Only a strong grassroots movement can change US politics on Middle East — JVP

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Jewish Voice for Peace has issued a statement on the Jerusalem plank in the Democratic platform.

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) was deeply disappointed by the stunning last-minute changes made to the Democratic Party platform yesterday at the Democratic National Convention, both in terms of substance and process.

At the personal request of President Obama, the Democrats amended a platform, which already strongly supported Israel, to include a reference to Jerusalem as an “undivided” city and the “capital” of Israel.

This position directly contradicts long-standing U.S. policy that Jerusalem, which both the Palestinians and Israelis claim for their future capital, is a matter of “final status” negotiations. This platform change appears to pre-determine the outcome of negotiations which the United States claims to support as a neutral third party. In short, it’s terrible foreign policy that, if implemented, would make reaching a just and lasting peace virtually impossible.

Even more disturbing was the spectacle of the voice vote itself. From the video available, it is clear that the amendment did not pass by a two-thirds majority as required.  Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was chairing the session, called for a voice vote three times because there seemed to be as many or possibly more No than Yes votes. Nonetheless, Villaraigosa finally claimed a two-thirds majority and passed the resolution. The immediate response in the room, only half full of delegates, was audible boos.

This embarrassing spectacle clearly revealed a political party leadership willing to subvert democracy when it comes to policy regarding Israel and Palestine. In fact, a recent Arab American Institute poll indicates that Americans are split evenly on the question of sharing Jerusalem. The voice vote also indicated a split base. But party leadership yet again chose to run roughshod over the will of its base.

JVP takes heart from the fact that a significant proportion of party delegates vocally and clearly rejected the amendment,which shows that there is a deep division within the Democratic Party over its approach to Israel and Palestine. We hope that eventually these forces will prevail, and we are more convinced than ever that only a strong, sustained grassroots movement can force a change in both parties approach to Israel and Palestine.

J Street also has a statement. It seems to think Jerusalem can still be divided to make a Palestinian capital. Has Jeremy Ben-Ami been there lately?

Oh and here is Chris Hayes’s great comment on the matter the other night on MSNBC. In the moment. Wow, nice work.

HAYES: Can we just say, I’ll just say for myself, it’s a substantively terrible decision. It’s bad policy alright. It’s a craven capitulation and it’s a craven capitulation that empowers the worst elements in the people that are working on this issue. If you read this platform, there is not a single condition put on Israel, in the Israel-Palestine section, there’s conditions put on the Palestinians that they must renounce — they must accept Israel’s right to exist, etc. There’s nothing said about the settlements.

And if the American government policy is actually that Jerusalem is the capital and the American government wants move the embassy to Jerusalem, there have been plenty of opportunities for both Republicans and Democrats to do that and they have not done it because it’s a terrible idea from the perspective of actually getting a lasting peace between these two peoples.

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