Video obtained from C-SPAN suggests that as Democrats discussed their party’s emerging new position on Israel this past summer, few seemed concerned about the party’s radical new direction on Israel policy. Those who advised against making drastic changes from past party planks on Israel were evidently ignored.
At the drafting meeting in Minneapolis in July, leaders of the Democratic Party’s platform committee competed to offer praise for President Obama’s record on Israel. None, however, directly addressed the imminent removal of pro-Israel language in the platform, such as support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
One of those touting President Obama’s performance was Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), a pro-Israel legislator who nevertheless has worked with the far-left J Street, which is critical of Israeli policies. Another was Colin Kahl, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East in the Obama administration.
(Kahl recently penned an article for Foreign Policy entitled: “Obama Has Been Great for Israel.” In it, he warns that Republican Mitt Romney “risks transforming the bipartisan backing for Israel that Obama has worked so hard to preserve.” Nothing has done more to upset that bipartisan balance than the platform prepared by Kahl and his party.)
Curiously, National Jewish Democratic Council president David Harris told the committee that the planks of previous Democratic platforms “were carefully crafted and have served us well as a party and a country.” He urged the committee to “stick closely to our previous platform language and principles, allowing of course for it to be updated and expanded as necessary.” Evidently that advice was not followed.
In August, when the platform committee met in Detroit to discuss the final draft, the only apparent reference to Israel came in a statement from the floor by a delegate who praised President Obama for his “strong and persistent” support of Israel. No one raised objections to the new policy–at least not in public–and the draft platform was passed unanimously, after only three hours instead of the scheduled eight.
What emerges from these perfunctory deliberations and praises for President Obama is an image of a radicalizing Democratic Party, with little grasp of how far its views on Israel–and other issues–are from those of the American public. It is also clear that the party’s leaders acted with full confidence that their positions on Israel, as enshrined in the platform, were a reflection of the President’s views and his record.