Democrat’s Shameful “Cave” On Jerusalem – OpEd


In 2008, when Barack Obama was running for president, the Democratic Party thought it prudent to match the Republican Party’s pandering to pro-Israelism by announcing that Jerusalem was, is and would be the eternal and undivided capital of Israel.  It didn’t seem to matter then that U.S. policy for decades has not recognized that city as Israel’s capital.  Our embassy and those of almost every other nation that recognizes Israel are in Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem.

In 2012, the Democrats, having a sitting president who presumably was responsible for upholding U.S. policy, thought it more prudent to take a more pragmatic approach to the issue.  They dropped the language about Jerusalem being Israel’s capital.  This opened them to a Republican attack over the past few days which allowed Romney to trumpet his abject obsequiousness to the Lobby along with his insistence that Jerusalem be named Israel’s capital.  Obama must’ve foreseen a Jewish version of Swiftboating in the making.  He also knew that Sheldon Adelson stood ready to pump $100-million into such a series of attack ads.  So he directed the platform committee to amend that plank in the platform.

Israeli–Palestinian Conflict: Central Israel next to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Israeli–Palestinian Conflict: Central Israel next to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The justification offered by a senior administration source to the NY Times was so vague and non-responsive as to be almost opaque:

…The position of the United States government hasn’t changed in decades as it relates to Israel’s capital and peace negotiations.”

What does this Einstein mean by “Israel’s capital?”  Jerusalem or Tel Aviv?  If the former, the government has never recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  If the latter, how can you square the shameful language of the platform amendment with what is actual U.S. policy?  You can’t.

Acceptance of the initial softer 2012 wording was all the more remarkable, as JTA reports that Aipac had no less than three of its staff in Minneapolis during the entire period when the platform was drafted to ensure the wording satisfied the pro-Israel potentates of the Party and the Lobby.

Those potentates under the direction of their president thought they had a done-deal amending the platform.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum.  When the convention chair asked the delegates to return the Jerusalem recognition wording to the platform, they refused.  And refused again.  And finally, they refused a third time after the chair begged the ayes to have it.  Finally, he ignored the fact that there were an equal number of ayes and noes (the amendment required a two-thirds majority, which it did not get) in the hall and declared the amendment passed.

So much for the so-called Democratic Party rejecting the democratic will of its own delegates.  Dena Shunra reminded me in a tweet that the Only Democratic Party in the U.S. was doing its loyal bit for the Only Democracy in the Middle East.

What does all this mean?  Very little.  But it further shames the Democratic Party (if it wasn’t shamed enough already) and makes one realize that it stands for nothing in particular.  And when reality (in the form of current U.S. policy) stands in the way of political self-preservation, they’ll jettison reality in a heartbeat.  All this makes you realize that the convention is a sham.  It stands for nothing.  Anything said there or inscribed in a party platform means nothing as well.

On a larger scale, nothing Barack Obama ever said that rang true to Americans like me who voted for him in 2008 means anything.  He stood for civil liberties then.  He stood against Guantanamo, against targeted killings, against torture.  He stood for the Constitution.  He’d been a constitutional law professor in college fer chrissakes!  But when it came to governing Obama did almost precisely what Bush had done before him.  He ran one version of himself during the campaign but governed radically different to what he stood for during the campaign.  It’s the transformation from the upstanding Mr. Hyde to the monstrous Dr. Jekyll.

I listened to Michelle Obama rally the troops after her supposedly electrifying performance at the convention last night and when she said to her audience enthusiastically: “Are you IN?”  I responded like a deflated balloon.  In for what?  For pandering to the Israel lobby?  For a do-nothing Middle East policy for the next four years?  For hundreds more targeted killings in Muslim lands?  For wholesale violations of the Constitution?  For witch hunts against whistleblowers and leakers (except those within the Administration itself who leak like a sieve).  Sorry, but I’m not “in” for that.

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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