UPDATE 8 am Israel time Thursday:
The last 24 hours have seen an upsurge in “rock” throwing incidents throughout Judea and Samaria with Israeli motorists and IDF soldiers being pelted. At 12:04 am, a resident of Kohav HaShahar was injured when hit by a “rock” thrown by Palestinian terrorists from a moving car. Other motorists have reported emotional trauma. Obviously, numerous vehicles have been damaged.
On Monday night Hamas proudly announced that it had “detained” 20 members of the Salafist cell in Gaza that had claimed to be firing rockets at Israeli communities and had confiscated some 25 rockets. As I have repeatedly pointed out, all of the terror cells in Gaza are under the control of Hamas–and as soon as one stops, another starts–by yesterday there were two more rocket strikes against southern Israel. Overnight an IAF missile strike killed three terrrorists belonging to the al-Quds Brigades–the military wing of Islamic Jihad–as they rode in a car in central Gaza on their way to launching more missiles.
Yesterday, your humble servant wrote that he was “startled and appalled” by the omission of the following sentences that had been in the 2008 Democratic Party platform (statement of principles) from the 2012 Democratic Party Platform:
“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.”
I was not startled by the fact that this section from the 2008 platform was removed because of its content, I was startled that President Obama would have let it be removed because of the political implications insofar as the presidential race is concerned. In a tight race in which Obama needs every vote he can get–especially in Florida–the idea that the President would deliberately alienate Jewish voters who care about Israel was startling.
Republicans were quick to pounce yesterday, and by last night we had the unseemly spectacle of Democratic backpedaling with two amendments being added to the platform–one with a specific reference to “God”, and the other the inclusion of the above sentences about Jerusalem from the 2008 Democratic Platform. If you would like to watch how it took three votes (none of which actually approved the amendments) to approve the amendments click on this youtube from C-Span of the vote.
It is frankly astonishing that anyone would have been surprised about the Jerusalem omission to begin with.
First, Barack Obama has always equivocated about Jerusalem being Israel’s capital and its remaining undivided.
Think back to June 4, 2008 when candidate Obama spoke to AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and included these words: “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” By the very next day, Obama had already backpedaled, with his campaign issuing this “clarification”: “Jerusalem is a final status issue, which means it has to be negotiated between the two parties” as part of “an agreement that they both can live with.” The Obama campaign went on to absurdly dissemble that by “undivided”, candidate Obama meant “undivided by barbed wire” (see a previous blog of mine).
Think back to the long string of events that has taken place since Obama’s “mis-pronouncement” at AIPAC. For example, in 2011 we had the Obama Administration arguing vigorously before the U.S. Supreme Court against nine year old Menachem Zivotsky who was born in Jerusalem and wanted to list “Jerusalem, Israel” as his birthplace on his passport (in April of his year, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 against the Obama Administration).
In March of this year, we had Obama’s State Department issuing a press release referring to “Algeria, Qatar, Jordan, Jerusalem, and Israel”–then in an attempt to “correct the release”, we had the same State Department, through its spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, refusing to acknowledge that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel–not even “West Jerusalem” (see the video of Nuland’s comments at this website along with another video of another Obama official referring to Jerusalem as “Al-Quds”).
We could go on and on, but the point is simply that as one democratic official was reported to have said yesterday (prior to the amendment vote): “The drafters made a deliberate and conscious decision to reframe the Israel section of the platform around Obama’s record.”
Second of all is the issue of “the drafters” themselves. As you may or may not know, the Democratic Platform Committee (handpicked by Obama) was composed of these members: former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland (Chair), former U.S. Representative Tony Coelho, Tino Cuellar, U.S. Representative Barney Frank, Donna Harris-Aikens, Colin Kahl, Nancy Keenan (NARAL), Heather Kendall Miller (Native American rights), Thea Lee (AFLCIO), U.S. Representative Barbara Lee, Susan Ness, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Carlos Odio (Latino Vote Organizer), former U.S. Representative Robert Wexler and Christen Young.
As it turns out, Robert Wexler was chosen to be mainly responsible for drafting the “Middle East” plank of the platform. Wexler is the current president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace–an organization that is intimately connected with J Street (S. Daniel Abraham is a major contributor to J Street). Wexler’s blog even appears on the J Street website.
Not surprisingly, other members of this small platform committee also have close ties to J Street including San Francisco Bay Area Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congressman Barney Frank. Lee has consistently voted against Israel in Congress–and recently returned from a J Street trip to Israel. Frank has a record of supporting J Street initiatives (for example, in 2009, Frank was one of only two Jewish representatives in Congress to not support an AIPAC letter warning President Obama about negotiations with Iran–while at the same time signing a J Street letter encouraging President Obama to follow J Street’s lead concerning negotiations with the Palestinians).
Other interesting platform members with connections to Israel include Susan Ness, Senior Fellow of the SAIS (Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies) Center for Transatlantic Relations (USA) who appeared on a women’s rights panel at the Jewish Arab Center in Haifa in 2010 along with representatives from South Africa, Northern Ireland, and elsewhere, and of course, one of Obama’s main advisors on the Middle East, Colin Kahl. His apologia which appeared last month, “Obama Has Been Great for Israel”, makes for interesting reading.
Again my point is a simple one. It is hardly surprising, but still appalling, that a platform committee so dominated by self-proclaimed Democratic “progressives” who are advocates for “human rights”–and so influenced by J Street–would have produced a document that abandoned Jerusalem.
Again, I would encourage every Democratic supporter of Israel to take a good look at the video of the vote last night (youtube from C-Span of the vote) and decide for yourself the direction in which the Democratic party is heading.
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