Posted by on September 06, 2012 in Blog

There is plenty of blame to go around for the fiasco on the floor of the Democratic National Convention yesterday, where an amendment to the Party platform was forced through the convention floor despite significant vocal opposition.

Much has been said about the fallout, which has engendered significant anger from both sides, and the Democratic Party establishment has received – deservedly – much of the blame.

Many analysts were glad to see the DNC’s 2012 platform had removed any of previous language regarding the indivisibility of Jerusalem; its inclusion was meant purely to demonstrate pro-Israel credentials, even while it directly contravening the internationally-accepted understanding that Jerusalem’s final status can only be determined in direct negotiations between the parties themselves. Even the Republican platform, though significantly more hawkish and hyperbolic on foreign policy issues, removed language on Jerusalem’s indivisibility.

Unfortunately, the Party appears to have caved to hardline pressure, and amended the language to re-insert a commitment to an “undivided” Jerusalem.

It should be noted that the amendment is effectively meaningless beyond a purely symbolic level. The amended language still prioritizes the importance of a final negotiated agreement, insists on full access to all parties, and has no real influence on actual policymaking on the issue. 

Still, the poor judgment exercised by the party leadership, and the steam-rolling of the amendment against the wishes of the delegates who should ostensibly have the ultimate decision-making responsibility over it, is a black mark on the Democratic Party’s grassroots ideals, its commitment to diversity and inclusion, and its claim to be a party accountable to its constituents.

Right-wing media also deserves its own share of the blame, for creating an issue where none should have existed. The 2012 platform language – even without the Jerusalem portion – makes the Democratic Party’s commitment to Israel crystal clear, as does decades of government policy in the hands of Democrats. President Obama’s own commitment to Israel has been described as “unparalleled” by American and Israeli policymakers alike.

The media acted equally irresponsibly toward the delegates, including the record-breaking number of Arab Americans serving this year. Some, like Washington delegate Majid Al-Bahadli, were presented as radical, un-American, or anti-Semitic, and their behavior was described as “booing Jerusalem.” The delegates had real and responsible concerns about the change in language, and even more important concerns about the Party’s lack of respect for its own procedural rules. For a better look at Majid’s true passions and intentions, read our delegate profile here.

Despite the understandable frustration around this issue, it is important to also see the silver lining. The delegates’ rejection of the Jerusalem language is unprecedented in either party’s history, and represents a growing consensus in American politics that blind acquiescence to hardline Israeli demands is counterproductive, dangerous, and irresponsible.

For that, we should be encouraged by the progress we have made, proud of the delegates who stood up for the issues we believe in, and optimistic about the future victories that Arab American political engagement will bring.  

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