mention of a united or undivided Jerusalem.
Once in office, Obama began a major crisis with Israel over a housing project in Jerusalem. In 2012, Jerusalem was purged entirely from the platform and then after some protests restored in its meaningless 2008 form so as not to unduly concern Jewish voters by removing something that was not so much a statement of support as an empty wish that one day Jerusalem might be recognized as Israel’s capital.
The platforms, like most campaign promises, don’t represent any true or enduring commitments. The 1996 Republican platform held that “A Republican administration will ensure that the U.S. Embassy is moved to Jerusalem by May 1999.” The 2000 Republican platform declared, “Immediately upon taking office, the next Republican president will begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.” Four years later the platform said, “Republicans continue to support moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.”
Still the platform is a bellwether of sorts. In 1988, the year that Jesse Jackson threw his weight around, the Democratic platform barely qualified as pro-Israel and eliminated any mention of Jerusalem. Its elimination a second time in 2012 represents a similar ascension of forces overtly hostile to Israel and unwilling to sign their name to even vague meaningless reassurances. That is what the booing was really about. The pragmatists were being booed by the radicals for offering a sop to the naive voters who still think that there’s any place for G-d or Jerusalem in the Democratic Party.
The unpleasant truth is that no president has ever taken these platforms seriously. If one of them had, then the embassy would already be in Jerusalem. The elimination of the Jerusalem plank isn’t just a shift from covert to overt hostility toward Israel, more significantly it’s a shift away from traditional Jewish voters, toward a leftist coalition that is hostile to Israel.