Skip To Content

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 [email protected] or on Twitter @nathanguttman

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.