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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Democratic Platform’

A Democratic Chorus of ‘No’ Rejects Mention of Jerusalem in Platform

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

The shocking video of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa trying to push through Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in the Democratic platform highlights the strong reservations that many American Jews are feeling toward the Democratic party.

The huge chorus of ‘no’ that thundered back at Villaraigosa (whom I know personally and respect deeply) was more about rejecting Jerusalem-as-Israel’s-capital from being shoved down the Democrats’ throats. [Editor’s note: Villaraigosa deemed the motion to reinstate Jerusalem into the platform had passed, though it was not clear if it actually had].

Now, I know to expect this from the BBC who, at the London Olympics, did not list Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. I also know to expect it from, say, the Palestinian Authority. When I accompanied the Rev. Al Sharpton to Gaza City in 2001 and refused to meet Yasser Arafat, I waited in the Presidential receiving room where there was a map of Israel with a Palestinian flag coloring the entire area. Neither Israel nor an Israeli Jerusalem even existed. But to hear this from a great American political party, which spawned such incredible pro-Israel personalities as Robert Kennedy, Scoop Jackson, Chuck Schumer, and current minority whip Steny Hoyer is quite shocking.

The debate about whether President Obama is favorably inclined toward Israel rages on. My own opinion has been clearly expressed in many published articles. In the summer of 2008 I received a phone call from the Obama campaign asking me to serve as national co-chair of ‘Rabbis for Obama.’ I told them I was flattered but could not accept. I was sure that Obama would go south on Israel, blaming the lack of progress in the peace process on Israeli intransigence rather than Palestinian terrorism. I was unfortunately proven correct. Obama’s first two years as President were taken straight out of Jimmy Carter’s playbook, putting immense pressure on Israel to make concessions without asking much of anything from the Palestinians, until his own self-described ‘shellacking’ in the 2010 midterms forced him to moderate his stance on Israel.

Be that as it may, I have never seen Obama’s unrelenting pressure on Israel as indicative of the Democratic Party in general. What a shame, therefore, to witness today’s reaction to Israel simply having its capital recognized by Democratic Party. My own opponent in New Jersey’s Ninth Congressional District, Bill Pascrell, signed the infamous Gaza 54 letter, despite its lie accusing Israel of denying food and medicine to Palestinians in Gaza. Pascrell has also been working tirelessly to keep Imam Muhamad Qatanani, a member of Hamas who regularly lambasts Israel from his pulpit in Paterson, in the country against a concerted effort by the Department of Homeland Security to deport him. And this latest outrage of omitting Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in the official Democratic platform gives me further pause.

What’s going on?

In truth, my feelings are that some of my Democratic brothers and sisters are losing their will to fight evil and choosing moral equivalency instead. It is not just Israel that seem to evoke the Democratic Party’s disdain. The Arabs of Syria are faring no better as they are slaughtered en masse as a Democratic president looks on with barely a whimper from his party to rescue these suffering souls.

Dennis Prager says that those who do not support Israel have a broken moral compass. Israel is a flourishing democracy with one of the most respected independent judiciaries in the world. Hamas is a terrorist organization whose charter calls for Jews to be killed wherever they may be. Hezbollah is another terrorist organization sworn to Israel’s destruction and the Palestinian authority is corrupt to the core, having stolen billions from innocent Palestinians who live in squalor under their oppressive sovereignty. Israel is not perfect. But is there really a choice as to who is in the right?

Jerusalem is the greatest litmus test of all. It is mentioned 600 times in the Hebrew Bible and not once in the Koran. It is replete with thousands of years of Jewish history and housed both of Judaism’s great Temples. It was the seat of Israel’s great king David, who made it his capital, and has been focused on in the Jewish prayers for millennia. Few expressed this better than Elie Wiesel in the full-page ads he took out in newspapers across the world in April 2010 when President Obama first started mumbling of Jerusalem being a divided city:

Some Love Lost: Dems Drop ‘Special Relationship’ Language from 2012 Platform

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

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.

Nope.

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.

 

Democratic Platform Tilts Against Israel: Side by Side Comparison to 2008, 2004

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

I’ve been beating on President Obama so much lately that I’ve been accused of being, God forbid, a Republican.

My pro-Obama friends have told me over and over that the president is pro-Israel, and they quote administration spokespersons about the relationship being closer than ever, and they quote the president’s comments about the “unbreakable bond” and about “having Israel’s back.”

They tell me that nothing’s changed, that this administration is as pro-Israel as any previous one, Democratic or Republican, and I needn’t fear that a reelected President Obama will punish Israel.

With all due respect, they are full of it.

The Washington Free Beacon compared the 2012 Democratic platform— the Obama platform — with the 2008 and 2004 models. What they found is shocking:

Several pro-Israel sections of the 2008 Democratic Party platform have been removed from the 2012 platform—on Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, and Hamas. The new platform represents another shift by the Obama Democrats toward the Palestinian position on key issues in the peace process.

For Jerusalem, the new platform has been brought into line with the Obama administration’s policy of not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and supporting its division. Jerusalem is unmentioned in the 2012 document, whereas the 2008 and 2004 Democratic Party platforms declared “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel…It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.” The Obama administration’s refusal to recognize Jerusalem has been a point of significant controversy in recent months.

On the issue of Palestinian refugees, the new document has removed language from the 2004 and 2008 platforms specifying that Palestinian “refugees” should be settled in a future Palestinian state, not in Israel.

The 2004 platform: “The creation of a Palestinian state should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.”

The 2008 platform: The peace process “should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.”

The 2012 platform contains no language on the matter.

Previously, Obama has incorporated the Palestinian positions on Jerusalem and borders into his administration’s policies. It appears that with his party’s new platform, he is also doing so with refugees.

Gone as well is the language from 2008 on the terrorist group Hamas, which currently controls the Gaza Strip. That platform declared, “The United States and its Quartet partners should continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and abides by past agreements.”

The 2012 platform contains no mention of Hamas.

Previous platforms also contained promises to maintain Israel’s “qualitative military edge” in the region. The 2008 platform, for example, spoke of a “commitment which requires us to ensure that Israel retains a qualitative edge for its national security and its right to self-defense.” The 2012 platform mentions only that “[t]he administration has also worked to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region,” with no commitment to doing so in the future.

There is no question of pro-GOP journalistic spin here. These are entirely objective comparisons that anyone can verify.

If you are a Democrat who cares about Israel’s survival — yes, it is that critical — while opposing Romney-Ryan for other reasons, you have a very difficult choice to make in November.

Just don’t make it on the basis of the reassuring lies the Obama campaign is telling about his commitment to Israel.

Visit the Fresno Zionism blog.

Why didn’t they leave the platform alone?

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Earlier today I discussed the surprising degree to which the 2012 Democratic platform differed from the 2008 and 2004 platforms in respect to Israel. The changes represent a significant tilt toward Palestinian positions on Arab refugees,Jerusalem and Hamas. It also leaves out prior language about helpingIsrael maintain a “qualitative military edge” over its adversaries.

The interesting question is “why did they change it?” A platform is not a binding document; it is intended as a general statement of a party or candidate’s positions. Its planks are generally written to appeal the broadest possible constituencies. Most voters never read platforms or care about them.

If they had not changed the 2008 text nobody would have noticed. And at a time when Republican opponents are doing their best to argue that Obama is an anti-Israel president, one would expect Democrats to avoid giving them ammunition.

Unless they think that being anti-Israel is a plus. This would also fit in with recent public statements and actions regarding Iran, which they present as a problem forIsrael but not particularly the US.

But polls consistently show that the majority of Americans supportIsrael. So how can this make sense? To answer this, we need to look at who these pro-Israel Americans are; and by in large, they are not likely Obama voters. Most are white Evangelical Protestants, who are solidly Republican already. Some — a comparatively tiny number — are Jews for whomIsraelis a major issue that influences their vote. Many of these have already abandoned Obama. The majority of Jews, however, lean Democratic on the basis of domestic issues and will not be affected.

If this tilt againstIsraeldoesn’t hurt Obama too much, where does it help him? There are two groups that will take notice and approve of the change. One is his left-wing base. These are mostly students and others who have a “postcolonial” anti-Zionist (and anti-Western) point of view. It is critical for the Democrats to enlist these activists in the final get-out-the-vote effort.

It seems that just as Romney barely budged toward the center after receiving the nomination, so too Obama prefers to activate his troops rather than to reach out for undecided votes.

The second group of voters is the Ron Paul crowd. They have not as yet displayed much affection for either Obama or Romney, but they will find the suggestion of less military aid toIsraelappealing. They are also happy to see Obama avoiding ‘complicity’ in a possible Israeli attack on Iran.These two groups, along with American Muslims, constitute an anti-Zionist bloc. This move locks it in for Obama.

There is another possibility that cannot be discounted. That is that the change is intended to send a message to the leadership of the Muslim nations that Obama has been courting since his 2009 speech in Cairo — Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. — a message that he is taking concrete steps to weaken the “unbreakable bond” between the US and Israel. Perhaps he is finally working to fulfill his promise to pro-Palestinian activist Ali Abunimah that he would be “more up front” in helping the Palestinians in the future.

Visit Vic Rosenthal’s blog, Fresno Zionism.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/why-didnt-they-leave-the-platform-alone/2012/09/05/

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