Tuesday, September 04, 2012
The Dilemma Of Jewish Democrats And This Year’s Anti-Israel Party Platform
This year's Democratic Party Platform is an interesting document to read. Aside from radical stances on things like same sex marriage and unlimited, government funded abortion on demand including partial birth abortion, it's noteworthy in that it focuses on attacking Mitt Romney by name rather than merely stating the party's position on the issues. This use of platform planks as attack vehicles is something unique in the history of platforms from either party.
One interesting part of this year's Democrat party platform is its anti-Israel language. In order to appreciate exactly how anti-Israel it is, it is necessary to compare it with the 2008 Democrat platform. Let's look at it:
For more than three decades, Israelis, Palestinians, Arab leaders, and the rest of the world have looked to America to lead the effort to build the road to a secure and lasting peace. Our starting point must always be our special relationship with Israel, grounded in shared interests and shared values, and a clear, strong, fundamental commitment to the security of Israel, our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy. That commitment, which requires us to ensure that Israel retains a qualitative edge for its national security and its right to self-defense, is all the more important as we contend with growing threats in the region–a strengthened Iran, a chaotic Iraq, the resurgence of Al Qaeda, the reinvigoration of Hamas and Hezbollah. We support the implementation of the memorandum of understanding that pledges $30 billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade to enhance and ensure its security.
It is in the best interests of all parties, including the United States, that we take an active role to help secure a lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a democratic, viable Palestinian state dedicated to living in peace and security side by side with the Jewish State of Israel. To do so, we must help Israel identify and strengthen those partners who are truly committed to peace, while isolating those who seek conflict and instability, and stand with Israel against those who seek its destruction.
The United States and its Quartet partners should continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel's right to exist, and abides by past agreements. Sustained American leadership for peace and security will require patient efforts and the personal commitment of the President of the United States. The creation of a Palestinian state through final status negotiations, together with an international compensation mechanism, should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.
All understand that it is unrealistic to expect the outcome of final status negotiations to be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949. 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.
As you know, the Obama Administration ignored most of this and has both funded and legitimized Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood while strongly pressuring Israel to retreat to the indefensible 1948 border lines, not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capitol and supporting the re-division of the city so that it is not accessible to people of all faiths...especially Jews. In fact, the Obama Administration went so far as to actually lie about the commitments made to Israel on Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria by President Bush as part of the Road Map...the same ones mentioned in the Democrat's 2008 platform!
So now, let's take a look at the new, improved 2012 Democrat Platform. It's much more honest, in that a great deal of the pro-Israel language from 2008 has simply been excised:
President Obama and the Democratic Party maintain an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security. 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. For this reason, despite budgetary constraints, the President has worked with Congress to increase security assistance to Israel every single year since taking office, providing nearly $10 billion in the past three years. The administration has also worked to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region. And we have deepened defense cooperation – including funding the Iron Dome system – to help Israel address its most pressing threats, including the growing danger posed by rockets and missiles emanating from the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. 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.
It is precisely because of this commitment that President Obama and the Democratic Party seek peace between Israelis and Palestinians. A just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian accord, producing two states for two peoples, would contribute to regional stability and help sustain Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state. At the same time, the President has made clear that there will be no lasting peace unless Israel’s security concerns are met. President Obama will continue to press Arab states to reach out to Israel. We will continue to support Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, which have been pillars of peace and stability in the region for many years. And even as the President and the Democratic Party continue to encourage all parties to be resolute in the pursuit of peace, we will insist that any Palestinian partner must recognize Israel’s right to exist, reject violence, and adhere to existing agreements.
Note what's missing? Nothing about isolating Hamas. Nothing about Jerusalem being Israel's undivided capital accessible to all faiths. Nothing about the 1948 cease fire lines that left Israel with a narrow neck 9 miles wide being unrealistic. And significantly. nothing about an Israeli-Arab peace accord being a product of final status negotiations between the parties, which leaves open the possibility of an attempt to force a 'settlement' on Israel via UN diktat, backed, of course, by President Obama and the United States.
And unlike the 2008 platform, nothing in it that rules out American support for swamping what's left of Israel with genocidal 'refugees', the so-called Palestinian right of return.
Not that it matters, but it's worth mentioning that Iron Dome was a joint weapons venture by Israel and the United States. As with all such projects, Israel was fully entitled to share in the results, and in any event the aid to Israel - almost all of which is spent in America and provides jobs and economic activity in this country- was a product of legislation by Congress, not a gracious gift by President Obama as the platform implies.
Nor does the platform mention the de facto six month freeze on arms sales to Israel by the Obama Administration, or the hostile climate the Obama Administration has created between the U.S. and Israel since this president took office, but then I wouldn't expect it to.
The Democrats and the Obama Campaign are obviously signalling that even the pretense of any kind of charm offensive on Israel designed to attract Jewish votes is at an end.
Which brings us to another question; how are Jewish Democrats going to react to this?
Michael Barone, the dean of American political writers chronicles one reaction in his latest column, that of the True Believers who make up the National Jewish Democratic Coalition (NJDC). In a word, it's denial, with members urged to "talk to their friends, but skip the 10 to 12% who are strong Republicans and are intelligent, accomplished, smart, very practiced debaters.”
Another reaction is that of partisan, pro-Israel Democrats like Dennis Ross, who are simply sitting the election out.
Barone looks at the polls and sees President Obama getting 64% of the Jewish vote so far this election as opposed to 78% in 2008. That would make a huge difference in battleground states like Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan and approximate Democrat George McGovern's showing in 1972, versus the 33% of the Jewish vote Richard Nixon received.
The only candidate to do worse than McGovern was Jimmy Carter in 1980, who ended up with 45% of the Jewish vote in 1980. Ronald Reagan only won 39%, with third party candidate John Anderson getting 15%.
My own guess is that President Obama ends up with between 55% and 62% of the Jewish vote, based on what I saw my own parents doing in 1972 and 1980. Devoted FDR-style Democrats, they couldn't bring themselves to vote for Richard Nixon or for Ronald Reagan. But they weren't going to vote for an anti-Israel Democrat either, so they simply didn't cast a vote for president that year.
A number of American Jews, particularly the elderly are so conditioned to vote Democrat that they simply are unable to pull the lever for pro-Israel Republican like Mitt Romney. But they aren't going to vote for an anti-Israel democrat like Barack Obama either.
And that could make a large difference in a number of states.