Ron Kampeas tries to get to the bottom of who was responsible for leaving a formulaic mention of Jerusalem out of the Democratic platform. Bottom line: No one knows!
JTA spoke to three people directly involved in shaping the platform, and a number of others who had consulted with the party. The short answer: no one knew.
“There was no discussion on it,” said Robert Wexler, a member of the platform draft committee, and a chief Jewish surrogate for the Obama campaign. “It’s a good question.”
Wexler, formerly a Florida congressman, said that those shaping the platform were not focused on final-status issues, which include Jerusalem. He said he did not know if there was a directive from the Obama campaign to avoid such issues, but said it was fair to “deduce” that there was.
The “issues” here are whether the DNC platform should be in line with the policies of this White House, which like every White House before it maintains that the status of Jerusalem should be resolved in final status negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
In truth, every candidate pledges to declare Jerusalem Israel’s “undivided capital” and then, as soon as he gets elected, never delivers on the promise of officially declaring Jerusalem Israel’s capital. Both parties have indulged in this hypocrisy. As Daniel Treiman points out in JTA, “Every Democratic platform, with one exception, going back all the way to 1972 had included language affirming Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
I don’t know why the Dems didn’t stick with this formula from the 2008 platform: “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.” The “Jerusalem is” formula isn’t so much a pledge as it is a recognition of the truth: Israel does and will always regard Jerusalem as its capital — no matter how it may or may not be divided up come final status negotiations. It commits the candidate to nothing except accepting a fact on the ground.
The Republican platform this year manages to massage the message in a similar way, in a very clever bit of wording:
We support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state with secure, defensible borders; and we envision two democratic states—Israel with Jerusalem as its capital and Palestine—living in peace and security.
You see what they did there? The RNC ”envisions” Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. That doesn’t commit a candidate to declaring Israel Jerusalem’s capital before the issue is settled bilaterally.
So maybe someone at the White House or the platform committee didn’t want to play these semantic games. Fine. Very admirable. But do they want to win the election?