Actually, Both Party Platforms Dial Back the Jerusalem References

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 5 2012 1:33 PM

Actually, Both Party Platforms Dial Back the Jerusalem References

CHARLOTTE -- A perceptive reader writes in about the ongoing controversy over how Israel's referred to in the DNC platform.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

I find a lot of the criticism surprising since my understanding is that AIPAC reviewed several versions of the language and never raised this issue once. Second, Pres. Bush has a history here ("the status of Jerusalem will be ultimately determined by the interested parties" and he never delivered on his promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem "as soon" as he took office) that DNC critics are conveniently ignoring.

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Why didn't this occur to anybody yesterday? Yeah -- what changed between the 2008 and 2012 RNC platforms as concerns Israel? Let's compare. 2008:

Israel is a vigorous democracy, unique in the Middle East.

2012:

Israel and the United States are part of the great fellowship of democracies who speak the same language of freedom and justice, and the right of every person to live in peace.

2008:

We reaffirm America's commitment to Israel's security and will ensure that Israel maintains a qualitative edge in military technology over any potential adversaries. Israel must have secure, defensible borders and we support its right to exist as a Jewish state able to defend itself against homicide bombings, rocket and mortar fire, and other attacks against its people.

2012:

The security of Israel is in the vital national security interest of the United States; our alliance is based not only on shared interests, but also shared values. We affirm our unequivocal commitment to Israel’s security and will ensure that it maintains a qualitative edge in military technology over any potential adversaries. We support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state with secure, defensible borders.

Not many differences, but the new version is less detailed and less bellicose. 2008:

We support the vision of two democratic states living in peace and security: Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital, and Palestine. For that to become a reality, the Palestinian people must support leaders who reject terror, embrace the institutions and ethos of democracy, and respect the rule of law. We call on Arab governments throughout the region to help advance that goal.

2012:

We envision two democratic states – Israel with Jerusalem as its capital and Palestine – living in peace and security. For that to happen, the Palestinian people must support leaders who reject terror, embrace the institutions and ethos of democracy, and respect the rule of law. We call on Arab governments throughout the region to help advance that goal. Israel should not be expected to negotiate with entities pledged to her destruction.

That last line is new. There's a reason. 2008:

We support Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and moving the American embassy to that undivided capital of Israel. The U.S. seeks a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, negotiated between the parties themselves, without the imposition of an artificial timetable, and without the demand that Israel deal with entities which continue to pledge her destruction.

2012:

We call on the new government in Egypt to fully uphold its peace treaty with Israel.The U.S. seeks a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, negotiated between the parties themselves with the assistance of the U.S., without the imposition of an artificial timetable. Essential to that process will be a just, fair, and realistic framework for dealing with the issues that can be settled on the basis of mutually agreed changes reflecting today’s realities as well as tomorrow’s hopes.

Spot the difference? It no longer supports "Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel." And yet Eric Cantor says that in the Democratic platform -- implicitly only that platform --  "Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital has been excised."

The bigger gripe with the Democrats' platform should probably be the removal of Hamas language. Both parties scaled back the Jerusalem language, probably with good reason.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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