Bernie Sanders speaking at an event in Phoenix, Arizona..
(photo credit: GAGE SKIDMORE)
WASHINGTON – The Republican Jewish Coalition has prepared an advertising campaign targeting Democrats over their internal party discussion on Israel policy.
Three members of the Democratic Platform Committee are actively lobbying to sharpen the party’s language on Israel, hoping to include reference to the state’s “occupation” of Palestinian lands and its continued “settlement activity.” Neither term has been used in past Democratic platforms, which are aspirational, non-binding documents reflecting the will of the party in an election year.
All three of these figures – Arab-American activist James Zogby, public intellectual Cornel West and Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress – were appointed to the platform committee by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an Independent and Jewish candidate who outperformed expectations in his primary fight against presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.
Sanders has said he wants the platform to recognize Palestinian rights, as well as the party’s commitment to the Jewish state.
The RJC ad campaign claims that all three of Sanders’s picks are “stridently anti-Israel” and “radical” members of the American Left, Politico first reported. “This isn’t the old Democratic Party,” the ads proclaim, featuring images of Hillary Clinton as the face of the party’s future.
Yet when asked about their input in the platform negotiations, Clinton’s aides told The Jerusalem Post last month that her position – not Sanders’s– will ultimately be the one reflected in the final product.
“I am sure the Democratic Party Platform will reflect longstanding, strong support for Israel,” Wendy Sherman, a Clinton appointee to the committee who served as US President Barack Obama’s chief negotiator in the Iran nuclear negotiations, told the Post.
“Secretary Clinton’s views in support of Israel’s security and an unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel are well known,” she said.
Other aides to the Clinton campaign also consider it highly unlikely that language will be included that would risk harming Clinton’s electoral prospects.
In 2012, the brief removal of a reference to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in the Democratic platform caused public outcry. When the language was reinserted, boos were heard on the convention floor.
Responding to the campaign, the National Jewish Democratic Council accused the RJC of deflecting from “their racist, sexist and bigoted candidate who peddles in anti-Semitic tropes,” referring to Donald Trump.
“Notice how they don’t even mention Hillary Clinton’s actual record,” the NJDC said in a statement.
“As they oppose the only consistently pro-Israel nominee in this race, this is going to be a tough year for RJC – all while more and more of their people stand with Israel and strengthen the US-Israel relationship by abandoning Trump.”