Photo Credit: DNC
President Jimmy Carter (seen here with wife Rosalynn), one of America's most outspoken critics of Israel, spoke at the DNC convention Tuesday night. Featuring Carter as a major speaker signaled a shift in the Party's view of Israel, which can bee seen in changes in its platform.

The pro-Israel news wires have been abuzz over the excision of core pro Israel language from the 2012 Democratic Party Platform. But it is not only the changes in the Democrats’ planks that should be examined.

For those who missed it but who care about Israel, here’s a recap.


Statements in the Democratic party platform referring to Israel that were included in their 2008 document, such as America’s “strongest ally in the region,” and mentioning “our special relationship with Israel” are gone.

Not only that, but Jerusalem does not merit even a single mention in the Democrats’ 2012 document.  The 2008 commitment that “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel” which “should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths” has evaporated.

State Department Spokewoman Victoria Nuland, Obama White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz, the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, have all refused to allow the phrase “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel” to pass their lips.  Did they not know that those words were an essential component of the Democratic Party’s public pledge in 2008?

The 2012 Democratic Party Platform now simply refers to aid to Israel and the maintenance of Israel’s qualitative military edge as something for which this president was responsible, rather than, in truth, that congress is where those decisions were made.  What’s more, in this year’s version there is no explicit promise to maintain that edge going forward.  Support for Israel’s right to defend itself and the president’s “steadfast opposition to any attempt to delegitimize Israel on the world stage” similarly seem stuck in time, with no forward-looking commitment whatsoever.

Also missing is what had been a solid commitment to isolate Hamas.  Instead, the only pre-conditions imposed are the same for all Arabs in the area – “we will insist that any Palestinian partner must recognize Israel’s right to exist [not to exist as a Jewish State, just to exist], reject violence, and adhere to existing agreements.” That’s it.

But what about the Republican Party Platform?  Maybe US politicians are all beginning to turn away from the Middle East, where the conflicts never seem to end.  Maybe a decision to step away from an ally who some claim only brings its supporters down, while never seeming to gain traction for the ally, is happening across the board.


But there have been changes regarding Israel between the 2008 Republican Party Platform and the one just passed in Tampa at last week’s Republican Party Convention.

So what are they? And how significant are they?

It’s hard to tell what the significance of the change in language regarding the peace process – just four years ago the Republican Platform included the following sentence:

We support the vision of two democratic states living in peace and security: Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital, and Palestine.

In the 2012 Platform:

We support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state with secure, defensible borders; and we envision two democratic states – Israel with Jerusalem as its capital and Palestine – living in peace and security. (emphasis added)

In other words, one is an imperative with which the Republicans agree, and the other is simply what they are imagining, but it is not an essential outcome.  And in both Republican platforms, the creation of a future state of Palestine is conditional upon the people who are seeking its creation to “support leaders who reject terror, embrace the institutions and ethos of democracy, and respect the rule of law.”

Here’s a clear language change: the bold print introducing the Platform section having to do with Israel has expanded from the 2008 one word name of the state to 2012’s “Our Unequivocal Support of Israel.”

And here’s a huge difference between the visions of the two parties: the single essential goal for Israel and her neighbors sought by the Republican Platform “is a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East.”  In the Democratic National Platform, an essential component for achieving this country’s commitment to Israel’s security is “two states for two people.”  In other words, the Democratic Platform will not allow for any conclusion to the Middle East peace process without the creation of a Palestinian State, whereas the Republicans’ sole end goal is peace, without attaching any collateral pre-conditions.

In addition to the central role of the creation of a Palestinian State and the rejection of Jerusalem as having plank-worthy stature, there are several other respects in which the language of the current Democratic Party Platform differs starkly from that of the Republicans’.  The need to isolate both Hamas and Hezbollah is in the Republicans’ but not the Democrats’ Platforms.  And finally, the pronouncement by the Republicans (in both 2008 and 2012) that Israel not be forced to negotiate with entities pledged to her destruction is not discussed by the Democrats.

On the other hand, there are two significant pro-Israel deletions from the Republicans’ 2012 Platform.  In 2008, there was both a pledge to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and the avowed support for Jerusalem to remain undivided.  That language is not in the 2012 Republican Platform.

Is there anything both parties have abandoned this time around?  Yes.  There is no mention of the Arab Palestinian refugee issue in either current Platform.

So, what’s the score?  Deleting familiar terms of support and ignoring a central issue like Jerusalem has to be troublesome for pro-Israel voters who planned to vote for the President.  But even the Republican Party has decided that moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem and insisting that the Holy City not be divided is no longer considered a promise worth making.

In the end, reading any platform, like listening to any speech, is a way to try to figure out how a candidate will govern if he wins.  And at the end of the day, that’s about what’s in his heart, not what’s on his posters.  Changes of tone of voice, of emphasis, like the deletion of issues or the difference between a commitment and a vision, are straws in the wind.

The weather’s been rough in Charlotte for lots of people these last few days, but the changes to the Democratic Platform about Israel really do tell us important things about which way the wind is blowing down there – and it’s hard not to see a change in direction from the way it has blown, for the Democratic party, for a long time.  If Obama wins, these new planks suggest, Israel will have less support on such key issues as Jerusalem.

As for the Republicans, the changes they’ve made seem to have split the difference, with some additions strengthening their commitment to the Jewish state, and others seemingly weakening it.

What that means for Jewish voters, or for others concerned about Israel, and the Middle East, will only be known a long time after the first Tuesday of this November.



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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email:


  1. During the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, one of their slogans was "forward." The new Democratic Party platform issued yesterday indicates that there is in fact a great similarity in chairman barack's use of the term to denote his campaign.

    Not only did the party legitimize attacks on a G-d" and against Israel by terror groups, but in their video comment that "the people belong to the government," they made it clear that the goal of the "party" (sound familiar?) is to make this the United States of obama not the United States of America!

  2. Any Jew who votes for Obama is a total fool. The only Jews that this mamzer SOB leftist moron Muslim Brotherhood stooge Obama cares for are the traitors from J-Street. And, not bad enough that he's anti-Israel, he's anti-American as well.

  3. You can not compare the two in language changes. One supports Israel and It's capital Jerusalem in Peace and support. The REPUBLICAN STANCE.
    The Democratic Stance which the DNC clearly said the Obama administration specifically told the DNC to make those changes Obama has made a choice to support the muslims and totally isolate Israel. What will be next? Scary thought! ROMNEY 2012

  4. What happend last night is serious. We Jews must unite and do it quickly. Like Haman Obama has united the Jews for he is our enemy. If we don't speak up for ourselves than nobody will. Wake up. Wake up and read your Jewish History. For the past 2000 Jews have been so persecuted that they give up their own cultural identities to just be accepted and fit in with the majority host culture. It has never worked (Spain, Russia, Italy, Nazi Germany, etc) then and will not work now. Jews disguise their lack of self esteem as social justice but it really is the "like me" factor at play. Charlie, Obama has appointed self-hating Jews, not Jews with self esteem. This was huge last night. Instead of chipping away at the Jews themselves (which will happen trust me) they are chipping away at the Jewish people's reciprocal host country! Remember up until 1948 all Jewish people were at the mercy of their host countries. In 1948 we finally got our reciprocal home land. Since Jimmy Carter various politicans have been chipping away at Israel's right to exist. Obama is the first sitting President to publicly ask for pre-67 borders! This was big last night for never before have the democrats left out a unified Jerusalem. It is up to us Jews to loudly protest and yes, vote for Romney in unison! If we don't protest with outrage at the Democrat platform then why should the Democrats give a ? History is repeating itself as the Jews at large suck up to the host country again. Recently we did this in Russia being pro active during the 1917 Russian Revolution–yet Jews were one of the first citizens to be persecuted by the new Communist government. We sucked up in Italy under Mussolini and of course with Hitler. You know what happened there! Are you aware that the first Jews to be gassed by Hitler were the Reform, secular Jews ("Like me and I will eat Ham for you on Yom Kippur!") Wake up and smell the roses! If we don't speak up then nobody will. History repeating itself!

  5. The Nazis also used cars, sat in cafes and raised tulips.

    Actually, it was the Fascists who used Avanti as their slogan.

    As does Kadima in Israel. Not a party I would vote for but not as packed with Nazis as one might presume.

    Seriously, every time the Nazis are used in an Internet debate, an angel loses his wings.

  6. I would presume the angel loses its wings not because of the use of the term but because the label fits so well! Reviewing the continued attacks on Israel by this administration, the removal of "hate crimes" when the victims are Jews by the DoJ, the animated response by obama to all things Muslim Brotherhood – who openly espouse the eradication of all "infidels" – starting with Jews, and obama's embrace of noted Jew haters like sharpton, jackson, wright, farakhan, and a variet of members of the CBC – and the indications and labels fit

  7. As a right-winger I utterly despise liberalism in all its vile perversity.
    And, I totally support Israel's claim to their historic capital where they've dwelt for millenia.
    Islam is a cult that came into being relatively recently and what did they do…they decided to plant their flag in Jerusalem and claim it in the name of barbarity. It is a recurring theme…TRIUMPHALISM.
    It's EXACTLY what's going on with their VICTORY MOSQUE in Manhattan.
    Jerusalem will NEVER AGAIN be occupied by such a hateful cabal and the muslims can try and take it…AT THEIR PERIL!

  8. The Left supports radical Islam since both are utopian totalitarian movements. That's why some call it the Red/Green alliance. And, as it happens, the normally xenophobic neo-nazis also support the anti-Semitic Islamic radicals. The Left, stupid as always, sees radical Islam as a way of destroying the capitalist system. Also, it's not accurate to call the Muslim Brotherhood ''extreme right'' – their economic program is essentially anti-free market, anti-capitalist. And, both the Left & radical Islam subscribe to to all that phoney anti-colonialist BS. Sounds like Obama to me.

  9. Farakhan endorsed Obama quite against the latter's expressed will. He threw Rev. Wright under the bus in 2008. The rest, unfortunately, are welcome and hugged by the entire Democratic party. Can't pin it on Obama alone. I'm not happy about it, but politics is not a bouquet of roses.

  10. Rick Plotkin, Charlie Hall is 100% correct.
    Further, id you really were that concerned you should be terrified about Willard as he simply does not have a clue about what he says. He knows absolutely nothing about foreign policy. He has never supported Israel with so much of a dollar or ever helped a single solitary Jew. He worships one g-d and one g-d only, the g-d of money. He may be backing Israel only to get American Jewish support. Real American Jews know about willard and would not give him there vote and people like you need to know what you are talking aobut before you begin to look foolish.

  11. lord_ligonier, in the U.S. lunatic right winger (like you) and crazy liberals (like me) disagree on social programs (medicare, social security, etc.,) and taxes and other issues, HOWEVER, one issue we always agree on is Israel, her safty and every Jew I know both on the right (the lunatics) and on the left (the crazies) agree on Jerusalem as the Capitol of Israel.
    Americans may not hate muslims, but we sure as heck to not trust them.

  12. Terry you are way past stupid if you really believe what you say. Obama has appointed more Jews to his cabinet, the supreme court and high ranking whaite house positions than any other president in Ameican history. He is also the first U.S. president to have a Passover Sedar in the White House. Hid current Chief of staff (the second most powerful person in the white house) is an orthodox Jew.
    You really need to know what you are talking about before you say things that make you look more foolish than everyone already knows you to be.

  13. Yeah, like I really care that Obama appoints Left-wing Jews or that he holds some phoney seder in the White House. You can fall for this crap if you like but I prefer more substantive policies, for example, what is the capitol of Israel? Why support the Muslim Brotherhood? What the hell does it mean to say pre-1967 borders? In Hebrew we have a word – frierim – it means ''suckers'' which is what liberal Jews are. Suckers. You fall for a con man, Obama is the Bernie Madoff of politics.

  14. You are down right stupid and do not care about the truth! you are like the repubs and tea baggers, masters of the hitler (goebbels) big lie theory: lie to then often enough, make it out rageous enough and idiots like you will believe it,
    You can say anything you want but that doesn't make it right, it only shows how stupid and ignorant you are and that you will believe any crap that floats your way.
    Obama believes that Jerrushalim is the capitol no matter what you say. You are an idiot.

  15. Concerning Jerusalem, it is not a matter of opinion. Jerusalem IS the capital of Israel because Israel has declared it so, as every other country in the world chooses its capital with the rest of the world complying. I'm sick of the disrespect the world has for Israeli sovereignty. Both parties need to stop catering to the muslim world's lies and historical revisionism. They have no basis for their claims to Jerusalem or any other part of Israel. Jerusalem is Judaism's holiest city and has deep historical Jewish connections dating thousands of years before islam existed.

  16. You are so lost your man worships one god Alla. Wake up go see 2016 get a new perspective be open minded. This President has taken every chance to put down Israel. He was the one who made the changes in the platform then realized I could lose Florida over this and made the change back. While there were Arab americans at the DNC screaming not to change it. He sides with the Palestinians wake up!! They railroaded their own delegates in the platform change.

  17. Anyone has the right to build any religious structure anywhere in the US if they can buy land with the right zoning. To deny anyone such a right is un-American. The same tactics used to try to stop the Islamic center in lower Manhattan (which BTW had a mosque before the WTC opened) are currently being used by anti-Semites to stop the construction of synagogues elsewhere in the US. I have a problem with that, and you should, too.

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