Charlotte was the site of the recent Democratic National Convention but, to me, it looked more like Hokey Pokey politics, certainly as viewed from Jerusalem and as it relates to Israel.
The week got started when it was revealed that the Democratic platform omitted any reference to God, and canceled previous platforms’ recognizing of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443571904577631964277733388.html?mod=googlenews_wsj)
As the uproar unfolded, in what came across almost as a diversion tactic, Florida’s Democratic congressional leader and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was caught blatantly lying about comments allegedly attributed to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEQk-vM78eI)
The Democrats, either realizing the gross (albeit deliberate) omission, or fearing the backlash of their omission, came back the next day and held a bizarre vote on an amendment to put Jerusalem and God back into the Democratic platform. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCyVZBjcae0) Yet, heat remains over several other key clauses that were removed have remained out including: calling Israel the US’ most reliable ally in the Mid East, isolation of Hamas as a terrorist organization, settlement of “refugees” only in a Palestinian state, and rejection of the 1949 “Green Line” as the borders.
Who and what was behind the removal of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is not clear yet. What is clear, is that it was not an accident. There’s a vast difference between forgetting to include something in a document and then going back and adding it afterward, and what happened in Charlotte which was an active decision to remove reference to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The former could almost be forgiven. The later needs to be called into question.
Regardless of whether the removal of this clause was approved by the White House or not, it’s clear that there is a negative trickle down from the Obama administration’s shift and lack of recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (http://www.timesofisrael.com/white-house-stumped-on-israels-capital/)
For decades, support for Israel and issues like acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital have been bi-partisan, by Democrats and Republicans alike, and part of every Democratic platform since 1972 except one. The palpable shift in the Obama administration policies vis a vis Israel has trickled down to the entire party, regardless of the awkward and farcical vote to reinstate the language that the White House still won’t utter.
While I can’t put thoughts into the heart of the one Arab American who was seen adamantly protesting the second (and third and fourth and fifth) vote on the revised Democratic platform, a few things come to mind. Though his reality, narrative, and facts are vastly different than mine, I respect his right to hold his views, and am grateful that as Americans, he and I are blessed to be able to express our feelings openly, without fear of retribution that one might expect in other parts of the Middle East. Like the US, Israel is the only country in the Middle East where that could happen.
I can’t help but wonder, however, if his adamant and animated protest was based on a lack of balance; that the Democrats did not also recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of a not-yet state of Palestine. Or, was his protest based on an Arab/Islamic decades long history of denial of Jerusalem as a Jewish city, the heart and soul of the Jewish people. These denials (lies) have been more pronounced of late, (http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=282090).
Just like the White House setting the pace and tone for the Democratic Party by not acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which trickled down into the removal of that from their platform, so too, when the Palestinian leadership denies any Jewish connection to Jerusalem, and speaks of the “alleged” Temple, it’s a logical inference that people like this one Arab delegate are coming from a place of rejection of Israel’s and the Jewish people’s legitimate, undeniable and Biblical claim to Jerusalem, for more than 3000 years. Sharing Jerusalem is not what they want. What they want is Israel out of Jerusalem.
It is true that one can only make peace with your enemies. The vast majority of Israelis want peace and are prepared to make deep sacrifices for it. Jews pray for peace three times a day and Jerusalem is the center of our prayers and the direction in which we pray. Yet, making peace still requires an enemy who recognizes the other’s right to exist. The reality is that Arab rhetoric constantly denies Israel and the Jewish people such legitimacy.
Of course, maybe the protest over the amendment to the Democratic platform wasn’t about Israel and Jerusalem at all. Maybe it was just a protest of God. That’s a comfort!
Despite the denials, the lies, and the spectacle that prevailed in Charlotte, there is one thing upon which we can all rest assured, and serves as a charge for our affirmation of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel and the heart of the Jewish people. Jerusalem and God go hand in hand. As it says in Psalms 137:5, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget [its skill].”