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Clinton Wins: Language Criticizing Israel taken out of DNC Platform

posted on: Jun 28, 2016

BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer

On Saturday, Democrats finally approved the much-anticipated draft of the party platform, which affirms the party’s support for Israel. The platform writing committee debated late into the night about what conditions regarding Israel were to be included in the platform.

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, and one of Bernie Sanders’ picks for the committee, proposed an amendment that would have called for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine and the illegal settlements. The amendment also called for an international effort to rebuild Gaza, while making Jerusalem an undivided city open to people of all faiths. Finally, the amendment also removed criticism of the United Nations and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement – two characterizing issues of the Israeli government. Only Zogby and other Sanders’s supporters voted for the amendment; it was voted down five to eight.

A Palestinian protester climbs Israel's controversial separation barrier during clashes with Israeli security forces following a demonstration against Israeli settlements and its separation wall, in the West Bank village of Nilin near the Jewish settlement of Hashmonaim (background), on May 31, 2013. AFP PHOTO/ ABBAS MOMANI (Photo credit should read ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
A Palestinian protester climbs Israel’s separation barrier separating Palestinians from Israeli settlements (ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Zogby said Sanders helped draft this amendment, which was defeated by Clinton’s committee picks. For two weeks, the platform-writing group has been making headlines for its discussions on Israel. Another one of Sanders’s choices, Dr. Cornel West, called for the party to stop unconditionally supporting Israel, attacking BDS, and abusing Palestinian rights. In a historic moment, both West and Zogby argued against Clinton’s pick, saying peace cannot exist in the region without an end to the occupation and acknowledgment of Palestinian suffering and rights.

The draft is in line with Clinton’s stance on Israel and Palestine, which calls for a two-state solution, ensures Israel’s security, and gives Palestinians an independent and dignified state. After the rejection for excluding even the word “occupation” from the platform, Dr. Cornel West decided to abstain from voting on the platform because he was morally outraged by the lack of honesty.

Another amendment written by James Zogby was shot down by Clinton supporters. The amendment read: “To this end, the Democratic Party does not support direct U.S. military intervention against the Assad regime, including the imposition of no-fly zones or safe zones.” Sanders has said several times that he opposes an intervention in Syria, but Clinton’s hawkish, interventionist policies won the vote.

Secretary_Clinton_before_her_meeting_With_Israeli_Prime_Minister-Designate_(3326623332)
Hillary Clinton with PM Netanyahu in 2009

Since she began her presidential campaign, Clinton’s servile relationship with Israel has been as ubiquitous as ever, and often criticized by the Arab American community. Clinton has vowed on a myriad of occasions to maintain and strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship, put a stop to BDS, and protect Israeli lives from Palestinians.

Despite Clinton’s win, the platform was able to debate topics never seen before in mainstream politics. Zogby and Rep. Kieth Ellison (D-MN), who is one of only two American Muslims in Congress, said there were losses, but also wins for Sanders’s picks. “We’ve made some substantial moves forward,” said Ellison.

The platform draft does not guarantee the party’s stances on the issues debated. Rather, the platform serves as a forum for inter-party disputes on stances. These topics will be debated again at the Democratic National Convention on July 25 in Philadelphia. There, 187 representatives from the Democratic Party will vote on what to formally include in the platform.

Since the party is still divided on the question of Israel, there is hope that recognition of Palestinian lives will be addressed again next month.