The Big Oy: Israel and the DNC

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 5 2012 10:58 PM

The Big Oy: Israel and the DNC

CHARLOTTE -- The first familiar face I saw inside the Time Warner Cable Arena was that of former Rep. Robert Wexler, who represented a heavily Jewish district in Florida until he left to run the Center for Middle East Peace. It didn't feel like I was the first person to ask him about Jerusalem-gate -- the admittedly ridiculous name we're giving the confused booing of the restored Israel/God language.

"The president's record is excellent when it comes to Israel in every respect," he said, "particularly when it comes to stopping Iran's nuclear weapons program. The president actually intervened today, to put the 2008 language back in, to reiterate his committment to Israel. And, you know, I'm glad." So what were the delegates booing about? "My understanding is that it was over the God amendment. I think that was the confusion -- process, not substance."

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A few other reporters found the congressman and kept nudging him. The new language, he said, was "stronger than the Republican platform. The Republican platform this year was amended to take out the language requiring the embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem." Obama, though: "He's the strongest president on Israel since Harry Truman!"

Inside the arena, I found delegates ready to put the whole story behind them. Two Missouri delegates tried to convince me that their fellows did not quite understand what was being voted on -- sure, there was some rejection of the Israel lines, but who knew how much? A California delegate talked helpfully, until I mentioned that I was curious about the platform vote.

"Isn't it a beautiful day?" he said with a smile. "Let's go, Dodgers!"

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.