Jerusalem, God, and American politics

You''ve heard about the dog that didn''t bark.

Now we have the sentence that was not in the draft of the Democrats'' platform.

It was there in 2008.

According to the New York Times, the key sentence was, “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel”.The Jerusalem Post adds "It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths."

The Jerusalem Post has it almost right. The 2008 language, now replaced in the 2012 version, is

"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 nuances between the New York Times and Jerusalem Post might be worth a quarrel if anyone actually believes that party platforms are serious commitments.

God also was absent from the draft platform, and got a reprieve in the final version. The Almighty doesn''t get as many words ftom the Democrsts as His Holy City, but there He is, saving the Party from a Republican assault that it was out of touch with all that is sacred. In keeping with Democratic traditions, He is assigned to the working class.

"We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential."

Jerusalem''s status did not return without some noisy opposition. The New York Times reports, "The change, approved in a voice vote that had to be taken three times because of a chorus of noes in the arena." (Well known is the rule that interpretation of a voice vote depends on the chair, and when the chair wants approval there is approval, sooner or later.)

The Times'' lead paragraph assigns responsibility for the resurrection to the President himself. "President Obama,seeking to quell a storm of criticism from Republicans and pro-Israel groups, directed the Democratic Party on Wednesday to amend its platform to restore language declaring Jerusalem the Israeli capital."

The Republican platform is stronger on both God (two mentions) and Israel. Both parties adopt the two-state solution, but the Republicans are explicit in blaming Arabs for frustrating the peace process.
"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. For that to happen, the Palestinian people must support leaders who reject terror, embrace the institutions and ethos of democracy, and respect the rule of law. We call on Arab governments throughout the region to help advance that goal. Israel should not be expected to negotiate with entities pledged to her destruction. We call on the new government in Egypt to fully uphold its peace treaty with Israel."

When it became apparent on Wednesday that the dog did not bark, the silence received prominent attention by Israeli media and politicians. Sheldon Adelson''s Israel Hayom had a headline on the top of its front page, coupled with a picture of Barack Obama, " ''Jerusalem capital of Israel'' erased from Obama''s platform . . . Romney attacks, ''Shameful'' ."

The Chair (Speaker) of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin, said that "Obama doesn''t understand the Mideast" and "Democrats'' removal of Jerusalem as Israel''s capital from platform is a bigger problem than disagreements on Iran."

Rivlin is intense on the issue of Jerusalem. He is the most prominent figure in his generation of a family that has been in the city for generations, with its name on several landmarks. When interviewed about just about anything, he typically begins his response by noting that he is speaking from Jerusalem, the undivided capital of Israel.

Several editions of Israel''s Thursday morning news broadcasts led off with Jerusalem''s return to the Democrats'' platform. However, Knesset Chair Rivlin was skeptical. He said that the Democrats'' reinstatement of Jerusalem as Israel''s capital in the party platform was too little too late, and the original omission indicates a "reduction of US government''s strategic commitment to Israel. . . . I have no doubt that Obama put Jerusalem back in his party''s platform out of political and electoral considerations and because of the sharp criticism from Israel and the US."

What does all this portend about

  • The weight of Jews and/or Israel in American politics?
  • The importance of those convention delegates who shouted "No" on the voice vote to restore the language on Jerusalem?
  • The outcome of the presidential election?
  • The future of Jerusalem?
  • Israel and Palestinians?
  • Iran?

I''ll admit to being ignorant of any political science that shows connections between party convention maneuverings over platform language and what is likely to happen in the election or subsequent to it. If any of my professional colleagues knows something I have missed, please let me know.

Insofar as both Ann Romney and Michelle Obama had major roles in the conventions, someone might search the web to find their thoughts on Jerusalem.

Maybe God knows the answers to all of these questions. Both parties recognize Him, and Jerusalem is His City.