Friday, September 7, 2012

Obama once again bows down to Israel over Palestine

US President Barack Obama gestures after his nomination
acceptance speech at the Time Warner Cable Arena in 
Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 6, 2012 on the final 
day of the Democratic National Convention

Obama erred politically and humiliated himself and his party needlessly with his sell-out in Charlotte. He gained nothing in the way of Zionist support because the lobby has made clear from Tel Aviv to New York that it will never trust him on Israel as they increasingly coalesce around the Romney-Ryan ticket.

As a former law professor, President Obama knows something about international law and US constitutional law which he taught at the University of Chicago.

But he repudiated both, besmirched his academic bona fides, violated Democratic Party rules and hurt his campaign on 12/5/12 by ordering the Democratic Party to summarily change earlier a twice debated and adopted plank of the Democratic Platform on the subject of the status of Jerusalem.

The reason this observer even took the time to read the 26,561 word, 37 page 2012 Democratic Party Platform which guides every Democratic candidate for both Houses of Congress and the party’s Presidential candidate, and to a lesser degree, thousands of Democratic Party candidates across the USA is, well, nostalgia.

And I read every word from my preferred relaxation spot which is on the top of my fine new14 story Waad apartment building in the Hezbollah security zone of Dahiyeh, South Beirut. The high-rise was rebuilt, (Israel bombed it and 251 other residential buildings during the July 2006 33-day aggression, reducing it to rubble and dust with two US gifted MK-83 1000 lb. bombs) and my perch has a wonderful view of the mountains to the east and the Mediterranean to the west.

As I studied the platform, among my ducks and chickens that I raise on the roof, I couldn’t help thinking of my own experience, now more than a quarter century ago from my time representing Oregon as Democratic National Committeeman under Jimmy Carter and being a member of the 1980 DNC Platform Committee while working in Washington on Ted Kennedy’s issues staff as he tried to wrest our party’s nomination from our incumbent President. It was not easy for the Kennedy campaign to do and as history records our campaign petered out. But not before, not too unlike what occurred this week, a Middle East issue caused some sparks and we had big battles on the Platform Committee.

Here’s what happened. DNC Chairman, Charles Manatt, named by President Carter, appointed me to both the Platform Committee and the DNC Judicial Council. At the time I had not started working for Senator Ted Kennedy. I did not make a connection then, and perhaps I am wrong, but his thinking might have been that if there were any challenges to our Platform procedure they would be ruled on by the DNC Judicial Council and having me on both might be a good idea. One of my colleagues on the Judicial Council was a sprite and ambitious lady from California named Nancy Pelosi. She eventually ascended in the party, through her political skills, hard work, and with the help of her mentor, California’s State Chair Burt Coffee, while this observer… well, descended.

Besides getting bored at the DNC after four years, I did not ingratiate myself much to the DNC leadership when I switched sides and supported the EMK 80 campaign, disrespecting our incumbent president or so our White House contacts Tim Kraft, Hamilton Jordan and the DNC Chairman’s office thought.

But another problem involved my work on the Platform Committee. At the 1980 final session of the Platform Committee I presented a Petition calling for the Party to endorse a State of Palestine and urged US recognition of the PLO. What happened within an hour of my proposal and the Washington Post, New Republic etc articles the next day is a report for another day. But it was not pretty and the NR has been on my case ever since.

The decision made by the DNC Platform committee this year cut the 2004 and 2008 Platform sentence “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel” and was the result of several months of work by the platform committee analyzing written submissions, receiving oral presentations, and participating in discussions and debate sessions around the country. To the party’s credit, removing the earlier language reflected international law, both UN Resolution and international customary law based on the overwhelming consensus of more than 188 member countries of the United Nations with very few exceptions being Israel. All of which assert that the status of Jerusalem, whether it’s to be the capital of Palestine, Israel, both or internationalized, is to be left to final status negotiations between the native Palestinians and their colonial occupiers. Nor did the expunged language reflect Obama’s personal views.
Following reports that the Romney campaign was going to run ads asking where is God and support for Israel in the Democrats platform, Obama hastily and ill-advisedly, in this observers view, ordered the Platform Committee to restore the language of both. At the same time, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the nation’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, which had urged including language about Jerusalem’s status as the Israeli capital in written testimony to the platform drafting committee, made clear that they were troubled by the omission of their favor Jerusalem language.
As required by Democratic Party rules, the language change needs to be approved by a 2/3 floor vote called by Platform Committee Chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. He did put the vote at the beginning of the 9/5/12 Convention session. However since video/audio reports, including C-Span, make plain the delegates voted roughly 50/50, well shy of required 2/3’s , Villaraigosa called for a second and then a third vote which produced the same result. Each time there was a cacophony of “No’s’! from the assembled delegates which were ignored.

Mayor Villaraigosa violated Party rules again when he rejected motions for a roll-call vote and repeated ‘points of order” from the floor. He then falsely announced that 2/3’s had agreed to the language change. He then abruptly walked off the podium thereby profoundly disrespecting the party stalwarts who support it with their hard work and organizational skills. The Party now faces the prospect of a full convention vote on the issue or a court challenge if delegates choose not to let Obama’s betrayal stand.

The reason the 2012 Platform Committee Members changed the former language is that the old position was ludicrous according to expert testimony presented at the Platform hearings and also because this year’s platform reflected, to a modest degree at least, the overdue and increasing power of Arab and Muslim Americans who, often as small business people have largely considered themselves Republicans. But more are becoming active in the Democratic Party. These new party activists are informed about the issue of Palestine and take the status of Jerusalem seriously.
Either way the Romney campaign was sure to claim, as they are doing right now that: “Mr. Obama has refused to state his position on Jerusalem and Israel.” Andrea Saul, a Romney spokeswoman, is telling the media: “Now is the time for President Obama to state in unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.”
Obama erred politically and humiliated himself and his party needlessly with his sell-out in Charlotte. He gained nothing in the way of Zionist support because the lobby has made clear from Tel Aviv to New York that it will never trust him on Israel as they increasingly coalesce around the Romney-Ryan ticket.

Meanwhile, AIPAC released a statement on 9/6/12: “We welcome reinstatement to the Democratic platform of the language reaffirming Jerusalem as Israel’s capital”.

One imagines that Obama’s nemeses, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, is chortling.

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