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Posted at 10:32 AM ET, 09/05/2012

The DNC’s Israel debacle

The Democrats’s Israel debacle goes on. When last we left things, Democratic National Committee chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (R-Fla.) was effectively called a liar by the Israeli ambassador, whom she claimed had accused Republicans of endangering Israel. Well that got worse. Wasserman Schultz called Phil Klein, the reporter who exposed her comment, a liar; he then produced an audiotape. Will no one call for this woman’s resignation? Is there no level of duplicity that is intolerable to the Democrats? (No need to answer; we know.) The White House apologized for smearing Charles Krauthammer over the Churchill bust incident, but can the DNC muster an apology for Klein?

Meanwhile, the fight over the Democratic Party platform on Israel and the Obama team’s unsuccessful and insulting effort to claim pro-Israel leaders approved weakening the 2008 platform language has gotten, if possible, worse.

Now the Orthodox Union, whose executive director for public policy, Nathan Diament, at times has doggedly defended the administration) sends me a statement from the OU: “The platform released late Monday, to be voted upon today in Charlotte, NC, makes no mention of Jerusalem or of the issue of Israel’s capital. By contrast, the 2008 platform stated that ‘Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.’ ” The statement continues: “At a time when Arab leaders persistently assert falsehoods about Jerusalem’s history, and deny the ancient Jewish connection to our holy city, the decision of national leaders of the Democratic Party to go silent on this issue is extremely disappointing.” It then caustically adds: “Facts are facts; Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, and America’s national leaders do no service to the people of the Mideast or the world by refusing to acknowledge these crucial facts.” Yikes.

The blunder has made life complicated for pro-Israel Democrats who are now at pains to explain their party’s views. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer had a rough go of it on CBS:

Yowser. That will wind up in an ad somewhere.

The president and his administration, to borrow their phrase, just don't get it. An overwhelming number of Americans are pro-Israel. There is little if any public support for giving Israel the cold shoulder (and those Israel-bashers on the far left aren’t voting against Obama anyway). As a political matter, it makes no sense. As a policy matter, distancing the United States from Israel diplomatically and rhetorically has been a disaster, leaving the peace process dead, the Israelis believing they must act on their own against Iran and our credibility in the region shredded. (If the United States gives its best ally the back of the hand, how reliable is it?)

The president should address this personally, renounce the State Department’s equivocation and reject the platform language. If he can’t tell his own party what the capital of Israel is, that we should isolate Hamas and that Palestinian refugees will eventually be settled in the Palestinian state (all 2008 platform items), how is he going to defend Israel on the international stage?

Update (11:40 a.m.): VP nominee Rep. Paul Ryan blasts the Democrats on the platform language on Israel as well as removing any reference to God: “This is tragic . . . First of all, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Mitt Romney and I are very clear on this and right of return and the other issues you mentioned. But what is so tragic about this is it’s one of the few issues where the Republican party and the Democratic party agree on.” But not so much the White House. He continued: “I think its rather peculiar. It’s not in keeping with our founding documents, our founding vision. But I’d guess you’d have to ask the Obama administration why they purged all this language from their platform. There sure is a lot of mention of government, so I guess I would put the onus on them to answer why they did all these purges of God.”

By  |  10:32 AM ET, 09/05/2012

Categories:  2012 campaign, Israel

 
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