Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Democrats' Platform Language on Jerusalem (updated)

As reported at NBC.

That's a pity - not to mention, gutless.  The DNC could have taken a stand on the authority of international law in the issue of Jerusalem's ultimate disposition.  And that stand would simply have confirmed official US policy of several decades.

Instead . . . a gutless cave-in.

Do I prefer Obama over Romney?


Could the US use a president with enough spine to take and hold a stand based on principle, international law, and (arguably) being on the right side of history in this matter?


UPDATE: Foreign Policy site Thursday carried a detailed account of the kerfuffle, focusing on who asked/didn't ask whom to do what in re the 2012 platform statement on Jerusalem.  An assertion that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel was indeed in the 2008 platform, so some claimed that reasserting that in the 2012 platform was simply a matter of consistency.  Despite some earlier claims to the contrary, AIPAC says it was never on board with omitting the Jerusalem piece.  Debbie Wasserman Schultz now says it was a technical error.  Other Democratic congressmen seem to have come running to demand the reinsertion of the Jerusalem assertion.

But what so many seem to overlook, or fail to get their heads around, is that a significantly large and loud portion of the convention delegates were opposed to reinserting the Jerusalem statement.  I could only watch incredulously last night when Judy Woodruff and the PBS panel asked Marilyn Albright about the many "no" votes from the floor.  All of them - Albright included - more or less shook their heads in bemused, semi-smirking bewilderment, as if they were convinced that some malevolent spirit had briefly descended into the arena and taken momentary possession of delegates' souls.

Did it never occur to them that many delegates likely represent the more progressive wing of the Democratic party? The same wing so many of whose members feel jilted and abandoned by the Barack Obama whose rhetoric moved them during the 2008 campaign, gave them hope in his Cairo speech in 2009, and helped impell him to the Nobel Peace Prize?  Democrat progressives tend to believe that the US, as well as Israel and everyone else, ought to be bound by international law - you know, silly things like United Nations resolutions and international treaties.  

By all those standards, Jerusalem cannot be identified as the "capital of Israel."  Put bluntly, Israel "conquered" East Jerusalem in 1967, and launched the Judaization of it almost immediately.  The massive plaza that now adjoins the Western/Wailing Wall wasn't there in 1967.  The Israelis knocked down structures to create it.  According to international law, every one of those actions was illegal.  Those Democrat delegates likely knew that, and they had the guts to stand up and try to keep their party on the right side of international law - even, one might easily argue, the right side of history.

Instead, they were smacked down by what many see as a dubious ruling on the voice vote.  They can only have emerged from all of this with deep cynicism about their party's principles and commitment to justice in the "peace process" - especially when (as the FP piece makes clear) so many of Obama's allies make the point that - well, what we say in the platform is one thing, but what we do while governing is something else.

By my lights, the overriding tone of Mr. Obama's speech last night was sober - a sober speech given by a man sobered by four years on the job, four years of confronting daunting challenges that would have buckled the knees and broken the back of many leaders.  I give him immense credit for all of that.  I admire his fortitude, and his vision for the US - and, especially in light of the lackluster mediocrities that are the GOP ticket - I will vote for him in November.  

But near the end of that speech, he appealed for our votes.  I shudder to think how many progressive votes - and how many progressives' campaign contributions - his spinelessness on Jerusalem may have cost him.

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