Jerusalem has many mysteries, but none may be as perplexing at present as its temporary disappearance from the Democratic Party platform.
Several people involved in the platform’s writing who spoke to JTA late Monday and early Tuesday said they did not know how boilerplate references to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital that have appeared in Democratic platforms for decades were dropped from the platform before its release Monday night.
But by late Tuesday afternoon – after Republicans launched a full-force offensive criticizing the omission – the Democrats reversed course. Robert Wexler, a member of the platform draft committee, and a chief Jewish surrogate for the Obama campaign, credited President Obama for the change.
“They are returning the language to the 2008 situation,” Wexler told JTA late Tuesday. “The president directly intervened to make sure this amendment happened.”
He and other party sources told JTA and other news outlets that language affirming Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be inserted into the party platform by a voice vote on Wednesday evening. What may have appeared to skeptics as an exercise in damage control was described by Democratic insiders as the correction of an inadvertent error.
Earlier Tuesday, Republicans had slammed the ommission.
“It is unfortunate that the entire Democratic Party has embraced President Obama’s shameful refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, said in a statement. Romney called Jerusalem Israel’s capital during his visit to the city in July.
Mostly lost in the debate over the Democratic platform was that Republicans also altered the language on Jerusalem in their document, removing a specific reference to the city as Israel’s “undivided” capital and a promise to move the U.S. Embassy there.
Initial statements from the Democratic National Committee in Charlotte, where the party’s convention is being held, suggested that the intention indeed was to bring the platform in compliance with White House policy. The statements noted that it has never been the policy of any president , Republican or Democrat, to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.