The Democrats have now released their 2020 platform, and it most emphatically is “not good for the Jews.” Not only does it directly threaten the Jewish state, but it does so duplicitously and cynically. It employs double-talk calculated to heighten the antagonism between America’s liberal Jews and Israel. It pays passing lip-service to opposing antisemitism, but only in the gaslighting way Linda Sarsour, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib do; to deny it where it exists and point fingers in other directions. Finally, on the very final page of the very last section, it reveals the party’s consensus Israel policies as negotiated between the “Biden wing” establishment and “Sanders wing” upstarts.
The platform is so bad—from Israel’s perspective—that America’s leading anti-Israel voices have risen to cheer it. The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) “applauded” it unreservedly for its “forward leaning” approach to the Middle East. James Zogby of the Arab American institute declared it a “win.” For those unfamiliar with these actors, NIAC supports the positions and policies of Iran’s theocratic, genocidal regime. Zogby has spent decades supporting, and serving as an apologist for, every Arab movement dedicated to Israel’s destruction. Progressives in general have agreed with NIAC: They see the platform as “a step forward.” Forward, of course, is subjective; it depends on where you want to go. Viewed objectively, Joe Biden and the Democrats are moving the party away from Israel and toward those who seek its destruction. To maintain at least some semblance of deniability, however, they have taken that step diplomatically. Employing chillingly sanitized rhetoric, the Democrats have officially moved in this election well beyond the merely anti-Israel and deeply into the realm of the undeniably antisemitic.
A disclosure before diving into the substance of the platform: We were directly involved in drafting the language that became the Republican Party platform’s watershed 2016 Israel plank, unanimously adopted to standing ovation and widely referred to as “the most pro-Israel ever.” It was a non-partisan exercise, and we were extremely gratified when our approach was embraced enthusiastically by the GOP and its nominee, Donald Trump. Given the obvious anti-Israel trajectory of Democrats, we had no real expectation that it would be met with as much zeal by their platform committee, although we would have been ecstatic had both parties adopted it then or now.
We believe in the self-evident rationality, morality, and American interests of our approach. The evidence of its success – and virtually everything President Trump has done in this arena is wholly consistent with the platform’s innovations – is manifest in the previously unimaginable leaps and bounds by which Israel is now being accepted and integrated by Arab and Muslim states. We take credit for none of those results; that belongs entirely to the president who has led this real-world change. We are just pleased that the far-reaching policy correctives we have been arguing for are proving successful and that we played a significant role in clarifying and conveying them in a way conducive to political party consensus.
Our fervent, fading hope was—and is—that elements yet remaining in an increasingly hostile Democratic Party might feel empowered to engage in a struggle to reverse their own party’s course. Unfortunately, the Democrats’ 2020 platform, as currently constituted, lurches even further to the left. It appears to be a toxic combination of progressive principle and partisan politics. It is clear that progressive elements hold unique antipathy towards Jews. We have described why elsewhere; it’s too complex a subject for this piece. Our glimmer of hope lay with the old guard, the establishment. Sadly, it appears that – set aside supporting Israel – even the issue of rising antisemitism and threats to Jewish survival have been overwhelmed by a single-minded mandate to oppose Trump at all costs. Thanks to President Trump, Israel stands today closer to peace than at any time in its history. But today’s Democrats seem to believe that if President Trump and the GOP stand strong for Israel and the Jews, it is incumbent upon Democrats to run hard in the other direction. The 2020 Platform reflects that tragic thinking.
The Democrats’ trend of sympathizing with Israel’s terrorist enemies started in earnest in the aftermath of Oslo, a rewriting of history, which led to rewriting priorities. It roared to life, however, with the first post-Oslo Democrat Administration, that of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, when decades of bipartisan norms were abandoned, all to Israel’s disadvantage. The 2020 Democrats intend to resume and continue this disastrous deviation from longstanding principles precisely where Barack Obama and Joe Biden left off.
President Obama entered office determined to terminate the decades-old US policy ensuring “no daylight” and “no surprises” between the allies. Beyond merely revealing Israeli intelligence and sabotaging operations, Obama’s “daylight” broke immediate new ground not only between the US and Israel, but between his Administration’s definition of “Two-State Solution” and any prior understanding of the term – except perhaps Yasir Arafat’s. The Obama Administration cast Palestinian independence not as strategic contingency, but as a matter of right. Obama inverted American priorities – statehood was not an enormously risky incentive in a process aimed at creating peace and security for all, but was an unconditional matter of justice and right, wrongfully withheld by Israel.
A correspondingly inverted set of narratives, policies, and loyalties flowed from there. Over the next eight years, the antipathy towards Israel emanating from Obama, Biden, Clinton, Kerry, and the rest of the administration became increasingly dangerous and increasingly explicit. Though claiming to be “pro-Israel,” they repeatedly demonized Israel’s dominant center-right Likud party and its popular leader, Bibi Netanyahu. When that attempt at scapegoating didn’t suffice – a solid majority of Americans deplored the “Iran deal” – they went on to blame American Jews.
That’s right: The rising strain of antisemitic tropes and threats in national Democratic politics, antisemitic classics like dual loyalties, Jewish money and power, that animate characters like Omar and Tlaib was already being foreshadowed – and normalized – by the Obama Administration’s swipes at Israel and Jews. By the time they left office, this narrative had become the Democrats’ new norm: the establishment’s anti-Israelism became deniable as merely “anti-Netanyahu” or “anti-Likud” while the progressives’ antisemitism became sanitized as “intersectionality” or “anti-Zionism.” As for actual policy shocks, their odious 2015 Iran Deal strengthened, enriched, and normalized the Islamic Republic over the fearful pleas of Israelis across the political spectrum that such a deal would pose an existential threat. Their 2016 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) neutered Israel’s ability to engage members of Congress who might remain pro-Israel while the White House was in anti-Israel hands. And their parting shot, UN Resolution 2334, criminalized the mere act of living in Judea while Jewish.
Following that, outgoing Secretary of State Kerry announced that were the Democrats ever to rotate back to power, they would punish Israel for its stubborn refusal to be bullied into taking suicidal positions “for the sake of peace.” Biden’s new 2020 platform picks up that Obama Administration baton and runs—hard—in directions destined to do even greater damage. In 2020, Democrats promise to treat Israel not only as a liability, but as an actual enemy. To wit:
The platform proudly embraces the Iran Deal and the MOU. Though it does not mention 2334 and studiously avoids the words “illegal occupation,” its substance makes sense only through a lens that views normal Jewish life in the historic Jewish homeland as criminal and intolerable. Employing an immoral and inhumane neutrality, the platform outrageously equates America’s loyal, liberal, democratic ally Israel with the corrupt, genocidal, anti-American, terrorist PA—an organization committed to perpetuating the squalid misery of the hapless Arabs chafing under its yoke while it mutilates and massacres innocent Jews (and no small number of Americans).
Finally, Democrats promise to “oppose any effort to unfairly single out and delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, while protecting the Constitutional right of our citizens to free speech.” All of which is nice but utterly inconsequential: because the platform doesn’t repudiate UNSC 2334, it incorporates the idea that branding peaceful Jewish resident of the Jewish homeland as international outlaws worthy of boycotts is eminently “fair.”
In other words, the platform’s duplicitousness extends to normalizing the Hamas-led BDS campaign – a massive international campaign of incitement and blood libel that has terrorized Jewish students and faculties on campuses across America. Its carefully crafted language implies (implausibly) there may be some aspects of BDS that do not “unfairly single out and delegitimize Israel.” It also reiterates the bizarre theory that—unlike every other anti-discrimination provision built into American law—opposing BDS may violate the First Amendment. This same spurious argument has been used by Democrats in a number of states to justify their opposition to anti-BDS laws. Contrast this tolerance for anti-Jewish boycotts with the Democrats’ vehement opposition to any boycott they disagree with – for example the right of a bakery or catering hall to decline to render services that violate their religious beliefs in connection with gay weddings, or of religious institutions to subsidize abortions. It’s further noteworthy that when President Trump issued an executive order to extend civil rights protections granted other minorities to protecting Jewish students being victimized on campus thanks to BDS, the Democrats perversely assailed it as “antisemitic,” thus discriminating against Jews in order to defend their assailants. On a call with the vehemently antisemitic group Code Pink, Zogby outright “called the Democrats’ language on BDS a victory for pro-Palestinian groups. “That’s the same as if in the Republican party’s platform they had a plank that said, ‘We are steadfastly opposed to abortion, but every woman has the right to choose.’ Basically, the second clause nullifies the first clause.” Exactly.
It gets worse. The 2020 Democrats’ platform literally equates Jewish homeownership in disputed areas not with Arab homeownership in those same areas, but with Arab terror—effectively casting Jews simply living in a place deemed off-limits to Jews as an affront so grave that it justifies murder. Furthermore, the platform reserves this antipathy for Jewish life in indigenous Jewish territories in which Jews have lived continuously for more than 3,000 years – over 1500 years before Arab conquerors swept in as marauding colonizers – and over which the modern state of Israel possesses legal claims far superior to those of any other entity. In one stroke, the Democrats’ platform thus denies Jewish history, selectively applies law so as to disenfranchise Jews’ rights, endorses the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Judea, and champions the principle of judenrein—a unique Nazi neologism describing a geographic area off-limit to Jews.
We Jews have been here before more than once; the Czars declared the Pale of Settlement precisely to criminalize Jewish existence in Mother Russia. We have been expelled so often and on so many pretexts, that the world has a phrase for it: Wandering Jew. We have been denied the right to live in so many places by so many empires that the world has a phrase for that, too: ghetto.
This time, it seems worse: It’s the position of a major political party in what has been the greatest, most moral, righteous, tolerant, and welcoming of all societies in human history. It’s being promulgated to take effect in the most Jewish of all places on Earth – places called Israel, Judea, and Jerusalem—in a manner most reminiscent of Ancient Rome. It’s being done to advance the agenda of a collective that has displayed no purpose other than genocide of the Jews. And, it’s still within living memory of a horror unique to the Jews that also gave rise to a word: Holocaust.
There is no equivalent American policy applicable to any other ethnic or religious group anywhere in the world. No one would even dare to suggest such an atrocity. Yet here it is, in the platform of a major American political party, applicable only to the Jews and exclusively in the undisputed indigenous Jewish homeland. It’s a nakedly racist, antisemitic policy derived from the progressive left’s defamatory narrative of Israel as a rogue regime and Jews as privileged white European colonialists. It aligns completely with the terrorists’ genocidal program of denying the most fundamental Jewish rights – down to the right to live.
And there is an exquisite cruelty to the Democrats’ agenda that smacks of ancient empires seeking to grind the Jews under their heels: it is their demand that Israel do their evil bidding. In every respect this is intended to break Israel’s back. To punish the Jews for daring to survive. It is the embodiment of the unique loathing reserved by the left for all things Jewish: Jews are not merely possessors of white privilege; Jews are the most privileged of all whites. Israel is not merely a colonialist European oppressor; Israel is the single most vile rogue regime, the only one worth boycotting and sanctioning, an apartheid genocidal blot that needs eradicating. Thus, this platform not only protects the BDS campaign of antisemitic incitement, it endorses its underlying antisemitic libels and demonizations.
Heightening the obscenity of the Democrats’ platform are two bits of cinematic timing. First, the Democrats’ call for a judenrein Judea comes during the annual nine-day period of mourning in which Jews weep over the previous destructions of Jerusalem and banishments from Judea. Second, the Democrats released this platform the very same week they’ve trumpeted their “NOBAN Act” – the House’s vote against a Trump immigration policy they have long demagogued as a “Muslim Ban.” Think of it; against a backdrop of Democrats raging about a purported “Muslim Ban” that does nothing even remotely approaching the banning of Muslims from entering or living in any part of any country, the Democrats proudly pronounce their commitment to enacting an honest to goodness Jewish Ban.
Unconscionable as they are, these unprecedented attacks on Jewish life, dignity, and equality, are not merely a series of independent blows. They serve an even more nefarious purpose. The platform reflects what is now a core narrative shared among Democrats from Biden and the alleged moderates through the proudly Jew-baiting progressives of the Squad: An independent State of Palestine must be installed in Judea and Samaria, unconditionally, as a matter of right. No Jew may live in the territory of that unborn state. That state may, with full American support, continue prosecuting violence against Jews and Israel without consequence. Anything Israel may do to delay or deter its birth—for any reason—is inherently unjust because Israel is Jewish. Presumably the same would hold true for defensive actions against an independent Palestinian state—precisely as President Obama punished Israel for its defensive actions against rocket attacks from Gaza.
Continuing to employ the Obama playbook, 2020 Democrats employ temperate, disingenuous language to make their brutally antisemitic points. Consider this sentence: “Democrats oppose any unilateral steps by either side—including annexation—that undermine prospects for two states.” At first glance, it hardly sounds terrible, even to those who disagree with the policy or the applicability of the term “annexation.” But consider what it might have said: “Democrats oppose any unilateral steps by either side—including annexation—that undermine prospects for peace and security.”
True, this alternative formulation would retain the galling equation of a peace-loving democratic nation and genocidal antisemitic death cult, but at least it would have named a goal worth pursuing for all involved and consistent with fundamental morality and American interests: peace and security. Instead, the carefully crafted language reveals the Democrats’ true goal: forcing Israel to accept the murderous PLO as an independent state – peace and security be damned.
The Democrats’ 2020 platform thus treats the Jews and Israel as pariahs, uniquely worthy of discriminatory treatment. It makes a mockery of the idea that Israel is a sovereign state and an American ally. It rejects the notion that Israel might actually have legitimate security concerns. It empowers terror regimes that have sworn to destroy Israel from without and within. And it goes further and deeper than that. On top of all those assaults on the world’s one and only Jewish state, the Democrats demonstrate precisely zero concern for Israel’s very survival. This platform directly aligns the Biden campaign—and the entire Democrat Party—with Israel’s mortal enemies. After decades of PLO recalcitrance, the Democrats’ acceptance of an unconditional PLO terror state is in all respects the fulfillment of Yasir Arafat’s 1974 “Phased Plan for Israel’s Destruction” – the plan to liberate territory piecemeal, and use every inch of Palestine as a base for a war against the Jews.
The platform also treats Jews as fools. The platform’s choice of words is neither artless nor coincidental. The compromise the 2020 Democrats have reached over Israel is clear: The progressive elements succeeded with a substantive policy that treats Israel as an enemy rogue regime, threatens the Jewish state’s continuing viability, and sets the stage for the continued growth of domestic antisemitism. The establishment elements were awarded leeway to craft duplicitous language to express that policy.
The Democrats’ 2020 Platform is a disaster for Jewish life and the Jewish state. It means that a large and growing swath of America is now content to criminalize living while Jewish and abandon American interests that happen to align with those of the Jewish state.
In the final result, it doesn’t matter whether the Jewish members of Congress and political operatives being trotted out to spin this hideously anti-Jewish platform as “pro-Israel” are self-haters, useful idiots, or cynical mercenaries. What does matter is that an American administration pursuing this agenda would be an existential threat to the Jewish State and continue to foster an antisemitic narrative hostile to Jewish life here at home, as well.