Leave it to the Israelis and their pandering rightwing lapdogs to turn an issue of justice and fairness into a controversy of hate and viciousness.
In 2008, the Democratic Party pandered to pro-Israeli and American Jewish voters by writing a one-sided platform declaring Jerusalem was the undivided capital of Israel.
The 2008 Democratic Platform claimed to support peace yet argued that two key issues be decided outside of negotiations, Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugees.
The 2008 platform states Palestinian refugees should live in a “Palestinian State,” that doesn’t yet exist, and accept money for the homes and lands taken from them by Israel. It declares Jerusalem the capital of Israel and argues it should remain an “undivided” city.
What’s left to negotiate?
This year, the Democratic Platform has been changed — 23 words shorter. But it was quickly “repaired.”
The 2012 platform eliminated the prejudiced language on the status of Jerusalem, written in originally to pander to pro-Israel voters and money.
That pandering has been the cornerstone of American politics and contradicts claims that American Middle East policy seeks fairness, justice and civil rights.
Who is more “pro-Israel” is a key litmus test in American presidential elections. One of Mitt Romney’s strongest financial backers is Israeli casino baron Sheldon Adelson. But Obama has been walking a timid tight rope, maybe until now.
Israel’s venomous pit bulls in the US Senate, Congress and in both the Democratic and Republican Parties have set upon the change attacking Obama and questioning his loyalty to Israel.
The 2012 platform begins with the gratuitous reiteration that America maintains “an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.”
The old platform promised an unshakable commitment to give Israel billions, too. But the new platform puts it a little more delicately, noting that despite difficult economic hardships facing Americans, US foreign aid to Israel will increase. In other words, even though Americans don’t have money, American politicians can continue to support Israel and give its citizens even more.
The platform repeats that the Obama administration stands by Israel’s security. And you know that when someone repeats something, it’s because they’re going to say something Israelis won’t like. And Israel doesn’t like the platform’s failure to mention Jerusalem.
Israelis love to talk about how they want peace, but they can’t seem to take the steps to make peace happen, like stopping the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements. Why wouldn’t the Israelis freeze settlement growth in order to restart the stalled peace talks?
Israel wants more land and settlements. It really doesn’t want peace based on compromise. American politicians may be biased, but they are not stupid.
They know Israel wants all of the land and is digging in its heels to oppose peace with the Palestinians. There’s no reason for American politicians to support peace based on justice.
Israel’s rightwing supporters are fanatics and extreme. They will do anything to prevent peace based on two states. Israel’s moderate voices are weak, and their voices are feeble. They say they support two-states but they are more concerned about how they are portrayed in the mainstream Jewish and pro-Israel community.
In the new Platform, Obama promised to support Israel’s peace accords with Egypt and Jordan, which faces an uncertain future as democracy trumps the dictatorship that Israel once relied on to enforce its one-sided peace with Egypt.
The new platform criticizes Iran, but stops short of committing to war with Iran. The Israelis are not happy about that. But American military forces are spread thin. It’s not in America’s best interests to fight all of Israel’s trumped up battles.
The subtle wording change in the Democratic Platform on Jerusalem was a welcome sign that maybe, just maybe, America might be trying to rein in Israel’s extremist talk and irresponsible conduct.
Maybe, the United States really wants to achieve peace by forcing both sides to be reasonable, to make concessions and to stop inciting hatred by abandoning policies that promote violence.
Jerusalem is the place to start a new policy of justice and fairness. It’s not an Israeli city. It is a city holy to Jews, Muslims and to Christians.
It should be an international city that is shared, and is open to everyone.
Right now under Israeli control, Jerusalem is a closed city. It is closed to many Christians and Muslims who disagree with Israel’s violent policies.
Israel is forcibly evicting Christians and Muslims out of the city, surrounding Jerusalem with Jewish-only settlements and policies that violate the civil rights of many Arabs.
By removing the empty promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Obama has pushed the issue of Jerusalem front and center, along with the need for more balance and justice.
As fast as the biased language on Jerusalem was removed from the platform, it was reinserted, at Obama’s direction.
Taking the Jerusalem language out sent a strong message that maybe for once, America has a president who cares about peace, justice and the Rule of Law. Putting it back in shows Obama is no different than the rest, a slave to Israel’s politics.
Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist. Reach him at www.TheMediaOasis.com.