September 6, 2012
If I remember thee Jerusalem. The Democrats just brought it back again
The good news: The Democrats reinstated Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in their platform. This confirms my initial response to this whole affair: it was a mistake. I don’t understand why the Democrats decided to drop Jerusalem, and even with the lame excuses they were giving yesterday, it was clear that they, too, were caught unprepared for the barrage of criticism that awaited them.
So yesterday we had the old spin, and now we have the new spin.
The old spin: The change isn’t significant.
Obviously, the Democrats didn’t believe their own spin – otherwise, they would not have changed the language back.
The Republicans also dropped some language from their platform: This came from Democrats and also from columnists such as David Weigel. In Slate, he compared the 2008 and 2012 Republican platforms to show that the GOP also omitted the “Jerusalem as the undivided capital” of Israel, and the promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem. Nice spin – when used by Democrats – but hardly a convincing one. The GOP still had Jerusalem as the capital. While moving the embassy is technical, recognition of the country’s capital is essence. And about this “undivided” line – if Israel has Jerusalem as its capital, Israel will be in a position to decide if it wants a division of the capital. Bottom line: the comparison didn't fly - it is not that all changes are bad, it is about dropping an important line for no apparent reason.
Bush didn’t move the embassy to Jerusalem: That’s true, but irrelevant.
And the one I quoted from former congressman Robert Wexler: “The Democratic Party platform reflects the president's unflinching commitment to Israel's security and future as a Jewish state”. If this was true, no change would have been needed.
The new spin (coming, unsurprisingly, from the mouth of the same Wexler): The president directly intervened to make sure this amendment happened.
In other words, don’t blame it on Obama - he's the good guy (and also the one standing for reelection). Blame it on someone else (do we have a candidate? Someone who isn’t standing for election).
“We”, Democrats, put “undivided” back – making our platform stronger than the Republicans’. Ok, that’s a fair shot, although, as I said, I’m not sure if undivided is really what Israel needs. I think it's for the best that Republicans can no longer make changes to their platform, or this game of changing the language would have gone on forever.
Last one from Wexler: “He's the strongest president on Israel since Harry Truman!” – namely Obama. And yes, Truman played an important role by recognizing Israel, but did not do much beyond that. Obama has a fine record of supporting Israel, and he also made some miserable mistakes on Israel. He did not do something even remotely as “strong” as Truman had to do, but that’s not his fault. One can’t recognize a country twice. And as for more conventional support: I’d say Lyndon Johnson was stronger, and arguably Clinton, and George W. Bush.
Bottom line: This was a blunder.
Now it’s over. Or is it? As reported by many, the vote was not a decisive one, and "angered many delegates who opposed the reinstatement of the language". So the next Republican ad has already been made for them.
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