Thursday, September 6, 2012 | return to: news & features, national


Jerusalem vanishes from Democrats’ platform —  and then reappears

by ron kampeas, jta

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When it comes to Jerusalem’s presence in the Democratic Party platform, now you see it, now you don’t, and now you see it again.

Just hours after Democrats released their platform Sept. 3, Republicans launched a full-force offensive when they discovered references to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which have appeared in Democratic platforms for decades, were no longer there.

“It is unfortunate that the entire Democratic Party has embraced President Obama’s shameful refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, said in a statement. Romney called Jerusalem Israel’s capital during his visit to the city in July.

Initial statements from the Democratic National Committee in Charlotte, N.C., where the party’s convention was being held, suggested that the intention was to bring the platform in compliance with White House policy. The statements noted that it has never been the policy of any president, Republican or Democrat, to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“The Obama Administration has followed the same policy towards Jerusalem that previous U.S. administrations of both parties have done since 1967,” the statement said. “As the White House said several months ago, the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians — which we also said in the 2008 platform.”

The reference to final-status negotiations did in fact appear in the 2008 platform, but the plank also included a statement saying that, “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.”

Following two days of public outcry and Democratic spin, the reference to Jerusalem — as well as mention of the word “God” (another initial absence roundly criticized by Republicans) — were reinstated Sept. 5 into the platform at President Obama’s behest.

The Associated Press reported that convention chairman and Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa ruled the amendments had passed by a voice vote on the convention floor, even though many delegates objected. After three calls for a vote, the mayor declared the amendments passed. A chorus of boos followed from the floor, but the language was back in.

So why did it initially disappear? The short answer: No one knows.

“There was no discussion on it,” said Robert Wexler, a member of the platform draft committee, and a chief Jewish surrogate for the Obama campaign. And on Sept. 5, the former Florida congressman said, “the president directly intervened to make sure” the amendment passed.

Wexler — the only person involved in shaping the platform who agreed to speak on the record — said originally the campaign wanted the draft committee to focus on security issues in its Israel section, an area that the platform makes clear is a priority.

“A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States not simply because we share strategic interests, but also because we share common values,” the 2012 platform reads, listing defense assistance, missile defense cooperation and maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge.

A separate section on Iran breaks new ground by making more explicit than in previous platforms that a military strike is an option to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

“President Obama believes that a diplomatic outcome remains the best and most enduring solution,” the platform says. “At the same time, he has also made clear that the window for diplomacy will not remain open indefinitely and that all options — including military force — remain on the table.”

It’s not clear what role, if any, pro-Israel groups played in the platform’s original development, or whether they had tried to retain the Jerusalem statement.

One official said at least three American Israel Public Affairs Committee officials were present during the entire period that the platform was drafted last month in Minneapolis. A source close to AIPAC said the group never saw the full platform language, but also noted that AIPAC regarded the final draft Israel sections of both party platforms as “strong.”

Republican language on Jerusalem also shifted between 2008 and 2012. The party’s ’08 platforms said, “We support the vision of two democratic states living in peace and security: Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital, and Palestine,” and “We support Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and moving the American embassy to that undivided capital of Israel.”

A slightly rewritten version of the first sentence appears in the ’12 platform, but the second sentence disappeared — an omission notable because Republicans four years ago made much of how Obama the candidate pledged an “undivided” Jerusalem to the AIPAC policy conference and then retreated the next day after pushback from critics. n

J. staff writer Dan Pine contributed to this report.


Posted by Jack Kessler
09/06/2012  at  04:21 PM
"No one knows"? Really?

Since this was done by a group of people in a room with other people, I think we can be confidently translate “No one knows” to mean “We won’t tell you.”

The reason given for initially dropping the “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital” plank is actually true.  It is not President Obama’s foreign policy.  He stated in a speech in May 2011, that the basis of a settlement was to be the pre-1967 armistice line, the Green Line with minor land swaps.  Which happens to be the position of the Arab League as well. 

Prior to 1967, the Old City of Jerusalem was in Arab hands.  The President’s policy as he stated it in a speech in the White House in May 2011 is that Jerusalem should again be divided and that the Palestinians should have the Old City including the Temple Mount.

What we see here is a conflict between what the policy of the Administration actually is, and what the campaign to re-elect Obama wants to tell the public.  Admitting that the policy of the Obama administration is that Jerusalem should go to the Palestinians in a final status settlement, then the Jews will defect from Obama in sufficient numbers as to risk losing Florida, which is polling in a dead heat at the moment.  As President Gore learned to his sorrow, in a close election one cannot lose Florida and be elected.

Put more briefly, that Jerusalem should go to Palestine is the policy, that it should go to Israel is the campaign lie.

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Posted by Jack Kessler
09/06/2012  at  04:37 PM
Documentation of inflammatory claims

Let it not be thought that my claim that it is the President’s policy to give Jerusalem to the Palestinias, is just my opinion.  It is not. 

On May 19, 2011 in what is considered a major policy statement, he said

“The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine.  We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.  The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.”

The link is

It is sobering to consider that the President’s policy, if given effect, would require the expulsion of a third of a million Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria.  It is not clear how this could be viewed as other than large-scale ethnic cleansing.  One can only suppose that the administration considers it not to be ethnic cleansing when the victims are Jews.

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Posted by Dave Marshak
09/08/2012  at  03:16 PM

US policy under Bush and Obama has been that Jerusalem as capital should be decided by negotiations.

People don’t necessarily make a conscious decision to leave something out. Some people thought the platform should reflect our actual policy and left it out but others did not know that happened. Obama had it changed.

I don’t see Jerusalem in the quote you gave.

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Posted by Frank
09/09/2012  at  12:04 AM
How hard a slap in the face do American Jews need to wake up to reality

This was Obama’s platform, with a strong message for the arabs and for American “progressive” Israel-haters.  Obama has done the same concerning Iran’s nuclear weapons.  His surrogates have made it clear that he opposes military action to prevent Iran’s impending nuclear weapons,  They have even revealed Israel’s clandestine efforts and secret plans to deal with Iran, while Obama engages in weak, self-defeating phony “sanctions” to run out the clock until after the election.

If Obama is re-elected, American Jews will be of no further use to him, and he will be finally free to entirely abandon any American political, military or diplomatic support of Israel, and allow Iran its nukes.

The Democratic party is now the anti-Israel party: Its “progressive” Obama platform carefully followed Obama’s lead on how he has treated Israel while in office, which reversed years of American support for Israel against its enemies.  He has taken the Palestinians’ side on Jerusalem (not Israel’s capital and a “settlement”), borders (negotiations should start at the 1949 “Auschwitz borders”), “settlements”(in which he includes Jewish homes in Jerusalem - should be frozen), and “refugees” (they may perhaps allowed to settle in Israel rather than in a future Palestinian state).

Prior platforms denounced Hamas as a terrorist group (Obama’s deletes that), and recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (this article falsely claims it has never been the policy of any president “to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital” – in fact Obama had cynically told AIPAC that it was, and then promptly retracted it).

Democratic die-hard Alan Dershowitz claimed, “I think extremists within the base may very well move the Democratic party away from its pro-Israel position.”  But that was belied by the facts.  The Democrats not only admit to carefully drafting their platform to conform with Obama’s policies, but when they cynically decided to reverse it at their Convention, the reversal clearly failed to receive the necessary two-third vote.

Three times the “Chair”, Villaraigosa, put it to a voice vote, and each time fully one-half of the delegates voted “NO”.  Having no idea what to do, he finally ignored reality, and read his Teleprompter: “In my opinion the Chair two-third’s voted in the affirmative.”  He was roundly booed.  He ignored the rules requiring a recorded vote, which obviously would have failed. 

You can watch the disaster replayed on TV by Al-Jazeera:

This was a last minute desperate move by Obama to try to hold onto the pro-Israel (Jewish) vote for just a couple of months before he is free to fully attack Israel, entirely unfettered (with “more flexibility”).  Anyone watching this understands what the Democrat delegates really believe:  fully half of them displayed their virulent animosity to Israel.  The Democrat party is the party of Jew-haters, who control the party.  Jews are welcome for their money and votes, but not if they truly support Israel. 

The Democrat party under Obama is no longer “pro-Israel”, and as now represented by his delegates, is the opposite.  As is Obama:

Jewish American Democrats (who are not in denial and support Israel) are left with a stark choice: 

Your political party or your people.

Only two months remain.

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