Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Can You Guess What Israel Points Are Missing From The 2012 Democratic Platform?

The 2012 Democratic Platform is a watered down version of its 2008 Platform when it comes to Israel. If you compare the relevant paragraphs between the two platforms, you will notice points that have been removed.

Can you spot them?
Democratic National Convention, Maryland 1872.
Credit: Wiki Commons

The 2012 Democratic Platform on Israel has the following:
The Middle East. President Obama and the Democratic Party maintain an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security. A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States not simply because we share strategic interests, but also because we share common values. For this reason, despite budgetary constraints, the President has worked with Congress to increase security assistance to Israel every single year since taking office, providing nearly $10 billion in the past three years. The administration has also worked to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region. And we have deepened defense cooperation – including funding the Iron Dome system – to help Israel address its most pressing threats, including the growing danger posed by rockets and missiles emanating from the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. 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.

It is precisely because of this commitment that President Obama and the Democratic Party seek peace between Israelis and Palestinians. 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. At the same time, 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. We will continue to support Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, which have been pillars of peace and stability in the region for many years. 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.
Sounds good, after all -- it basically mirrors the talking points Obama has repeated over and over.

But take a look at the Democratic Platform in 2008:
Stand with Allies and Pursue Diplomacy in the Middle East

For more than three decades, Israelis, Palestinians, Arab leaders, and the rest of the world have looked to America to lead the effort to build the road to a secure and lasting peace. Our starting point must always be our special relationship with Israel, grounded in shared interests and shared values, and a clear, strong, fundamental commitment to the security of Israel, our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy. That commitment, which requires us to ensure that Israel retains a qualitative edge for its national security and its right to self-defense, is all the more important as we contend with growing threats in the region–a strengthened Iran, a chaotic Iraq, the resurgence of Al Qaeda, the reinvigoration of Hamas and Hezbollah. We support the implementation of the memorandum of understanding that pledges $30 billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade to enhance and ensure its security.

It is in the best interests of all parties, including the United States, that we take an active role to help secure a lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a democratic, viable Palestinian state dedicated to living in peace and security side by side with the Jewish State of Israel. To do so, we must help Israel identify and strengthen those partners who are truly committed to peace, while isolating those who seek conflict and instability, and stand with Israel against those who seek its destruction. The United States and its Quartet partners should continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel's right to exist, and abides by past agreements. Sustained American leadership for peace and security will require patient efforts and the personal commitment of the President of the United States. The creation of a Palestinian state through final status negotiations, together with an international compensation mechanism, should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel. All understand that it is unrealistic to expect the outcome of final status negotiations to be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949. 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.
Can you see what the Democratic Party has omitted from their 2008 Platform?
Here are the missing points:
  • Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel
  • Isolation of Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel's right to exist, and abides by past agreements
  • Resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there [in a Palestinian state], rather than in Israel
  • Unrealistic to expect the outcome of final status negotiations to be a full and complete return to the [pre-1967] armistice lines of 1949
Why are these points in the 2008 Democratic Platform, but missing from the 2012 Democratic Platform
Specifically:
  • Ever since Obama backtracked on his support for an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, his administration has continued to send out mixed signals. It is time, now, for the Obama administration to stop beating around the bush and declare its position on Jerusalem -- especially on what is referred to Western Jerusalem, which will unquestionably remain in Israeli hands.

  • The Obama administration has claimed that attempts by the Abbas regime to join with the terrorist group Hamas is merely an internal matter -- as if this would have no impact on the peace process. Is this failure to mention Hamas an outgrowth of the Obama administration's apathy toward the terrorist threat posed by Hamas?

  • A major point of contention is the insistence by Abbas that the descendants of Arab refugees be allowed to live inside Israel -- this at a time that the Palestinian Authority has stated that no Jews would be allowed to live in a Palestinian state. Abbas has made acceptance of this point one of his pre-conditions to negotiations.

  • Considering the importance of boundaries in the peace negotiations, especially to the issue of secure boundaries for Israel, why is there now no mention of this?

  • An additional point:
    • 2008: "We support the implementation of the memorandum of understanding that pledges $30 billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade to enhance and ensure its security." [this memorandum of understanding was signed by Bush in 2007] -- Bush's part is not acknowledged, but neither is credit for it given to Obama.

    • 2012: "despite budgetary constraints, the President has worked with Congress to increase security assistance to Israel every single year since taking office, providing nearly $10 billion in the past three years." The implication is that this is all Obama.
Maybe the answer why these points have not be reiterated in the 2012 Democratic Platform is very obvious: all of these issues point to the failure of the Obama administration to facilitate peace talks. Instead, Obama's term has seen a reversal from the participation of Abbas in peace talks that took place during the Bush term in office. Even the levels of US aid to Israel are result of a initiative that Bush -- not Obama -- finalized.

Is there any reason to think that another 4 years of Obama are going to bring Middle East peace any closer?

Hat tip: RJC National

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