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August 24, 2016 / 20 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘platform’

The Grassroots and Interfaith Effort Behind the GOP’s Pro-Israel, anti-2 State Platform

Monday, July 18th, 2016

{Originally posted to the JNS website}

Amid the intrigue and speculation over the upcoming Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, one item that the party has settled is its firm support for Israel and opposition to a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On Tuesday, the Republican Platform Committee unanimously approved a number of significant changes to its platform in an attempt to further set the party’s pro-Israel credentials apart from the Democrats, who are facing concerns over their party’s future support for the Jewish state. The GOP’s platform changes included removing language encouraging a two-state solution as well as reinstating a reference to an “undivided” Israel that was previously included in the party’s 2008 platform, but was removed in 2012.

“The U.S. seeks to assist in the establishment of comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, to be negotiated among those living in the region,” the approved amendment said. “We oppose any measures intended to impose an agreement or to dictate borders or other terms, and call for the immediate termination of all U.S. funding of any entity that attempts to do so.”

Alan Clemmons, a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives and a Republican convention delegate, conveyed his disappointment over the 2012 GOP convention, when the platform committee chose not to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.

“I was a delegate at the last RNC, but was not on the platform committee. I observed the platform committee process and proposed language similar to the language that was passed today (July 12). Unfortunately, that language gained no traction and it went nowhere on the platform, and as a matter of fact the platform regressed in terms of support for Israel,” Clemmons told JNS.org.

The push to bolster the Republican Party’s language on Israel follows a four-year effort by Clemmons and Joseph Sabag, the former executive director of the Israel Allies Foundation. Both leaders sought to reach out to the party’s base—evangelical Christians—as well as to Jewish and other ethnic groups to reach a consensus on the GOP’s pro-Israel stance.

“Between Joseph and myself, we talked to pastors that represent literally millions of evangelical Americans,” said Clemmons.

Although evangelical support was a significant factor in crafting the 2016 RNC platform, Clemmons said the party “didn’t leave the Jewish population out of that mix.”

“We met with many of prominent movers and shakers in the Jewish community throughout the United States, and Israel as well,” he said.

According to Clemmons, two more recent alliances that made a significant impact on drafting and approving the platform’s Israel language were with David Friedman and Jason Dov Greenblatt, senior Israel advisers for presumptive nominee Donald Trump’s campaign.

“Those gentleman appreciated what we were doing. They appreciated the language that was being offered and presented it to Mr. Trump, who likewise was very interested in being of assistance in this process,” Clemmons said.

Clemmons, in his platform committee speech prior to this week’s vote, said that along with Trump’s advisers and leading policy experts, he “was able to present platform language that captures the true sentiment of pro-Israel supporters everywhere.”

The Trump campaign’s Friedman told JNS.org that getting the pro-Israel language on Jerusalem reinstated “was a collaborative effort with a lot of people whose hearts were in the right place with respect to Israel. I think the outcome speaks for itself.”

“It’s the most pro-Israel platform that either party has ever issued, so we’re obviously very proud of the accomplishment,” he said.

The Trump campaign’s involvement in reinstating the platform language may also signal a move by the candidate to bolster his pro-Israel credentials, amid questions over his past statements on remaining “neutral” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and accusations of anti-Semitism stemming from his recent Twitter post featuring what critics called a Jewish Star of David.

Friedman said that Trump has been working very hard to “lay that issue to rest over the last couple of months.”

“Mr. Trump himself has said, over and over again, that he is a highly pro-Israel candidate—not just in comparison to Hillary Clinton, where the differences are stark—but even in absolute terms, he’s a very pro-Israel candidate,” he said.

The GOP platform “should lay that issue to rest,” said Friedman, who argued that the Trump campaign’s work on the Israel language highlight the candidate’s ability to work with leaders across different faiths and ethnicities to achieve a common goal.

“When people criticize [Trump] for being polarizing, I think just the opposite is true. This was an effort which unified people of different faiths, all united behind a desire to support Israel,” Friedman said.

One of the groups that the Trump campaign worked with closely on the platform was the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition (HILC), a group that seeks to engage Latino Christians in support of Israel. HILC is a subsidiary of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC).

Pastor Mario Bramnick, president of HILC, told JNS.org that Trump and his advisers “were very strong on the importance of this language [on Israel]. And through discussions, the language was finalized…[and] ultimately approved by a unanimous vote.”

“We are very encouraged by the resolve and support of Mr. Trump and his advisers on the issue,” said Bramnick, who is also a regional vice president for the NHCLC. “We had worked with the platform committee leadership regard the reinserting of the language as a united Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the nation of Israel, and the moving of the embassy to Jerusalem should the Republican candidate win the presidency.”

Clemmons, the South Carolina state lawmaker, affirmed the roles of Bramnick and HILC, calling them a “very big part” of the process to reinstate the platform language.

“[Bramnick] certainly has a large congregation and a prominent following, and a good feel for the respect that evangelical Christians have for Israel. He was certainly a partner in all of this. That’s not unlike the other pastors around the country who were a part of it as well,” Clemmons said.

The push for the revised platform language was also backed by Pastor John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel (CUFI) non-profit through its separate 501(c)(4) lobbying affiliate, the CUFI Action Fund.

In a letter (first reported by JNS.org) that was sent to Republican convention delegates on July 6, former Ronald Reagan administration official Gary Bauer, director of the CUFI Action Fund, called for the Republican platform to “strengthen its language in support for Israel with Jerusalem as Israel’s ‘undivided, enteral’ capital.”

Bramnick praised CUFI’s role in the process, saying the group “worked very hard behind the scenes to make sure that a very strong supportive platform language came forth from the Republican Party, especially as it pertains to a united Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel.”

For evangelical Christians, support for Israel is not only a political stance, but a theological one. As such, working to strengthen the Republican Party’s ties with the Jewish state is a highly prioritized process for that faith community moving forward.

“There was a Pew [Research Center] report back in 2013 that said that 82 percent of the evangelical community believes that God has given the land of Israel to the Jewish people, and we read that literally,” Bramnick said. “We believe that is a biblical covenant and mandate that really no person has the right to revoke….For the evangelical community, this is very important.”

{By Shalle’ McDonald/JNS.org}

JNS News Service

Rumor: AIPAC Meddling in GOP Platform to Tone-Down Pro-Israel Language

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Alan Clemmons, a member of the GOP Platform committee, who on Monday wrote on his Facebook page that he was “honored to propose a strong Israel Plank of the GOP Platform” (See Lori Lowenthal Marcus’s report in today’s Jewish Press), also mentioned that “unfortunately, the saga is not over. The rumor is that AIPAC is trying to recruit surrogates on the Committee to oppose and weaken our strong Israel Plank language tomorrow when it comes before the full committee for approval.”

Last week, the Washington Free Beacon revealed that “AIPAC pursued a quiet campaign to weaken pro-Israel language in the Republican Party’s 2012 platform.” According to the WFB, “AIPAC-backed changes to the 2012 platform included the removal of support for an ‘undivided’ Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as well as the removal of language calling for the relocation of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem,” ostensibly to insure a balance on Israel between the Democratic and the Republican platforms.

AIPAC’s success in weakening the 2012 pro-Israel language left some Republicans angry, according to sources who told the Free Beacon that the fight over the platform’s Israel language is likely to renew next week in Cleveland.

AIPAC denied working to cool down the pro-Israel language in the 2012 GOP platform.

But Jeff Dunetz, writing for The Lid, reported Monday that he “was able to contact another person involved with the committee who [confirmed] that they too heard that AIPAC is working on a full court press to roll back the 2016 GOP language.”

Jeff Ballabon, chairman of Iron Dome Alliance, who told the Jewish Press‘ Lori Lowenthal Marcus on Monday evening that AIPAC “is amongst the most firmly pro-Two States,” and that “Republican pro-Israel legislators have grown increasingly less enthusiastic about AIPAC,” also told Jeff Dunetz that he is “personally familiar with a number of instances where AIPAC lobbied against Israel’s clear interests and stated policies in pursuit of their own agenda.”

Clemmons, who posted a link to the Dunetz story on his Facebook page, called on his fellow registered Republican Jews: “If you know any Platform Delegates please send them a note to STAND STRONG FOR ISRAEL!!!”

At this point, these are only rumors based on last week’s story about AIPAC and the 2012 GOP platform language. It should be said that, even if AIPAC denies the new rumor, which they probably will, their involvement in preventing a war between the GOP and DNC over who is more pro-Israel is understandable. Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have attempted to make Israel the battlefield where the two sides in this election would fight each other, and no one in their right mind would want this — especially not a political PAC investing in ongoing, day in and day out pro-Israel lobbying.

David Israel

The Terrorist Defender And The Democrats’ Platform

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

After 9/11 and Paris and the beheadings on the beach, after San Bernardino and Charlie Hebdo and the burning of the pilot in the cage, after all the savage terrorist attacks of recent years – you would think the last person the Democrats would choose to help write their platform would be one of the most vocal defenders of a notorious Palestinian terrorist.

But that’s what they just did.

This sad story begins on May 14, 1979. Chaim and Chaya (Irene) Mark, a couple from Connecticut who had immigrated to Israel, were stepping out of a restaurant in the central marketplace of Tiberias when a huge bomb exploded.

“I was hit in the chest and knocked down,” Chaim later recalled. “When I got up, I saw my wife with a leg and arm nearly blown off.”

Two Israeli children were killed in the bombing and 36 other people were maimed. Mrs. Mark spent a year and half in the hospital, undergoing countless surgeries. She was left severely handicapped.

A few weeks later, one of the terrorists involved in the bombing was captured by Israeli police. He confessed to having constructed the bomb and he named one of his PLO comrades, Ziad Abu Eain, as the one who planted it.

Eain had already fled to Chicago – not exactly the behavior of an innocent person. When the FBI came knocking at the Chicago apartment where he was staying, he denied he was Ziad Abu Eain – again, not the kind of response one would expect from an innocent person.

Israel asked the U.S. to hand him over. Eain fought extradition. He used what I call the have-my-cake-and-eat-it-too defense: he denied his guilt and at the same time argued that the bombing was a “political offense.”

That’s right: murdering two Israeli children and crippling a Connecticut housewife was a “political” act.

In jailhouse interviews with the media, in fact, Eain brazenly defended the bombing. He told the Chicago Reader (June 18, 1981) that the Tiberias murders were a justified response to Israeli strikes on PLO targets in Lebanon: “The bombing was like a message. We are still doing something to help you have your freedom.”

Who was Eain’s loudest supporter? James Zogby, who at the time was the founding director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. The very first action undertaken by Zogby with the AADC was to launch a campaign of protests, lobbying, and newspaper ads opposing the extradition of Eain.

Soon afterward, Zogby became active in Democratic Party politics, as deputy manager of Jesse Jackson’s 1984 and 1998 presidential campaigns, then later as “Senior Adviser on Ethnic Outrage” for Al Gore in 2000 and Barack Obama in 2008. Since 2001, Zogby has been a member of the Democratic National Committee.

And last week, he was named as one of the 17 members of the committee that will draft this year’s Democratic Party platform. (He was chosen by Sen. Bernie Sanders, who’d been allotted several slots to fill on the platform-writing committee.)

In his efforts on behalf of the Tiberias bomber, Zogby charged that extraditing Eain would create a dangerous precedent for handing over individuals accused of “political crimes.” Zogby also played the race card. He told the Washington Post (July 24, 1981): “The only way to account for the State Department’s and the U.S. attorney’s behavior in this case is the fact that Ziad Abu Eain is an Arab.”

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected those claims and ordered Eain extradited. The New York Times applauded the extradition. In a lead editorial, it said the “political offense” argument could not be accepted in such a case, since “the crime attributed to Mr. Eain was planting a bomb in a crowded market where children were celebrating Independence Day.”

Zogby was so passionate in support of Eain that even after the bomber was extradited he continued mobilizing AADC members to send letters of protest to the State Department and the Israeli Embassy.

To this day Zogby has never expressed a word of remorse for his crusade on behalf of the Tiberias bomber.

Eain was tried, convicted of murder, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Three years later, he was released in a prisoner exchange. So what did Mr. Innocent do when he was set free? Just two months later, he was arrested for conspiring with other terrorists to hijack an Israeli bus. He spent three more years in prison. When the Oslo accords were signed, Eain, like many terrorists, accepted a senior position in the Palestinian Authority. Evidently he finally recognized the value of “working from within.”

James Zogby, too, understands how effective he can be from “the inside.” Drafting the Democratic Party’s platform plank on Israel will have a lot more influence than organizing petitions on behalf of a Palestinian terrorist with American blood on his hands.

Most people have forgotten about Ziad Abu Eain, the two Israeli children he murdered, and the Connecticut housewife he maimed for life. But the American Jewish community should neither forget nor forgive. Someone who defended a terrorist who harmed Americans should not be rewarded with an influential role in the Democratic Party.

Stephen M. Flatow

Bernie Sanders’s Platform Committee Choices

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders created a stir by announcing his five choices to sit on the Democratic National Convention Platform Committee, which will draft policy positions the party’s candidates for office on various levels are expected to embrace this November.

Sen. Sanders’s slate includes three longtime champions of the Palestinian cause: James Zogby, Prof. Cornel West, and Rep. Keith Ellison, one of two Muslim members of Congress. The other two Sanders picks are environmental activist Bill McKibben and Native American activist Deborah Parker.

(There are fifteen members of the platform committee. Hillary Clinton was given six slots to fill and she chose mainstream liberal Democrats; the remaining four positions will be decided by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the national convention chair.)

Sen. Sanders himself has in significant part embraced the Palestinian narrative and declared that he wants the U.S. to be more “even-handed” in the Middle East. He has strongly criticized Israel’s settlement policy and characterized Israel’s responses to Palestinian terrorism as “disproportionate.”

So it is clear that a President Sanders would actively seek to substantially alter the strong – and largely unique – decades-long relationship between Israel and the United States. And his platform committee choices seem calculated to ensure that the relationship is placed under a spotlight at the convention – perhaps in the form of a floor fight – even if, as expected, he will not be the Democratic presidential nominee.

Indeed, we still recall the brouhaha that erupted at the 2012 Democratic National Convention when it became known that several key pro-Israel platform passages were not carried over from prior platforms. One of those passages – support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – was eventually restored to the platform, but only after an embarrassed chairman ignored three voice votes that indicated a robust number of delegates were in fact not prepared to do so.

Sen. Sanders will almost certainly not be the Democratic presidential nominee. But the fact that younger Democrats overwhelmingly favor his radical positions to those of Hillary Clinton is a troubling sign for Americans who support a strong U.S. presence in the world and a close U.S.-Israel alliance.

Editorial Board

Sanders Picks Pro-Palestinian Zogby for Democratic Platform Committee

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Sen. Bernie Sanders has picked James Zogby, a long-time pro-Palestinian activist, and Cornel West, a liberal—and very entertaining—racial justice activist, to be among his representatives on the Democratic party’s platform committee. This may be a signal that Sanders intends to pursue a radical policy on both the Israeli-Arab conflict and on African-American issues at the convention and beyond.

Sanders will have a great deal of influence on the Democratic Party platform this year, which is a considerable honor regardless of how much use anyone has for party platforms once the November vote is over.

According to the AP, the two Democratic candidates and the DNC have agreed on a new division of the 15-member platform committee, with Clinton picking six members, Sanders five, and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz four.

James Zogby is the founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a Washington, DC organization serving as a political and policy research arm of the Arab-American community. He is Managing Director of the Zogby polling service.

David Israel

FIFA to Rebuild Hamas Rocket Launching Site

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Jerome Valcke, the secretary-general of FIFA (the International governing body of Soccer) has pledged to rebuild the Gaza soccer stadium that was destroyed by Israel in Operation Pillars of Defence.

On the FIFA site they write,

“We see it our mandate to rebuild football infrastructure which has been destroyed. We will also rebuild the stadium in Gaza, which has been destroyed. Football brings people together and we will support any re-construction necessary when football infrastructure is destroyed through disasters.”

The IDF targeted the Gaza soccer stadium on November 19, 2012, as its field constituted a dual-purpose platform, the first was obviously soccer, while the second use was as a launching pad for long-range rockets that hit Tel Aviv and Gush Etzion (while aiming for Jerusalem).

Hamas uses civilian areas for weapons and terror staging grounds, as well as “human shields” as a matter of policy.

The IDF said it wonders if FIFA is aware that the stadium was used as a rocket launching site.

There’s no word at this time if FIFA plans to also rebuild the launch infrastructure for the Fajr-5 rockets when it rebuilds the rest of the stadium.

Jewish Press News Briefs

On the Guardian’s Opinion Section: Hamas Propoganda

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

IDF strikes on Nov. 18 knocked out the Hamas television stations Al Aqsa and Al Quds in Gaza, but Hamas leaders were likely not too concerned, and knew they could always count on Plan B: Propagandizing at the Guardian.

In fact, later that same day, Nov. 18, a ‘Comment is Free’ essay by the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, Musa Abumarzuq, was published – one out of several members of the Islamist terror group who has been published by the paper which aspires to be the ‘world’s leading liberal voice.’

Other than Abumarzuq, who published a previous essay at CiF in 2011, the list includes Hamas ‘Prime Minister’ Ismail Haniyeh, their head of international relations Osama Hamdan, and their ‘advisor‘, Azzam Tamimi.

Abumarzuq’s piece, ‘We in the Gaza Strip will not die in silence,’ is full of unserious, vitriolic claims befitting a group whose founding charter cites the antisemitic forgery ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ as “proof” that Jews indeed are trying to take over the world.

However, Abumarzuq also advances a narrative of Israeli villainy which had already found fertile ground within the Guardian coven of “journalists” and commentators.  Echoing the “analysis” of  Harriet SherwoodSimon TisdallAhdaf Soueif, and Jonathan Freedland, on the “real reasons” for Israeli operation ‘Pillar of Defense,’ the Hamas apparatchik writes the following:

“With the approach of the Israeli elections, the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, wanted to trade with the blood of the Palestinians, especially after his alliance with the ultra-extremist Avigdor Lieberman failed to boost his popularity in the polls as he’d expected. This is not the first time the Israelis have launched a war for electoral gain. Shimon Peres did it to Lebanon in 1996 and the Olmert-Livni-Barak alliance did it to Gaza in 2008.”

Interestingly,  Abumarzuq’s rhetoric is restrained compared to Ahdaf Soueif (a frequent CiF contributor) who, in her piece, literally accused Israeli leaders of murdering Palestinian children for political gain.

Turning to the issue of supreme concern to the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, “human rights”, Abumarzuq complains thus:

“The human rights that Europe claims to defend all over the world are denied to the Palestinian people.”

Which freedoms are cruelly denied to Palestinians, per Abumarzuq?

“The right of people to resist occupation and confront aggression is guaranteed to all peoples; but if Palestinians seek to exercise this right it immediately becomes terrorism and for this they must be persecuted.”

Yes, of course. The Palestinians’ ‘universal’ right of “resistance”, murdering civilians with impunity, is stymied by their cruel Jewish oppressors.

Abumarzuq then adds the following:

“The Israeli military attacks on Gaza did not stop after the last Gaza war. Since 2009, 271 Palestinians have been killed, compared to three Israeli deaths.”

The numbers he cites about Israeli deaths are incorrect.

There have been 3 Israeli deaths since Nov. 14, when operation ‘Pillar of Defense’ began, but the Israeli death toll from Gaza terror attacks since 2009 is 13, not 3.

While you can contact the Guardian’s readers’ editor, Chris Elliott, at readers@guardian.co.uk, to request that Abumarzuq’s lie be corrected, perhaps you should consider asking Mr. Elliott a more pertinent question:

How does he reconcile the ‘progressive’ politics he and the paper he works for evidently aspire to with their decision to continue providing a platform to violent religious extremists who represent ultra right-wing values on issues such as democracy, freedom of the press, the rights of women, gays, and religious minorities?

Though I don’t expect anything resembling an honest answer from Elliott, he and his colleagues need to be confronted with the mounting evidence of their supreme moral hypocrisy.

Visit CifWatch.com.

Adam Levick

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/cifwatch/on-the-guardians-opinion-section-hamas-propoganda/2012/11/21/

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