1) Platform Shmooze
Josh Rogin reported yesterday, Democratic platform drafters defend Israel section:
Changes between the 2008 Democratic Party platform’s language on Israel and the 2012 version were due to a deliberate effort to refocus the platform toward President Barack Obama’s policies, two officials directly involved in its drafting process told The Cable.
Leading pro-Israel groups such as AIPAC were heavily involved in the platform-drafting process, saw final language of the draft platform, and told platform drafters they were satisfied with it, both officials said.
Certain parts of the pro-Israel community are up in arms this week over the fact that the latest version of the platform doesn’t include certain passages from the previous version, such as language affirming that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, specific mentions of the terrorist group Hamas, and language spelling out the party’s position that Palestinian refugees would be settled outside of Israel as part of any comprehensive arrangement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A few hours later he reported Dems change platform to include Jerusalem language after Obama intervened:
After defending their decision to keep such language out of the platform as recently as this afternoon, convention leaders today proposed two amendments to the platform adopted on Tuesday, one to add a mention of God and one to add a mention of Jerusalem.
“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,” the new platform language stated.
An Obama campaign official told The Cable late Wednesday that the change in platform was made to reflect the personal views of Obama, who believes that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and who “personally intervened” to ask for the platform change.
Note, that the second story contradicts the first. If the platform had been vetted by AIPAC officials, would the Democrats have subsequently changed it? Instapundit observed: I think Drudge is trying to suggest that the Dems may be out of touch with Middle America. Embarrassment is a huge motivator.
The question is why did the Democrats leave out the language about Jerusalem?
After deploring the Republican efforts to make an issue of the omission, Shmuel Rosner wrote in If I forget the Jerusalem, oops, the Democrats just did:
Former congressman Robert Wexler was in charge of drafting the text. Wexler is a long-time Obama devotee, and I suspect that his is a case of a man who knows too much. Wexler is the president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, and is invested in the peace process. He has too much of an opinion on the issues to be able to think about the platform with the required simplicity. As he omitted Jerusalem he was thinking – and I’m speculating here – about Israeli-Palestinian negotiation and leaving this issue for the two sides to determine, he was thinking about Obama not taking sides so as not to alienate the Palestinians, he was trying to be smart about it – and ended up damaging the party. Instead of doing the simple, obvious thing, and repeating the 2008 language as not to make waves, Wexler was trying to demonstrate his wits and mastery of the issues.
Rosner if overthinking this. I recently received a Barry Rubin commentary from four years ago.
Senator Barrack Obama’s official statement on Israel’s sixtieth birthday is, on the face of it, good. But it is in fact almost contemptuous. It is boring boiler plate, which could have been written by anyone at any time in the last forty years, with no personal touch.
One thing he doesn’t do is to associate himself personally and his program with Israel. It would have been easy if he cared — or if his campaign saw this as anything but throwing a bone to the Jews — for him to put in something distinctive like: “Israel is living proof that change can happen. It is a country that has always said `Yes, we can!’ despite great obstacles.”
But no, he just puts in a few clichés as if to highlight his belief that he can get away with anything and still keep gullible Jewish voters.
Compare it to Rubin’s recent analysis of the platform fight:
Yet this is a party dominated by a top-down group far more to the left, less friendly to Israel, run more by the Progressive Caucus types in Congress, and using “experts” who are often openly hostile to Israel. They put in the boilerplate to keep the suckers — and party moderates — happy, but also subtly signal that they don’t mean it.
Jeffrey Goldberg mocked the controversy.
In some ways the platform isn’t that important. It won’t dictate how a party, if its candidate is elected, will govern, but it shows the party’s (and candidate’s) priorities. Four years ago Barack Obama wasn’t in a position to dictate the party’s priorities, now, as President, he is. As with Obama’s statement about Israel’s 60th birthday, the bulk of the platform said as little of importance as it could about Israel and used platitudes in the service of that end.
The reason things changed is because Israel is an American issue, and the Democrats realized they were on wrong side politically by leaving out the language on Jerusalem and Hamas (not to mention, God.)
The apparent opposition to the changes in the platform suggests that among Democratic party activists, there isn’t a lot of support for Israel. This is especially ironic after Democratic National Committed chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz falsely quoted Israeli Ambassador Oren saying that Republicans were “dangerous” for Israel.
The change in the platform language really doesn’t change anything. The sentiments originally implied by the omissions represent a significant constituency of the Democratic party including its nominee. For those who are appalled that Republican would point this out as a “wedge” issue when support for Israel is bipartisan, really ought to look up the meaning of “bipartisan.” Support for Israel in the Democratic party is eroding.
Much more at memeorandum.
Elder of Ziyon put the comparable sections of the Democratic and Republican platforms, side by side for comparison. One other thing struck me about the Democratic language:
A just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian accord, producing two states for two peoples, would contribute to regional stability and help sustain Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state.
Who’s to judge the justice or durability of an Israeli-Palestinian accord? More disturbing is the language about “sustain[ing] Israel’s identity.” This is a sanitized version of the argument that Israel must make peace or lose its legitimacy, which puts the onus for peace making on Israel.
Elder of Ziyon also compared the 2008 and 2012 Democratic platforms.