The Democrats are currently engaged in a civil war over U.S. policy toward Israel that threatens to blow up on the convention floor in a messy, divisive debate that could damage Hillary Clinton with a key constituency.
The barely disguised anti-Semitism of Bernie Sanders supporters was on display at a drafting session of the party platform.
Clinton has secured enough delegates to win the party’s presidential nomination, but Sanders is vowing to take his campaign all the way to the Philadelphia convention in order to maximize his leverage and yank the still-evolving platform to the left.
Sanders supporters have wasted no time advocating their position during the platform drafting process, where they’re calling to exclude references to Jerusalem while advancing the notion that Israeli settlements in the West Bank represent “an occupation” –– language adamantly opposed by many Clinton backers, who say it would undermine the peace process.
“For too long the Democratic Party’s been beholden to AIPAC [and] didn’t take seriously the humanity of Palestinian brothers and sisters,” Cornel West, an educator and activist appointed by Sanders to the drafting committee, said last week, referring to the pro-Israel lobbying group.
“We’re at a turning point now.”
The Israel debate highlights a key challenge facing Democratic leaders as they seek to unite the party and move from an often contentious primary to November’s general election.
Clinton has been a staunch defender of Israel throughout her career. But many liberals have criticized her position as overly hawkish, leaving party leaders with the delicate task of adopting an Israel plank that represents her views –– and doesn’t anger Jewish voters –– without alienating the Sanders supporters who tend to be sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and distrust the former secretary of State on issues of foreign policy.
While both Clinton and Sanders are strong advocates of a two-state solution, their divergent positions when it comes to Israel’s actions and strategy have been on stark display throughout the primary.
Clinton has defended Israel’s use of force against Hamas and dismissed criticisms about “disproportionate force” harming civilians as an unfortunate part of that defense. She has accused Palestinian leaders of allowing Hamas to turn Gaza into “a terrorist haven.” And, speaking at an annual AIPAC convention in March, she said “America can’t ever be neutral when it comes to Israel’s security or survival.”
“Some things aren’t negotiable,” she said, “and anyone who doesn’t understand that has no business being our president.”
Sanders wants a more “even handed” approach to the Palestinians, which is code for accepting Hamas propaganda as fact and giving legitimacy to thugs and terrorists. The notion that, as Cornel West says, Democrats are “beholden” to AIPAC is a thinly veiled reference to the anti-Semitic idea that Jews “control” the U.S. government.
Hillary Clinton would be no picnic for Prime Minister Netanyahu to deal with. But the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party represents a threat to Israel’s security that most of Israel’s supporters oppose.
Author: Rick Moran