[Updated 9:45 p.m.]
Jewish leaders familiar with the Democratic National Convention platform process tell Right Turn that the allegation published tonight by the Huffington Post that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) vetted changes to the section of the party platform regarding Israel is “patently false.”
The Huffington Post reported that two unnamed Democratic sources claim that AIPAC saw, approved and “loved” the language. This was at odds with the near-uniform reaction of pro-Israel Democrats, as well as of outside groups, who raised complaints publicly and in private about how the platform language had changed from 2008. In that document, Democrats identified Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state, vowed to isolate Hamas and reiterated that Palestinian refugees should find a home in a future Palestinian state.
A source close to AIPAC, who was not authorized to speak on the record, told me this evening, “AIPAC officials were not in the room while the platform was being drafted. AIPAC did not receive or review the Middle East part of the platform.” The source continued, “Israel is our most reliable ally. ‘Jerusalem is the capital of Israel’ was part of the AIPAC submission to the platform committee.”
In other words, multiple sources say, the sources talking to the Huffington Post are lying.
Needless to say, such detailed information about the drafting of the platform is virtually never provided to the press, but the nature of the allegation and the anger in the pro-Israel community over the platform language set this episode apart.
The Huffington Post did not include comment from AIPAC or any other Jewish organization in its initial report; it later updated that post with AIPAC’s explicit denial of its reporting.
A knowledgeable official with close ties to the most prominent pro-Israel groups tells me the entire platform committee process on Israel was “secretive.” Bits and pieces of the new language were shown to Jewish leaders, but never the controversial language, this official says. Leaders first saw the complete language after — and not before — it was finalized. They heatedly dispute that they are pleased with the language, as the Huffington Post sources allege.
One pro-Israel Jewish leader not associated with AIPAC e-mails that the language was probably an attempt to sync up the platform with President Obama’s rhetoric and language. Recently, the administration caught flak for refusing to identify Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. To be consistent, the refusal to identify the capital of the Jewish state would have necessitated removing from the platform the language that then-candidate Barack Obama used in 2008, explicitly stating that Israel’s capital is Jerusalem. The notion that pro-Israel groups who publicly and privately criticized the administration’s reticence and submitted language on the capital were pleased with the platform is preposterous.
Both the inexplicable decision to change the language and the bald-faced lie that Israel groups approved the language are likely to further inflame relations between the White House and pro-Israel voters.