Friday, September 7, 2012

Democrats Flip Flop on Supporting Israel at Democratic National Convention

(my article in YWN print edition pg. 10). Charlotte -- President Obama anticipated a ripe opportunity to bounce back in the lead, by rallying the base and appealing to disappointed voters during the DNC convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Instead, he was forced to personally intervene to reinstate the language in the DNC 2012 party platform, adding the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's 'undivided capital'.

The original 2012 Democratic Party platform had excised all mention of God and Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, which was a dramatic shift from the wording in the 2008 platform. After facing a tremendous amount of pressure from Republicans and Democrats alike, President Obama personally intervened to reinstate the language,mentioning Jerusalem and God in the party platform, the AP reported.

Following a report in the Huffington Post that quoted two DNC sources as claiming AIPAC “loved” the new platform, Adam Kredo from the Washington Free Beacon reported that according to a AIPAC source this is not the case. In fact, AIPAC advocated in favor of preserving the 2004 and 2008 language regarding Jerusalem. “Jerusalem as the capital is Israel was part of the AIPAC submission to the platform committee,” the AIPAC source said.

Democratic lawmakers, and Jewish leaders expressed confusion over their party’s decision to omit several key pro-Israel passages from the Democratic platform, especially in a sensitive time, when the Jewish vote might be crucial in winning Florida and Ohio.  “It was silly not to include it,” Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) told the Washington Free Beacon.

Senator Gillibrand told reporters wednesday morning at the NYS delegation breakfast, that she disagrees with the Democratic Party’s platform. “I disagree with that platform, and I think President Obama, however, can stand strongly on his record. He is a friend of Israel. He cares deeply about Israel’s security," she said.

In an attempt to change the narrative and keep Obama's reelection bid focused on domestic issues, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement on the Democratic Party Platform:

“The platform is being amended to maintain consistency with the personal views expressed by the President and in the Democratic Party platform in 2008. 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 amendment regarding Israel policy on page 63, line 26 included the following: “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.”

At the beginning of the afternoon session, Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio made the motion to change the platform:

"I came before you today to discuss the two important matters related to our party's national platform. As an ordained United Methodist Minister, I am here to attest and affirm that our faith and belief in God is central to the American story and informs the value we have expressed in our party's platform. In addition, President Obama recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and our party's platform should as well. Mr. Chairman, I have submitted my amendment in writing and I believe it is being projected on the screen for the delegates to see. I move adoption of the amendment as submitted and shown to the delegates."

The change didn't go smoothly, as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, the head of the Democratic National Convention, struggled to get the necessary two-thirds vote to change the amendments to the platform. In the first two rounds, chaos broke out in the arena, delegates were split in respectively stating aloud “aye” and “nay.” On the third attempt, a confused Villaraigosa took a voice vote and simply declared, in the “opinion of the chair,” that it had been passed with two thirds of the vote. In a video released, delegates opposing the amendment were heard booing, waving and shouting. CNN reporter Dana Bush was quoted as saying, "It seemed pretty to clear to me that the 'No's' had it."

DNC chair, congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz told CNN that the missing of Jerusalem was simply a 'technical mistake' that was rapidly reinstated.

The switch on Jerusalem was a reflection of the president's personal view, not necessary the policy of his administration, Obama's advisers explained. The administration has long said determining Jerusalem's status was an issue that should be decided by Israelis and Palestinians in peace talks, but has been careful not to state that Jerusalem is Israel's capital.

Republicans, on the other hand argued that not taking a position on Jerusalem's status in the party platform in the first place, showed the president was weak in his support of Israel, and a reflection of his administration's refusal to publicly recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor took the opportunity to question President Obama's strong support of Israel.

“President Obama’s failure to take a coherent and decisive stand in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel reflects his Administration’s vacillating policies toward the Jewish state," Cantor said in a statement released by the Romney campaign. "Today’s floor fight and begrudging platform reversal at the Democratic National Convention should be seen for what it is – a case study in political posturing.  Governor Romney's views stand in sharp contrast to the President's. As president, Governor Romney will restore and protect the close alliance between our nation and the state of Israel," Cantor asserted.

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