Philosopher Cornel Wes embraces Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders at a watch party for the second Democratic presidential debate on Nov. 14, 2015 in Iowa.

Bernie Sanders Backers Fail To Insert Criticism of Israel in Democratic Platform

In its last round of debates, the Democratic Party once again refused to insert language seen as pro-Palestinian into its platform.

The party’s platform committee, convened in Orlando for two days of voting on proposed amendments to the platform, maintained the language agreed upon in the earlier round of debate and defeated amendments aimed at criticizing the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, demanding “an end to illegal settlements” and supporting the re-building of the Gaza Strip.

“Democrats, you’ve been in denial too long,” said scholar and activist Cornel West in a passionate defense of the proposed amendments. He likened the Palestinian issue to “our generation’s Vietnam and South Africa.”

West, like others presenting amendments viewed as pro-Palestinian, is a supporter of Bernie Sanders, who named him to the platform committee.

Nancy Soderberg, an appointee of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, spoke out against the proposed amendment. The current language in the platform already goes a long way toward expressing the views of progressives on Israel, she argued, and added that adopting the Sanders amendment about the Israeli occupation would “undermine the ability of next president to lead the effort to negotiate an end to conflict” by restricting his or her ability to maneuver in a negotiation.

Another amendment called for working to rebuild the Gaza Strip following the destruction caused by Israel’s military operation two years ago.

The platform committee voted down all amendments relating to Israel and the Palestinian issue, triggering an angered response from some delegates and members of the audience. One shouted out that Democrats “are in bed with AIPAC,” referring to the powerful pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The platform committee also rejected an amendment that sought to soften the language regarding Iran by striking out the assertion that America “will not hesitate to take military action,” if Iran violates the nuclear agreement signed next year.

“Send my children to college, not to war,” said Sanders supporter Christine Kramer from Nevada in backing the amendment.

The full committee meeting held on Friday and Saturday in Orlando was the last chance to insert changes into the Democratic platform before the party’s convention which will be held later this month in Philadelphia. While Sanders supporters succeeded in tilting the platform further to the progressive end on several domestic and economic issues, the language on foreign policy and specifically on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict largely reflects the views of Clinton and her supporters.

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com or on Twitter @nathanguttman

Author

Nathan Guttman

Nathan Guttman

Nathan Guttman staff writer, is the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Ha’aretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Contact Nathan at guttman@forward.com, or follow him on Twitter @nathanguttman

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Bernie Sanders Backers Fail To Insert Criticism of Israel in Democratic Platform

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