At the California Democratic Party’s fall convention on November 17, activists pushed a resolution that would have recognized the Palestinian right of return. Although the amendment ultimately failed to be voted into the platform, supporters point to the fact that no vote tally was actually taken and that the results could have been too close to call.
It's simple: Palestinians should be free. End US funding for Israeli injustices now.
— JVP Action (@JvpAction) November 18, 2019
Members of Jewish Voice for Peace Action, the party’s Arab Caucus, and other pro-Palestine advocates collected petition signatures on the convention floor throughout the previous evening and ended up getting over 400 delegates to back the amendment. Prior to the vote, Palestine American League co-founder Yassar Dahbour and Jewish Voice for Peace Action supporter David Mandel called on the 3,300 California delegates to include the amendment in the platform. The amendment read:
Proactively seek a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflicted negotiated by the parties that guarantees equality, security and democracy for all, no matter what the final settlement regarding states and borders. Israeli Jews and Palestinians alike deserve peace, dignity, self-determination, security and a normal life free from occupation, terror and incitement. Oppose any unilateral annexation of territory, and support the right of all those who were forced from their homes to return to their homelands and receive compensation for their losses.
Although other outlets have reported that roughly 65% of the delegates ultimately rejected the resolution, there was no actual vote tally and activists point to the fact that the chair quickly assessed a voice vote. A photo taken during the vote suggests that 65% could be a severe misinterpretation of the actual results. (My earlier account of this too; see endnote.)
Similar sentiments were expressed by Progressive Zionists of California (PZC) founding member Susan George. “We are pleased the party has once again rejected extremism, and decided to focus on unifying issues. 2020 is the election of a lifetime, and we must focus on keeping the tremendous gains California Democrats made in 2018, not get derailed by a divisive conversation,” said George.
Just one day after the convention, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration now rejects a 1978 State Department legal opinion that classified Israeli settlements as illegal.
Correction: An earlier version of this article relied on inaccurate reporting from Jewish Telegraphic Agency on the platform battle. We cited incorrect vote totals and asserted that an anti-BDS amendment was included in the final version of the platform. That amendment was included in an earlier draft of the platform, but was removed as a result of effective activist pressure. We apologize for our report.