Sunday, September 09, 2012

Arlene Kushner On What The Democratic Platform Tells Jews About Obama On Israel

From Arlene Kushner

September 9, 2012

Lessons Learned?

The lessons are for all those who are passionately committed to being Democrats and have never voted anything but... and for those who still want to believe that Obama and the Democratic party are pro-Israel.
The news that a host of planks supportive of Israel, which were in the Democratic platform in 2008, had been cut should have done it for those who long to think of Obama as "pro-Israel."
I covered that ground on September 5, and you can review it here: It's Not Too Late!
But it's only gotten worse for the credibility of the party since then.  What became apparent is that the president and party leaders were so disturbed by the negative press the platform was getting that a mandate came down from Obama to amend it, so that Jerusalem would be recognized as the undivided capital of Israel.
The amendment required a 2/3 voice vote to pass. When Chair Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles, called for the vote, it was apparent to anyone listening that the Yeas and Nays were roughly equal. And so he called for a voice vote again.  And a third time.  But even though it continued to remain clear that there were not 2/3 of the delegates in favor of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Villaraigosa declared the amendment passed, at which point there were boos from some of the delegates.
As if this was not pathetic enough, it must be noted that mention of God had been left out of the platform as well, and was to be reinstated by virtue of that same amendment.  So the delegates were also booing mention of God.
This would be something of a joke, if the implications were not so serious.  However you frame it, the Democrats made a laughing stock of themselves that day at the Convention.
You can see the video of this event here: Flubbed Jerusalem vote mars Democratic convention

Following the "vote," party spokespersons then let it be known that the president ordered that mention of Jerusalem put into the platform because this is his own personal belief (not, you understand, because it was politically expedient).
"The platform is being amended to maintain consistency with the personal views expressed by the President and in the Democratic Party platform in 2008,” declared Party Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (about whom more below).

"Personal views expressed by the President," my foot.  How gullible do party leaders think we all were.  For starters -- is there anyone who really imagines that if Obama believed Jerusalem was Israel's undivided capital it would not have been in the platform in the first place?
But let's look at a bit of recent history:
Four years ago, when Obama was campaigning, he came before AIPAC and declared his support for Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital.  Less than one day later, a member of his campaign staff "explained" that what he meant was that Jerusalem would be the capital of two states, but there would be no barbed wired, no check points between the two capitals, so that people would be able to move back and forth.

Read: The Rise or Fall of American Empire?
This year there have been a number of instances in which the Obama administration was caught in statements or actions that denied Jerusalem the status as capital of Israel.

This spring, a State Department press release stated, "Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Kathleen Stephens is traveling to Algiers, Doha, Amman, Jerusalem, and Israel from March 23 to April 5 to meet with a broad cross-section of government officials..."   (Emphasis added) 
Here Jerusalem isn't even recognized as being part of Israel, capital or not.

On July 26th, Obama's press secretary Jay Carney refused to identify Jerusalem as Israel's capital:

Carney Refuses To Identify Capital Of Israel Twice In White House Press Briefing

Carney's position (i.e., Obama's position) is that this is a final status issue to be determined via negotiations.  But there's a huge flaw in this position: According to "two state" mythology, Jerusalem is to be the capital to two states, with "east" Jerusalem belonging to the Arabs and "west" Jerusalem to Israel.  But then the Obama administration should have no trouble saying that "West" Jerusalem is Israel's capital.  What Obama is doing is nodding to the less explicit but more honest goal of the PA of controlling ALL of Jerusalem.  
Democratic Party Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz maintains that the plank on Jerusalem was left out of the platform due to a "technical oversight." 
I am not making this up, I could not. 
How did it happen?  The platform is "many pages long." 
She actually says this with a straight face, and I want to thank her for the laugh she gave me, although I don't think the Democrats should be laughing.

See: Wasserman Schultz: Jerusalem Being Left Out Of Platform "Technical Oversight"
Wasserman Schultz also managed to say, not once but about half-a-dozen times in the course of a brief statement how proud she is of Obama's strong pro-Israel stance.
Thus I must point out that this great friend of Israel has allowed significant omissions in the platform to stand:  It still does not say that Hamas must be isolated or that "Palestinian refugees" must settle in a Palestinian state (i.e., not in Israel).
Good old Obama.
Barry Rubin's analysis of what the Democratic platform really means for Israel merits a careful reading.  The problems are deep and serious.  (Emphasis added):
"This platform is a combination of 'we love Israel' rhetoric (put in by the politicians?) with some serious policy problems (put in by their advisors?).

"The Democratic response has been denial. Oh, no, there is nothing new or different and the platform corresponds with standard U.S. policy. The first half of that statement is a lie...

"Moreover, this is not some case of working with the left-of-center in Israeli politics. The key issues with this platform go against the Israeli consensus, not just Likud preferences. Finally, while more amusing than damaging, there’s a lot of bragging about things attributed to Obama that are either standard U.S. policy under his predecessors or due to bipartisan action in Congress...

"--There is no explicit reference to the Gaza Strip and Hamas, except for the anti-rocket system. Previously, the platform called for isolating Hamas. Obama undermined this by demanding a reduction in Israeli sanctions after the flotilla incident. By helping a new, Muslim Brotherhood government take power in Egypt—a regime allied to Hamas—Obama has made this the most dangerous front for Israel. The Democratic platform suggests that the party recognizes no specific danger in Hamas.

"--There is also no reference to Hezbollah and its threat to Israel from Lebanon, again except for the anti-rocket system. This threat led to a war in 2006 and poses a constant terrorist threat.

"In other words, this is part of an overall pattern of playing down the threat of revolutionary Islamism or the idea that the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, or other Salafists and Jihadists pose some big problem...

"For me, the most offensive passage is this one:

"'The President's consistent support for Israel's right to defend itself and his steadfast opposition to any attempt to delegitimize Israel on the world stage are further evidence of our enduring commitment to Israel's security.'

"In fact, no president has done more to do less about fighting the delegitimization of Israel by his own statements and actions than has Obama. And in some cases, especially regarding Gaza, he has not really supported Israel’s right to defend itself in practice...

"Finally, past Democratic platforms have clearly taken Israel's side, making it clear that they viewed Israel as the party sincerely trying to resolve the dispute and the other side obstructing a solution. Despite some of its language, this platform is neutral basically...

"...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."
Read: The Democratic Party Platform and Israel: What It Really Tells Us
Committed Democrats and Obama supporters, I hope you've been taking notes.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

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