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Clinton forces dig in against changes to Democratic platform on Israel

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on 48 Comments

Last week it looked like the Hillary Clinton forces on the Democratic Party platform committee were going to accept changes in the platform to accommodate burgeoning pro-Palestinian sentiment in the Democratic base. The thinking was: fold on Israel to make the base happy, then run away from the platform in the general election, if Clinton gets the nomination.

Well not so fast. Several reports in the last day or so indicate that Clinton forces are going to dig in their heels on the platform and fight Bernie Sanders’s platform nominees tooth and nail. So the battle ahead of the convention and even at the convention (Philadelphia, July 25-28) that some have anticipated may come to pass after all.

So we are looking at a possible blockbuster battle between the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and the establishment over a core issue, the Israel lobby in U.S. politics.

You will read many commentators, below, expressing concern about such a thing. But Peter Feld, a former Dem consultant, says that a battle over the issue could change our politics in very positive ways:

It is best to have as public a fight as possible. It matters less what the specific point of the battle is (Jerusalem language or something else), better a floor fight in front of the cameras than something bland worked out in a closed room. Also it would be key to avoid making it Bernie vs. Hillary, since that divisive 2012 convention floor vote over Jerusalem (when all the delegates came via establishment/Obama loyalists channels, as there was no nomination contest) suggests many of Hillary Clinton’s supporters could also be allies on this issue (like most liberal Democrats according to that recent poll). They may not all share her loyalty to Haim Saban or take direction from her commanders on this issue.

Now to the news. First, the Jerusalem Post cites widespread establishment opposition to changing the platform re Israel. It quotes former State Department official Wendy Sherman, a member of the platform committee:

“I am sure the Democratic Party Platform will reflect longstanding, strong support for Israel,” she said…. “Secretary Clinton’s views in support of Israel’s security and an unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel are well known.”

Some express the concern to the Post that the platform could actually hurt the Democratic Party among Jewish voters. (And surely donors too, but that part’s unsaid.)

Democratic establishment figures worry that a tougher stance on Israel may weaken their chances of winning over Jewish “persuadables” – not Jewish voters generally, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic and consider Israel relatively low on their list of voter priorities. Their question is whether Sanders’s picks will feed into a longstanding Republican narrative that the Democratic base is anti-Israel, and serve to discourage Jewish swing voters in critical states such as Florida.

“It’s not simply a reflection of the Democratic Party’s base. It also has to be a practical document that doesn’t hurt the chances of the nominee come November,” said one Democrat close to the platform committee. “It has to do no harm, and the most well-written words and best intentions mean nothing if they get Donald Trump elected.”

Mel Levine, a former Democratic congressman from California, who has been active at AIPAC and other Israel lobby events, doesn’t like the attention the issue is getting: “This process is raising issues which are generally not so broadly discussed in the American electorate, and I think the press has overblown all of this.” Levine told the JPost that in the end the platform will be “balanced” and “consistent with traditional bipartisan US policy,” i.e., pro-Israel.

More coverage in the Israeli press. Chemi Shalev of Haaretz says that a battle over the Democratic Party platform in which Sanders’ representatives use strong words against Israel — platform committee member Cornel West is pro-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions); has said Benjamin Netanyahu is a war criminal, and Gaza is a “concentration camp”– “risks convulsing the party and driving away voters, and not only Jews.” Some of Shalev’s article is alarmist, and directed at American Jews.

[On the one hand] it’s hard to see how leftist liberals can continue to sympathize with an Israel that is portrayed by some of its own right wingers as succumbing to extremism and fascism…  A few weeks ago, Republicans were supposed to be the conflicted party, but roles are starting to reverse. A fierce fight in the Convention over Israel would only accelerate that process.

There is a big gap between encompassing sympathy for the Palestinians and even advocating a more evenhanded and active U.S. approach to Middle East peacemaking and the kind of anti-Israeli positions articulated by West. Their tone and their content stray significantly from the American mainstream. Their language will ultimately be rejected by Clinton and the Convention, but they will nonetheless provide excellent openings for Republicans to drive a wedge between Democrats and independent moderates in general, and Jewish moderates in particular. ..

Sanders would then bear responsibility for unleashing anti-Israeli sentiments, of the kind that he has always avoided, into the American political mainstream. He would taint the Democratic Party in the process. He would thus harm Clinton’s chances of winning the elections, assuming she is the candidate…

The answer to Shalev is that these issues are worth fighting for. Many critics of Israel don’t want Netanyahu invited to the White House in the first month of a Democratic presidency. We believe what Cornel West is saying substantively: we don’t forget that Benjamin Netanyahu launched a war that his own military leaders considered “superfluous” that killed 500 children in 2014. We think BDS is the only thing that is putting pressure on a society whose leadership is shot through with fascistic and racist policies. And many of us also believe that support for a militaristic Israel among Democrats is distorting US foreign policy, making it more warlike; we wish to end this influence. These are of course central issues about the American place in the world.

Jewish Insider quotes another Democratic insider saying Clinton will dig in her heels and not try to create “false unity” by yielding on Israel:

[F]ormer Congressman Howard Berman discussing the Dem party platform on Israel… “[The Israeli/Palestinian conflict] is one issue that will not be decided based on trying to create a false unity of yielding to positions which would put the Democratic party on record and my sense from conversations with people who are very involved in Hillary Clinton’s campaign more so than I am is absolutely no intention to do that and a firm resolve to stand with American support for Israel.”

Jewish Insider also talked to Erin Schrode: “an activist on the front lines,” who is running for the Democratic nomination for California’s second congressional district. She would become the youngest congressperson, at 25. Schrode has spent a lot of time in Israel and is a giant supporter of that country. Asked whether the platform’s language on Israel should be changed, she said:

“No. I cannot accept such anti-Israel vitriol – and I don’t believe that any such change could ever come quietly. There is and will and MUST remain strong support for the State of Israel here in the USA. I believe in a two-state solution and in the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state…

“I mean that I don’t think changing the language could happen without significant uprising from the Jewish community and leaders here in our country. There’s a difference between advocating for a two-state solution while recognizing Palestinian rights and blatant anti-Israel rhetoric.”

Schrode celebrated Netanyahu’s speech to Congress a year ago trying to defeat President Obama’s Iran Deal. Bernie Sanders boycotted that speech. These are real and important issues, and the Democratic base is finally splitting over them. That’s for the good of the country.

Oh and let’s not leave out the NY Observer. The Trump-supporting organ says that Wendy Sherman will fold and the Democratic Party will adopt the “Hamas charter.” That it’s the end of the story for the Democratic Party being pro-Israel.

one would be forgiven for fearing that the result of these negotiations will be a DNC platform resembling the Hamas charter. Not because she’ll want it to, but because turning bad ideas into worse realities is her specialty.

Apologists may claim that party platforms are irrelevant to most voters, and there is truth to that. Unlike in Europe, where party manifestos matter a great deal, nobody outside a small group of long ago-decided voters reads or cares about the platform. But merely defeating an anti-Israel Democrat platform will not change the underlying cultural current on the American left. Approving an anti-Israel Democratic platform will be the starkest evidence to date that the left is abandoning the Jewish state.

Thanks to Ofer Neiman and Yakov Hirsch.

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48 Responses

  1. ritzl
    June 1, 2016, 2:05 pm

    Schrode is seeking to get elected in a district with 10.4% unemployment and she makes Israel an adamant priority. Wow. Perfect example of how out of whack the traditional “unbreakable bond” (showing a bit of machine humor, autocorrect almost made that “unbreakable bind”) spiel has become.

    Wave bye-bye to Bernie voters, Ms. Schrode.


    @Annie. Isn’t this your home turf? Marin County and north along the coast? Thoughts?

    • annie
      June 1, 2016, 8:36 pm

      no thoughts. needless to say i didn’t vote for her.

      • hophmi
        June 2, 2016, 9:23 am

        Interesting. She’s a respected environmental activist and has spent time working with Palestinians in the West Bank on water issues.

        But she’s not a demonizer, so she won’t get the ceramic artist cum political extremist’s vote.

      • klm90046
        June 2, 2016, 6:39 pm

        hophmi: “She’s a respected environmental activist.” Sure.

        “…has spent time working with Palestinians in the West Bank on water issues.” Of course, like showing them how to survive on one-fourth as much water as the average Israeli gets. So isn’t she actually working for Israel?

        “…she’s not a demonizer…” Of course not.

        “…so she won’t get the ceramic artist cum political extremist’s vote.” Ceramics is anti-Semitism.

      • annie
        June 2, 2016, 7:06 pm

        she’s not a demonizer, so she won’t get the ceramic artist cum political extremist’s vote.

        i didn’t not vote for her because she’s “not a demonizer”, i didn’t vote for her because i wasn’t impressed w/the videos i watched. just not my cup of tea. at the time i voted (about 2 weeks ago) when i filled out my ballot, i didn’t know about her relationship to israel. just didn’t think she was mature enough frankly:

        here’s someone i did vote for as an example of what i look for in terms of maturity — night and day really:

      • pianoteacher
        June 3, 2016, 5:30 pm

        I did. Damn! I was led to believe she was pro Palestinian.
        After reading the article in the Jewish magazine about her pro Israel stance, and now this, describing her support of Netanyahoo’s speech, I am kicking myself.
        She had me fooled, for sure.

      • annie
        June 3, 2016, 5:48 pm

        oh well, i doubt if she has much of a chance against huffman anyway.

      • pianoteacher
        June 3, 2016, 8:33 pm

        @Annie, she is just trying to be number two to Huffman, as two go through for the November election. The other two are a Republican who seems to want to destroy the Middle East, and a teacher called Wookey from Novato who is not aligned to any political party.
        So really Schrode is competing against the Republican or Wookey for that second place.

      • annie
        June 4, 2016, 9:20 am

        true, but in a top two primary she’d still have to face off w/huffman in the general election anyway wouldn’t she? btw, i voted for wookey even tho i know he doesn’t have a chance in h.

  2. ckg
    June 1, 2016, 2:55 pm

    According the Jewish Journal, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is warning Senator Sanders not to start a DNC platform fight over Israel: “We don’t need more division,” he said. Villaraigosa is a Clinton supporter. ACK!

    • peterfeld
      June 1, 2016, 4:55 pm

      Villaraigosa is a good one to issue threats. (Not. His governor campaign will be tainted by the 2012 vote he falsified before a national audience.) I bet he doesn’t have too much sway with Bernie (or more germanely, Zogby and West and Bernie’s followers).

      • hophmi
        June 2, 2016, 9:28 am

        You’re dreaming if you think that anyone in California will care about Villaraigosa’s action to keep a small audience of malcontents from messing up the platform at the convention.

  3. peterfeld
    June 1, 2016, 4:56 pm

    We shouldn’t concede that supporting Israel is politically helpful. I’m sure there are very few North Coast voters, or elsewhere, demanding massive taxpayer aid to a country that uses the weapons we provide to kill children, and where rights are denied based on race. We have to fight back by making Israel politically toxic.

    • JWalters
      June 1, 2016, 7:14 pm

      Completely agree. I hope Mondoweiss readers will post links to relevant Mondoweiss articles on establishment news websites. The general public needs to discover they MUST go outside the corporate story on the life and death issues.

    • pabelmont
      June 1, 2016, 7:54 pm

      Maybe making both Israel and Saudi Arabia “politically toxic” (great phrase) at the same time, for various reasons? Does USA really need to protect all that oil anymore? (But, realpolitik-ly, how much American debt does SA hold and what can they do with it to hurt us? And later, after oil is really “dead in the ground” (2030 ?), what will/can SA do with all those bonds?

    • CigarGod
      June 2, 2016, 9:23 am

      The Establishment Machine/Octopus is a large and solid bloc of pro-Israel voters.
      Try to find a single gear/arm that is outspoken against Israel.
      Become an outcast and lose your job.

    • hophmi
      June 2, 2016, 9:31 am

      Do your worst. In the end, people will resent the small, unrepresentative, nasty coterie of anti-Israel fanatics pushing support for theocratic dictatorships.

      • eljay
        June 2, 2016, 11:23 am

        || hophmi: Do your worst. In the end, people will resent the small, unrepresentative, nasty coterie of anti-Israel fanatics pushing support for theocratic dictatorships. ||

        In the end, people will resent a small, nasty, belligerent, intransigent and unrepentantly colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist state.

        Zio-supremacists have this strange notion that undermining international laws and human rights and the protections they afford is something worth bragging about when, in fact, it’s both stupid and dangerous.

      • Donald
        June 2, 2016, 12:06 pm

        That’s Hophmi, the guy who is opposed to demonizing.

  4. Kay24
    June 1, 2016, 5:18 pm

    Someone better tell them that they are supporting a brutal military occupation and land thefts.
    Clinton and her minions are hopelessly devoted to Israel. Meanwhile Haaretz brings attention to the fact that Drumpf and Bibi are so alike.

    “Donald Trump has had a terrible week. He convened a press conference to refute suspicions that he had failed to disburse donations received in his March fundraiser for veterans but then appeared to blow his top at the journalists present. In the case of Trump University, the order was reversed: first he lashed out at the judge presiding over the suit filed against the university that bears his name, then he had to withstand the damning testimonies contained in the court documents the same judge had unveiled.
    Benjamin Netanyahu has also seen better days. Last week the State Comptroller accused him of serial corruption and asked for a criminal investigation of his travels abroad. Then Naftali Bennett tried to blackmail him in exchange for the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as Defense Minister, which didn’t reflect well on Netanyahu in and of itself. Then police recommended that his wife Sarah be indicted for pilfering state funds and then she was lambasted in a separate civilian suit as well. Then, to cap it all off, it emerged that the rape case on which Netanyahu had based a Facebook post that incited against the media and the left had been trumped up, excuse the expression, by the purported victim.
    read more:

  5. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    June 1, 2016, 5:20 pm

    The Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic party is anti Israel and since Sanders only lost to hillary based upon his lack of support from black voters, it is a fluke that the more pro israel candidate will be the nominee. Sanders sentiment is the future of the Democratic party in terms of a presidential candidate who can raise money on the internet. The Congressional democratic elected officials will lag behind, because they have to raise money the old fashioned way, big donors.

    • johneill
      June 1, 2016, 10:07 pm

      not anti-israel: anti-racism, anti-segregation, & contra the military-industrial complex that happens to sustain the state.

  6. lysias
    June 1, 2016, 5:46 pm

    They shut down exit polls for the last Democratic primaries, so there will be no exit polling for California and New Jersey, for example. Can you believe it? Richard Charnin’s Blog: The Democratic Primaries: No more exit polls; Kentucky and Oregon recap:

    The networks cancelled plans for exit polls for the remaining presidential primaries. Forget about the California and New Jersey primaries. Hell, they aren’t important.

    11 of 26 exit polls exceeded the margin of error for Sanders
    The probability is 1 in 76.8 billion = 1- binomdist (10,26,.025,true)
    24 of 26 exit polls shifted to Clinton in the vote
    The probability is 1 in 190,000 = 1- binomdist(23,26,0.5, true)

    The average exit poll margin of error for the 26 primaries was 3.52%. The MoE includes a 30% exit poll cluster factor (0.81) which is added to the theoretical 2.71% MoE. View a statistical comparison of exit poll discrepancies between the stolen 2004 presidential election and the 2016 Democratic Primaries.

    • JWalters
      June 1, 2016, 7:09 pm

      Thank you for this. The ONLY, and obvious motive for denying Americans this information is to cover up an election theft if necessary. The large number of voters disenfranchised in the NY primary, the corporate media plans to “call” the nomination for Hillary early, and the many other irregularities in this primary season testify to the length and depth of the oligarchy’s corrupt tentacles. The corporate pundit chorus is acting baffled about complaints of a rigged system. I pray for a revolt of the reporters, all at once, live on TV.

      • Doubtom
        June 2, 2016, 2:46 pm

        JW- why not pray for a real revolt, like a revolution? because that’s pretty much what it will take to turn things around.

    • annie
      June 1, 2016, 8:39 pm

      california will be rigged. it’s a done deal.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew
        June 1, 2016, 8:57 pm

        Sanders supporters who refuse to back hillary because of the issues (or one issue) have my respect. Sanders supporters who refuse to back hillary because the process was rigged come off sounding like crybabies.

      • Pixel
        June 1, 2016, 9:40 pm


      • genesto
        June 2, 2016, 12:17 pm

        Sanders supporters that don’t support Hillary will do so for a variety of reasons beyond the fact the system is rigged. Trust me.

      • annie
        June 2, 2016, 12:34 pm

        agreed genesto. i never meant to suggest or imply the reason people won’t vote for her is because the system (or california) is rigged. i was just responding to lysia’s exit poll comment/data above.

        a great article on why sanders supporters won’t vote for her is

        and the authors of that (great) article responded to the social media response:

        “Our Politico Story on Why Clinton Does Not Deserve the Sanders Vote”

        here’s one part that stood out and resonated for me:

        So to drive the point home, the article uses NC readers to show that some well-informed progressives understand full well what the Clintons represent and they’ve had it with them. These voters regard Trump as an acceptable risk to inflict punishment on Team Dem for decades of abusing workers and ordinary citizens and to put an end to the Clintons’ dynastic ambitions.

      • ritzl
        June 2, 2016, 4:03 pm

        Thanks Annie. Great YS/NC article.

        YS makes a compelling case that something is very different this time.

        Voters want this election to be an omelette and Hillary looks like a nice big egg.

      • annie
        June 2, 2016, 6:36 pm

        lots of voters here think independents can’t vote on the dem ballot. but they definitely can

      • klm90046
        June 2, 2016, 6:56 pm

        Time to get monitors from Syria, North Korea and Burundi to ensure a fair vote. Where’s Jimmy Carter when we need him?

    • ritzl
      June 2, 2016, 3:24 pm

      Thanks lysias. Really interesting.

      Are there exit poll data/stats comparisons somewhere to elections that were considered fair and honest by everyone? That is, is there some way to rule out flawed exit polling as the issue as opposed to rigged elections?

      It may be at your link, but I’m not smart enough to be able to mine the stats without some hand-holding. I get that it’s extremely improbable that exit polling and election results are that divergent, but it’s hard (for me anyway) to see/understand what the statistical assumptions were (if any) to arrive at that improbability.

      I’d like to understand, but it just may not be necessary given that that degree of improbability may relegate any nuance to statistical noise.

      • lysias
        June 2, 2016, 3:40 pm

        Sorry, I’m not expert enough to answer your questions. Charnin has a book out that may answer them: Matrix of Deceit: Forcing Pre-Election and Exit Polls to Match Fraudulent Vote Counts.

      • ritzl
        June 2, 2016, 3:49 pm

        Thanks again lysias. I’ll pick it up. Important stuff imo.

      • lysias
        June 4, 2016, 3:24 pm

        I just finished skimming through Matrix of Deceit. One of Charnin’s most striking pieces of evidence that elections in the U.S. are fraudulent is this. Through 2008 exit pollsters always asked those they questioned who they had voted for in the previous presidential election. Exit pollsters have always adjusted their poll results with the reported results of elections by weighting some of the answers they get more heavily than others. In this way, a 52-48 result favoring Kerry in 2004 in the raw data can be adjusted to yield 52-48 in favor of Bush. But that means the results for the subsidiary questions they ask are also “adjusted”, on the assumption that certain segments of the population were more heavily represented in the population of actual voters than they were in the population of those who were polled. For the 2004 presidential election, this adjustment resulted in the extremely anomalous result that 110% of those who voted for Bush in the 2000 election also voted for him in 2004. This is doubly impossible, not only because it is more than 100%, but also because about 5% of the voters for Bush in 2000 would have died in the intervening four years. For earlier elections, there were similarly anomalous results, especially regarding the question on who they had voted for four years earlier.

        So what did the pollsters do in response? They eliminated the question about who people had voted for four years earlier. And presumably the question will be missing from now on.

  7. pabelmont
    June 1, 2016, 8:10 pm

    There must be a way to say that the DemParty supports Israel’s security but only if Israel behaves acceptably.

    Israel cannot acceptably continue the occupation after 49 years. Israel cannot acceptably continue the settlement project after 49 years — and none of the settlers or settlements should ultimately remain in OPTs for so long as they remain occupied because they violate international law and several UNSC resolutions.

    Israel may make peace with the Palestinians and retain whichever settlements and settlers are consistent with that peace; or it may end the settlement project and the occupation. Both paths are consistent with international law and Palestinian human rights. The present one-state regime is not.

    • klm90046
      June 2, 2016, 7:19 pm

      “Israel may make peace with the Palestinians and retain whichever settlements and settlers are consistent with that peace…” pabelmont, there lies the rub. Israel negotiates with a gun to the Palestinians’ head. It has laid down non-negotiables, viz: That all Palestinian borders will remain under Israeli control; that Palestine will not have a military; that Israeli forces will have unhindered access to all parts of Palestine; that Israel will allocate water to Palestinians; that wireless frequencies will be controlled by Israel; and, shamelessly, that international law will not be brought into the discussion.

      Time to stop talking about negotiations.

    • echinococcus
      June 3, 2016, 12:37 am

      There must be a way to say that the DemParty supports Israel’s security but only if Israel behaves acceptably.

      The word you are looking for is “oxymoron”. Quite a fad of a word these last years and intolerably misused, but still a good word.

  8. Pixel
    June 1, 2016, 9:42 pm

    “merely defeating an anti-Israel Democrat platform will not change the underlying cultural current on the American left.”

    100% correct.

    Even if they win, they lose.

    • ckg
      June 2, 2016, 8:59 am

      The 2012 DNC platform win for the Israel Firsters was pyrrhic.

  9. Misterioso
    June 2, 2016, 10:04 am

    Meanwhile, to the north:

    “BE IT RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada calls on the Canada Revenue Agency to revoke the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund for contravening public policy against discrimination and for its failure to comply with international human rights law.”

    Congratulations to Canada’s Green Party and its enlightened leader, Elizabeth May.

    • just
      June 2, 2016, 11:42 am

      Woo- hoo! Thanks for the link, Misterioso.

    • just
      June 2, 2016, 12:18 pm

      Speaking of Green:

      “Don’t rule it out: Bernie Sanders (slightly) leaves door open for Green Party run with Jill Stein

      The election may be about to take another unpredicted turn that could result in the election of President Sanders, completing his 2016 political revolution.

      Before a rally in Santa Monica, Senator Bernie Sanders was asked by Live Satellite News about the offer by Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, for him to run with the Green Party. Sanders response left open the door to running as a Green. He could have easily rejected the offer of a Sanders-Stein ticket, instead he said: “Right now, our goal is to win the Democratic nomination.” …”

      • ritzl
        June 2, 2016, 4:47 pm


        I really can’t remember a Presidential election where so many people (outside the conspicuously dazed and confused Beltway crowd) not only “get it” but get it in shared specifics and are willing to ally on that basis (come what may).

        One has to wonder at this point how many Trump supporters who are living on the same dire economic bubble* would also vote for Sanders.

        * The PBS Newshour did a piece last night about a poll showing 40% of Americans would NOT have $400 to cover an emergency. That condition cuts across traditional party lines.

        OTOH there’s this truly “mind-blowing” finding about historical voting habits (Tavis Smiley’s show):

        Vavreck: Okay. This is what’s really mind-blowing about the robustness of how the nation’s economy affects the two-party outcome in a presidential election. Now let’s be clear. It is more about when we look at what’s driving what.

        It’s more about the state of the nation’s economy, GDP change, for example, than it is about how you personally, Tavis, have done this year or in the first six months or how you think you’re going to do in the next six months.

        So your personal–people somehow divorce their personal experience with the economy from some general assessment of how they think things are going nationally. We don’t actually know a lot about why they do that.

        I really hope the above voter disconnect is one of the things that’s changing this year and propelling the current/potential upheaval. That it IS changing seems to explain pretty well the political fracturing that’s going on now.

        And to bring it a little more on-topic, I am guessing that changing perceptions may not only be a soda-straw-view of economic change/self-interest. It may be a broad questioning (and rejection???; without solution, yet) of the value of all policies that have brought us to this political point in time.


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