Washington Post

Posted by Washington Post on September 06, 2012 in News Clips

Not only are Democrats diverse on divinity, they also include a multitude of opinions on the Jewish state, and the shape that a negotiated settlement of its dispute with the Palestinians may take.

Much of the growing Muslim constituency within the party — there are four times as many Muslim delegates this year as in 2004 — wanted to keep the platform the way it was.

Noor Ul-Hasan, a Muslim delegate from Salt Lake City, explained why she opposed the Jerusalem amendment. “We have two Muslims in our delegation and we have two Jews as well,” she told the website TPM. “We work together. But I think if they told me that they were going to make a Muslim city be the capital, I think we’d be dividing our Democrats.”

Also opposed to the Jerusalem amendment were non-Muslims who said the status of Jerusalem should be decided during the peace process.

Orthodox Jewish leaders welcomed the change. “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided so that — as has been the case only under Israeli sovereignty — people of all faiths have access to all holy sites,” read a statement from the Orthodox Union.

The Arab American Institute accused the party of forcing the Jerusalem amendment into the platform and called it a “knee-jerk reaction to baseless accusations from the far-right that the Democratic Party has’thrown Israel under the bus.’”

Also unhappy: atheists. Hemant Mehta, chairman of Foundation Beyond Belief, wrote in his “Friendly Atheist” blog that the Democrats showed some “backbone” by initially leaving God out of the platform. “Belief in God is a personal choice and there’s no reason to include reference to one faith or one system of belief in a platform designed to represent a large, far-from-monolithic party.”

“You knew it wasn’t going to last,” he added.

But if the Democrats have managed to press through the God/Jerusalem debacle in Charlotte, the issues remain for them during the campaign to come, said Willie Jennings, a theology professor at Duke University’s divinity school.

“The Republicans are going to need to try to find as many as ways as possible to fire their base up,” Jennings said. “God language, religion, is one way.”

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