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The Democratic Mask Slips on Israel

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Were you shocked when at least 50 percent of the delegates to the Democratic Convention appeared to vote "nay" on recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and reinserting God into the platform? Admittedly, it was high drama -- a truly unscripted moment that laid bare the raw hostility toward Israel that has gradually achieved mainstream status within the Democratic Party. But a surprise? Not really.

A Gallup poll released earlier this year showed that 78 percent of Republicans supported Israel over the Palestinians, whereas only 53 percent of Democrats agreed. For the past 12 years, Democratic support for Israel has been declining, Gallup reports. The left, which is increasingly coterminous with the Democrats, has been hostile to Israel for much longer. Seen an Occupy demonstration lately? Noticed "Israel Apartheid Week" at your local campus?

The Democrats, as Shmuel Rosner chronicles in The Jewish Journal, are zealously spinning this little debacle -- at first claiming that the platform wording change from 2008 was insignificant and charging, through Sen. Dick Durbin, that questions about it were a conservative plot. Former Congressman Robert Wexler, a Florida Democrat who runs interference for Obama with Jewish voters, asserted that the platform reflected Obama's "unflinching" commitment to Israel.

It took only about 12 hours for that line to shrivel. When the vote was scheduled to revise the platform, the Obama campaign circulated a new spin --namely that restoring God and Jerusalem was all Obama's idea and that he was befuddled as to how the platform had ever acquired the offensive wording in the first place. David Axelrod cited unnamed "others" on Thursday morning for the screw up, insisting that the president was too busy with other things to notice. But Politico reported that Obama had seen and signed off on the platform before the convention.

To suggest that this was a mere snafu insults the intelligence of Americans. This president has profoundly altered the U.S. position toward Israel. He insulted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, adopted the Palestinian position on negotiations (that all settlement activity should cease before talks could resume), condemned Israel from the U.N. podium and suggested that Israel return to the 1967 borders ("with land swaps") before the Palestinians had even agreed to negotiate, far less renounced terror or adopted democratic norms. To the contrary, the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Hamas are drawing closer.

President Obama was famously outraged at Netanyahu for building Jewish apartments in Israel's capital -- a capital that neither the State Department nor the White House spokesman would identify as Jerusalem -- and yet, he has never publicly chastised Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas for refusing to recognize Israel as a "Jewish state."

What remains in the Democratic platform is just as disturbing as what was revised.

In 2008, the platform proclaimed:

"The United States ... should continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel's right to exist, and abides by past agreements ... The creation of a Palestinian state through final status negotiations, together with an international compensation mechanism, should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel."

Any proposed "settlement" of the Palestinian question that permits Palestinians to exercise a claimed "right of return" to settle in Israel represents an existential threat, as Israel could be swamped by Arab immigrants, adding to the one-fifth of Israel's population that is already Arab.

But the 2012 platform, after the usual bromides about U.S./Israeli friendship, reads, "A just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian accord, producing two states for two peoples, would contribute to regional stability and help sustain Israel's identity as a Jewish and democratic state."

The reference to isolating Hamas is gone. The rejection of a "right of return" to Israel for Palestinians is gone. Instead, we see code words about Israel sustaining its character as a "Jewish and democratic state." This is the language of Israel's critics, who warn darkly that Israel cannot continue to rule over the West Bank and maintain its democratic bona fides. But Israel has no desire to rule the West Bank, as it has amply demonstrated (it evacuated Gaza and has granted near total autonomy to the Palestinians in the West Bank). Only the threat of violence and terror keeps a single Israeli soldier on the West Bank.

The platform manages to patronize the Jewish state about maintaining its soul, while minimizing the belligerence of its enemies and the threats to its existence. The embarrassing floor spectacle merely underlined the obvious coolness that a majority of Democrats -- very much including the incumbent president -- feel toward Israel, their fulsome denials notwithstanding.

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