Yesterday I did a somewhat-snarky post on a N.Y. party to push Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for president at which the Palestine question came up. “Warren supporters can’t talk about Palestine” was the headline; and I quoted Reeves Wiedeman’s report in The New Yorker:
A hundred and fifty people mingled in [Julie] Pacino’s loft, listening to speeches from Warren supporters. After one audience member posed a question about Warren’s stance on Palestine, the organizers decided that there had been enough dialogue, turned on the music, and told everyone to dance.
Charles Lenchner says that account is wrong. He was one of the speakers at the event. He told me that after a few speeches from members of Democracy for America, Moveon, and his group, “Ready for Warren,” the floor was opened to questions and a young filmmaker asked about Warren’s position on Palestine. Lenchner answered her, saying the issue was very important to him personally, as a longtime opponent of the occupation and former Israeli refusenik; but that people in the room had to respect “the process and rate of change” inside the Democratic Party. A Democratic presidential candidate was going to reflect that change, not lead it.
“It’s perfectly reasonable to ask why Warren’s positions are not more connected with the base,” Lenchner said. But anyone who works in politics knows why that’s the case. “Trying to extrapolate from how Warren behaves as a politician to what the organizations supporting her believe is a fundamental error. There’s no connection.” Lenchner said that her supporters “know the deal” about Palestine.
Warren has not ruled out running, but she has no association with the groups pushing her to run.
Lenchner also advised those in the grassroots left that if they want to sincerely engage in the Democratic primary process, “if the goal is to push people on Palestine,” they should drop the strident tone and stop taking potshots at Elizabeth Warren (he was talking about me, in part
), which will only help hawks like Hillary Clinton, and actually try to promote change inside the party, say by joining Moveon’s remarkable petition
to “boycott” Netanyahu’s speech.
That petition and the young filmmaker who asked about Palestine reflect a genuine shift in the party base that was also evident at the 2012 Democratic convention, the famous floor demonstration over the Jerusalem plank, Lenchner said. The young are moving on this issue, away from the older generation.