Commentary Magazine


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A Wedge Issue Obama Created Himself

We now know that recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a wedge issue — within the Democratic Party itself. After three voice votes yesterday in which the “no” votes equalled or exceeded the “yes” votes, the chairman ruled that the proposal had received the necessary two-thirds vote. But it obviously hadn’t, and the division within the Democratic Party is now obvious as well.

The Democrats did not even try to restore the prior platform positions regarding Israel as the strongest U.S. ally in the Middle East, opposition to the Palestinian goal of destroying the Jewish state with a “right of return,” or isolation of Hamas. If you can’t even win a vote on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, you don’t dare vote on the other wedge issues within the party.

Initially approving a platform that omitted the prior provisions, and then demonstrating in the process of restoring one of them that the omissions were not inadvertent, is the culmination of a longer process: (1) administration spokespersons who repeatedly refused to identify the capital of Israel; (2) a formal warning to the Supreme Court against even symbolically recognizing Jerusalem as being in Israel on the passports of Americans born there; (c) doctoring pictures on the White House website regarding Vice President Biden’s 2010 visit to “Jerusalem, Israel” (and similar references in State Department documents); and (4) failing to visit Jerusalem despite requests by liberal Israeli columnists, every Jewish Democrat in Congress, friendly rabbis, and the Israeli prime minister.

Back in 2008, Barack Obama had four different positions on Jerusalem, disingenuously denying the changes as he made them. Ironically, yesterday he found it necessary to intervene to restore a portion of the 2008 platform that had been omitted this year because of a process he had initiated himself.