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What the Democratic Party Platform Really Tells Us About Obama and Israel

-- Jerusalem is not mentioned at all. In previous platforms, the Democrats supported the idea of Jerusalem being and remaining Israel’s capital and an undivided city. The platform may adhere to U.S. official policy but not to the party’s historic position and not to the promises Obama made to Jewish voters at AIPAC and elsewhere.

This switch has made headlines in Israel, with even left-wingers angry and upset. '

Note: After a nasty internal fight, language about Jerusalem being the capital of Israel was put into the platform. (The word "God" was also restored.) But the vote was clearly fraudulent since it required a two-thirds' majority to make the amendment and a majority voted against. The vote was held three times and with the majority opposing each time the chairman just lied and said it was adopted.  In other words, the majority of Democratic delegates opposed recognizing Jerusalem--not united Jerusalem even!--as Israel's capital. But it is important to understand that the claim that Obama personally intervened to put in references to Jerusalem and God is clearly a lie. Why? Because if that had happened it would have been announced at the convention, Obama would have benefited politically and the delegates would have voted overwhelmingly for--rather than mostly against--the amendment.

-- Terms of a peace agreement. Previous platforms have clearly stated that Palestinian refugees should be resettled in a state of Palestine. The Palestinian Authority's demand that all Palestinians who want to do so with any historical claim to having been there before 1948 can go and live in Israel (“the right of return”) is not explicitly rejected in the new platform as it was in old ones. This is a very serious matter for all Israeli parties because it is seen as evidence that the Palestinians don't want a two-state solution but the destruction of Israel by flooding it with millions of Palestinians. By no longer explicitly rejecting this notion, the platform removes support for Israel on a critical issue.

-- There is no explicit reference to the Gaza Strip and Hamas, except for the anti-rocket system. Previously, the Democratic 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 no reference to Hizballah 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, Hizballah, and other Salafists and jihadists pose some big problem.

On a number of points, the party tries to take credit for just continuing historic policies or for bipartisan things everyone supported, aid and military cooperation specifically.

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 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. I will leave the Iran issue and U.S. behavior in the UN for your own evaluation regarding this point, but one could compile a long list of items in each case.

Regarding the “peace process,” Obama’s pressing Arab states to move toward peace with Israel lasted a couple of weeks and was never a serious, sustained policy. He has literally never criticized the Palestinian Authority and its behavior nor has he ever pressed them very hard -- that kind of thing is reserved exclusively for the Democratic platform.