Clintonites on the Democratic Party platform committee knocked out condemnations of Israeli “settlements” and “occupation” from the platform out of fear of Sheldon Adelson, a Sanders rep on that committee said today in Philadelphia.
James Zogby of the Arab American Institute spoke at a panel convened by the US Campaign to End the Occupation and the American Friends Service Committee alongside the Democratic convention. He said that he and other Sanders delegates to the platform committee had a simple plan going into the platform debates: to remove a reference in the platform to Jerusalem being the undivided “capital of Israel” and also strike the platform’s opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).
But they lost on those points, and their strategy was off. The fight was instead to knock out Sanders-sponsored language opposing “occupation” and “settlements,” and the Sanders side lost.
Frankly we wanted to strike the BDS line out, strike out the line on Jerusalem, I thought that would be the fight. I had no idea the fight would end up being over occupation and settlements. And what occurred to me was that, as I looked around the table at the folks who were there, some of whom are good people, and smart policy people– is that something happens in this game where they take their policy brain out and put it some place, I ain’t telling you where. and they substitute their politics brain, which they think is a smart brain. “We can’t do it because it’s–” Here’s what they told me. “We can’t do it because Sheldon Adelson will come out against us.” Jesus he’s going to come out against you no matter what you do. And the people who like Sheldon Adelson, they’re not going to vote for you.
Sheldon Adelson is an 82-year-old Republican who is supporting Trump in this election, and who supported Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in the last cycle.
These members of the platform committee were speaking of the Jewish politics of the issue. They know that Jews give a “gigantic” and “shocking” amount of the money that Democratic candidates rely on, according to a J Street panel of experts this spring, and that Sheldon Adelson, who called on President Obama to nuke Iran, is little different from a lot of other older Jews who regard Israel as a great thing. Indeed, Adelson has teamed up with Clinton megadonor Haim Saban in support of Israel. So the Clintonites were afraid that older Jews will not give money to the Democratic Party, and withdraw their votes too, if the platform didn’t grovel to Israel. That’s what went down.
Zogby said the irony is that Bernie Sanders was “was actually playing to his base by talking about Palestine.” Young people, liberals, people of color — they all increasingly support Palestine.
On Wednesday, the Arab American Institute will release polling, Zogby said, that shows how much the American public has changed on the issue and how much it approves of boycott.
On the boycott issue– “Is boycotting Israel a legitimate tool to use to stop them from building settlements?” — Democrats say yes overwhelmingly, 47 to 14, and the rest are unsure.
The numbers aren’t bad on the Republican side either: 42-24.
The poll also showed that a majority of Americans “for the first time have an opinion that too much foreign aid goes to Israel, that’s something that we never saw before,” he said to applause.
And Zogby spoke of Sanders’s achievement in changing the discourse of Palestine:
It took the work of a mass movement and a courageous person like Bernie Sanders. Because remember if Bernie hadn’t elevated it, it wouldn’t have happeend…
He gave us a qualitative boost forward. Now the question is, What do we do? And my feeling is, That we don’t let it go. The conversation is beginning again… and it cannot end. It cannot be where we put it back on hold again for another 20 years. The lives of people in the region cannot tolerate that. I think American interests– America’s ability to function in the world– When we fight for Palestine, we make America better, we make America smart, we make America save itself. We’re going to help America save itself whether it wants to or not! …
I refuse to let the Palestinian people take a back seat again to any other conflict. It’s happened way too many times. We heard that shit during the first Gulf War in 1990-1991. “Can’t talk about it because we have to fight this war. After the war we’ll get to it.” “After the– after the–” Never get to it. This issue must be dealt with!