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Dems Leave Jerusalem Off Party Platform

The Romney campaign wigs out on cue

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The Democratic National Convention met with one of its first controversies yesterday as the newly-unveiled party platform parted with its 2008 language on the status of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The new platform actually featured no mention of Jerusalem at all.

Here’s what the 2008 version said:

“Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

Various groups circulated talking points yesterday insinuating that the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC had apparently signed off on the language used in the platform. The Huffington Post was one that bit:

But the aide and a second source affiliated with the party — both of whom were not authorized to speak on the drafting process — added that officials with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the hardline pro-Israel interest group, had reviewed and approved the language prior to its finalization.

“They loved it,” said the aide who worked on the platform.

Spokesmen for AIPAC did not immediately return a request for comment.

As a colleague pointed out, it’s probably this last line that matters most. If you’re going to say that AIPAC loves something–and AIPAC ain’t shy about much–it really ought to be on the record. While it’s not the official Democratic party response, whispers of AIPAC’s approval haven’t fended off a deluge of criticism that was quick in coming.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor called on supporters of Israel to “to condemn the president’s abrupt break with our closest ally in the Middle East.”

The platform wasn’t exactly a break with Israel though. As Haaretz pointed out:

This year, three paragraphs simply titled “The Middle East”, started with a lengthy declaration of support for Israel and President Obama’s steps to ensure the Israeli military’s qualitative edge.

Peace was mentioned only in the second paragraph, with several caveats in Israel’s favor, stressing that “the President has made clear that there will be no lasting peace unless Israel’s security concerns are met,” “President Obama will continue to press Arab states to reach out to Israel” and “even as the President and the Democratic Party continue to encourage all parties to be resolute in the pursuit of peace, we will insist that any Palestinian partner must recognize Israel’s right to exist, reject violence, and adhere to existing agreements.”

Republican nominee Mitt Romney also expressed dismay “that the entire Democratic Party has embraced President Obama’s shameful refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” adding:

“Four years of President Obama’s repeated attempts to create distance between the United States and our cherished ally have led the Democratic Party to remove from their platform an unequivocal acknowledgment of a simple reality.”

The reality might not be so simple though. The issue of Jerusalem has been impacted by a number of factors in the last three-and-a-half years including, but not limited to, the death of the peace process, Iran’s nuclear program and the Arab Spring, diplomatic lethargy by the Palestinian Authority, Israeli intransigence resoluteness, unrelenting rocket fire from Hamas, and the Jewish building up of East Jerusalem.

But none of these are the reason the party left it off the platform. Candidates have a long history of ‘talking brash’ on Jerusalem on the campaign, but not following through in office. As the Huffington Post explained:

Promising to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem and recognize that city as the formal capital of Israel has long been a popular presidential campaign theme — until the actual work of governing sets in. In 1999, presidential candidate George W. Bush repeatedly promised to move the embassy, but never did so in eight years in office; presidential candidate Bill Clinton had made the same promises eight years earlier.

To drive the point home, here’s the last word from Walter Russell Mead:

Hungry for story lines, any story lines, the press has occasionally tried to gin a little bit of drama out of fights over the party platform, but the honest truth is that no party platform means anything in American politics anymore. No president refers back to the platform in framing legislation, no congressional leader uses it to set the legislative agenda, no living soul ever reads or quotes it for any purpose whatever. No historian of American party politics goes back to study them, no journalist refers to them more than a week after the convention. They are dead letters, produced out of a sense of ritual and to the extent they have any purpose whatever, they are idle playgrounds aimed at keeping clueless party zealots busy counting coup and scoring imaginary points. Party counts for very little in America today, and their platforms count for even less. Presidential candidates don’t feel bound by them in the slightest, and they shouldn’t.

Conventions: What Are They Good For? [American Interest]
DNC Israel Platform Reviewed, ‘Loved’ By AIPAC, sources say [HuffPo]
U.S. Democratic Party removed reference to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital from official platform [Haaretz]
Jerusalem capital plank not included in DNC platform [Politico]

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“The Romney campaign wigs out on cue” — what an insulting line; the Obama administration has back-pedaled from so many of the supposedly “moderate” positions he claimed when first running for president, from claiming to support traditional marriage to support for Israel. His treatment of Israel is shameful, and your denigration and failure to recognize the pattern and significance of his shabby treatment of Israel shows how ignorant you are and how little you care about this vital geopolitical circumstance.

Try to get a little education by reading the always informed and articulate Bret Stephens:

Is Tablet supposed to be a friendly publication to the Jewish community? Or are you a web version of JStreet?

    brynababy says:

    Your analysis of the President’s “treatment” of Israel makes me wonder what planet you’re on. He has done more for Israel than any other President before him,. you idiot!

      Pam Green says:

      Yet again, all you can do is insult people who, unlike you, have taken the time to investigate the matter before coming to an opinion. You’re the one living in a fantasy world, and you are determined to stay there! You don’t want anything to burst your little bubble, because then you might actually have to do something! Do you play with dolls too? Do you decorate their dollhouses? People like you who live in denial are actually immoral.

Well, AC is proving himself to be a worthy successor to Mark Tracy, sweeping under the rug anything that just might hint that the demigod Obama isn’t exactly Israel’s best friend ever.

First of all, AIPAC ultimately did issue a statement making it clear they had nothing to do with the platform and that indeed they do not like it. Even senior Obama-on-Israel apologist Alan Dershowitz is troubled not only by the absence of the Jerusalem is Israel’s capital affirmation but even more so by the elimination of the statement that the Palestinian refugees will be absorbed by a future Palestinian state and NOT by Israel (a previous Demoplatform provision currently deleted that AC either assiduously ignored or conveniently forgot).

What AC or WRM for that matter are missing is that eliminating the pro-Israel J’lem & refugee position from the Demo platform is symbolic, just as having it in was symbolic, and symbolism is very important and powerful in the Middle East. Israelis have learned this the hard way. The Pals may not admit it publicly now but they are carefully noting this and waiting with bated breath to see if Obama will acheive his promised “flexibility” after 6 November.

And now it seems that Sen. Chuck Schumer is publicly distancing himself from this aspect of the platform. Clearly he is ain’t stupid and definitely not suicidal.

For a more realistic, intelligent, but less politically correct analysis of this (including the video of Schumer being questioned on the topic) see here:

and here:


J’lem / Efrata

    Pam Green says:

    From the Schumer video, it would seem that he was blindsided by this, along with AIPAC. He all but states that he wasn’t consulted and didn’t see this coming.

If anyone believes that the change in the platform was unintentional, then there’s a bridge for sale called the ”Brooklyn Bridge”.

PhillipNagle says:

Platforms are unimportant. They are usually just a acknowledgement that a certain group has importance to a political group. By taking out much of the pro Israel language that was in the 2008 platform, Obama is telling the Jews they no longer matter to the Dems. It is a slap in the face.

Mr. Chandler goes to great lengths to spin the Democratic Party’s removal of Jerusalem and defensible borders from its party platform as non substantive, but it is and does represent a break with Israel and the Democratic Party’s once laudable support for Israel. This is not about Romney “wigging out,” or the GOP, they did not remove Jerusalem from their platform, the Democratic Party did. Platforms are not necessary determinative of how the Party will govern, but they are important in that they tend to represent passionate factions in the Party. There’s a growing faction in the Democratic Party that’s hostile to Israel, unfortunately President Obama is a member of that faction.

Supporting Israel SHOULD be BiPartisan, and was until yesterday – it’s incumbent upon everyone who cares about the safety and security of the Jewish state to pressure the DNC until the Democrats put the language about Jerusalem and defensible borders back in its platform. Until then, the hostility to Israel is the offical posotion of the Democratic Party and that matters, no matter how much Mr. Chandler attempts to minimize it.

Pam Green says:

The HuffPost and, by extension, Tablet got the facts wrong. According to, it is a matter of American law that Jerusalem is recognized as Israel’s capital. “In 1995 Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act endorsing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and requiring the US Embassy to move to Jerusalem. But Congress gave the executive branch an out, every six months the State Department/President can request and receive an automatic waiver…. Clinton, Bush and Obama all duly requested the waivers every six months but Bush’s contained the language, ‘My Administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem.’ The Obama administration removed that phrase from their waiver requests.”

So, in effect, Obama’s reversal on this policy actually began six months into his presidency.

DevilInPgh says:

Apparently, the wig-out was not just from Republicans, because the DNC took it very seriously and admitted that they majorly screwed up.


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Dems Leave Jerusalem Off Party Platform

The Romney campaign wigs out on cue

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