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