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.
Obama’s hopes for transforming the Jewish vote, swapping out AIPAC for J Street, the OU for Uri L’Tzedek and the ADL for Jewish Funds for Justice fell flat. The old Jewish voter wasn’t going away and wasn’t about to be replaced by a bunch of campus radicals and community organizers praying for Hamas to win. As much as Obama tried to boost the status of the radical Jewish left, he found that the Jewish community was more organized and intractable than he expected. Prominent opposition from fixtures like Ed Koch and Alan Dershowitz, followed by the loss of Weiner’s old seat, sealed the deal.
But the deal is limited to lip service. As before, the policies haven’t changed, just the public relations. Jewish liberals will be able to go on enthusiastically praising the Democratic Party for its positive approach to Israel without being embarrassed by contradictory messages from within. And Obama will go on having a free hand against the Jewish State. His billionaire allies will go on plowing their fortunes into creating networks of left-wing Jewish groups aimed at the younger generation in the hope of rotting the next generation of the Jewish vote at the root. And everyone will be happy except the Israelis who are under fire and no one will pay much attention to them because they don’t really matter.
For American Jews, the question of Jerusalem is one of faith. Either faith in the peace process or faith in G-d. To believe in the peace process is to believe that the legitimacy of Israel, right down to its capital in Jerusalem, derives from reaching a final status agreement with Islamic terrorists. But to believe in G-d and the G-d-given land of Israel, G-d-given being another of the phrases eliminated from the Democratic platform, is to reject the notion that Israel or Jerusalem require validation for their right to exist from Arafat, Abbas or Hamas.
The frantic struggle over the Democratic Party platform is a symptom of that same insecurity as good liberal Jews go on seeking reassurances from their liberal peers for the survival and security of Israel. And the liberals pat them on the head, write in something about Jerusalem one day being recognized as the capital of Jerusalem when pigs fly El Al and the messiah of the peace process arrives wearing his keffiyah of goodwill, and send them back to explain to Jewish voters that the Democratic Party is back to being pro-Israel now.
For 2,000 years Jews chanted, “Next Year in Jerusalem” as an expression of their faith. Now a smaller liberal quorum chants, “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations” as an expression of their own faith. Faith in peace, in negotiations, in the basic decency of all the people and the ability of dialogue to resolve anything, even with people who celebrate murdering children.
Israeli victims of terror have been described as “Sacrifices of Peace.” Blood for the ‘Peace God’, the leering god of the negotiating tables who is worshiped at altars in Oslo and Wye, whose negotiations end with children being passed through the flames. Jewish liberals believe in the ‘Peace God’ every bit as fervently as their religious brethren believe in the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They have faith that with enough blood sacrifices to the ‘Peace God’, next year there will be peace and an American embassy in Jerusalem. And pigs will fly alongside El Al through the blue sky.
For decades Israelis have been urged to take a leap of faith in the goodwill of their enemies. They have made that leap time and time again, only to fall bruised and bloodied into shallow graves. The only thing that the platforms have to offer them is more encouragement to jump again, believing that this time it will be different. But it has never been any different and it will never be any different and Israelis are running out of land to give away and security to pawn to their enemies.
Those American Jews who have chosen to once again put their faith in Obama, the latest ‘Peace God’ to come down the Potomac and promise them that next year they will be able to visit Jerusalem without feeling shame over the conflict between being their pacifist version of Jewish values and the existence of Israel, will applaud the new Democratic platform because it allows them to hold on to their faith.
The things that you believe in say a great deal about you. For American and Israeli Jews the last few decades have been a struggle of faith. For Jewish farmers and herders on the hilltops, their faith has been in G-d. For those authorities dragging them away, their faith was in the ‘Peace God’. American Jews who had their faith tested in the last four years, only to be renewed their faith at the altar of the Democratic platform will find it difficult to hold on to it for another four years if Obama wins.
In two weeks millions of Jews will cry out, “Next Year in Jerusalem” and millions more will cry out, “Vote for Obama.” And we shall see whose faith will prevail.
Visit Daniel Greenfield’s blog Sultan Knish.
About the Author: Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli born blogger and columnist, and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His work covers American, European and Israeli politics as well as the War on Terror. His writing can be found at http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press.
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