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“Religious Symbolism”: Republicans’ Holy War On The DNC Platform

Republican and conservative complaints about the Democratic platform have crystallized in the last two days. The two main themes are pure questions of religious symbolism. If this election is about the economy, as Republicans constantly assert that it is, then their attacks on the DNC are way off topic.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Emergency Committee for Israel blasted out an article from the Free Beacon, a conservative website, complaining about the Democratic platform. ECI called it, “another shift by the Obama administration away from Israel and toward the Palestinians.” It is not entirely fair to call the language in the DNC platform an act of the Obama administration. The Republican Party platform, for example, calls for banning abortion in all cases, with no exceptions. Mitt Romney, however, is running a platform that would ban abortion except in cases of rape and incest and where the life of the pregnant woman is endangered. But, it’s fair to say there is some association between the party’s platform and its presidential nominee, and that the nominee has some influence over the text of the platform.

So, what is the objectionable portion of the platform? It does not mention Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, nor does it specify that the descendants of Palestinian refugees should be settled in a Palestinian state, not Israel proper, and it also does not condemn Hamas. The 2008 DNC platform did all of these things. Romney issued a statement complaining just about the Jerusalem question. The Romney campaign also sent out statements from its two token Jewish surrogates, Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) and former Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), attacking Obama on all three fronts.

When asked by The Nation for a response, a Democratic National Committee spokesperson wrote in an e-mail:

The Obama Administration has followed the same policy towards Jerusalem that previous U.S. Administrations of both parties have done since 1967. As the White House said several months ago, the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians—which we also said in the 2008 platform. We will continue to work with the parties to resolve this issue as part of a two state solution that secures the future of Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland of the Jewish people.

Meanwhile, the theocratic partisan propagandists at Fox News are decrying the absence of the word “God” from the DNC platform. As Media Matters notes, Fox downplayed the significance of the GOP’s platform, in order to minimize the public’s revulsion at extremist planks such as the one on abortion. But when it came to this non-issue, they couldn’t get enough of it.

Neither of these lines of attack is likely to resonate with swing voters. Rather, they are meant to rev up the evangelical right-wing base, which obsessively pushes religion into the public square and wants to expand Israel’s boundaries to fulfill a supposed biblical prophecy.

The Republican National Convention had two themes—that the GOP would tackle the biggest issues facing the country, and that it would try to expand beyond its base. These petty attacks do neither.

Update: On Wednesday night the DNCreportedly at President Obama’s behestamended its platform to reinstate the language from its 2008 platform regarding Jerusalem. 


By: Ben Adler, The Nation, September 5, 2012

September 6, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Netanyahu Speech To Congress Shows America Will Buy Anything

A blistering piece of commentary by the esteemed (and leftist) Israeli political commentator, Gideon Levy, in Haaretz today is a must read for anyone who cares to see what progressives in Israel think of Netanyahu’s show today before the U.S. Congress.

Levy begins his piece with these loaded, and to my mind, honest salvos concerning Netanyahu’s speech to Congress today:

It was an address with no destination, filled with lies on top of lies and illusions heaped on illusions. Only rarely is a foreign head of state invited to speak before Congress. It’s unlikely that any other has attempted to sell them such a pile of propaganda and prevarication, such hypocrisy and sanctimony as Benjamin Netanyahu did.The fact that the Congress rose to its feet multiple times to applaud him says more about the ignorance of its members than the quality of their guest’s speech. An Israeli presence on the Jordan River – cheering. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel – applause. Did America’s elected representatives know that they were cheering for the death of possibility? If America loved it, we’re in big trouble.

As Levy notes, Congress today applauded some painful statements by the Israeli head of state, and this applause said much about both their ignorance on the true state of affairs in Israel as well as their willingness to remain ignorant about the true state of affairs in Israel for political gain (see: the vote of Christian conservatives and the campaign contributions of the Jewish elite).

Below is a brief look at a few of the standing ovations Netanyahu received by our representatives in Congress, and why such applause should be troubling for us as American progressives:

1. Jerusalem as Israel’s Undivided Capital – by applauding this statement by Netanyahu, our leaders essentially applauded the death of any possible peace agreement, for, as everyone knows, East Jerusalem is the proposed capital for a future Palestinian state in every iteration of negotiations that have been produced since Oslo. And yet, a standing ovation. And it bears noting: with the Arab Spring spreading throughout the West Bank and Gaza, and a declaration of Palestinian statehood on the horizon by the U.N. in September, the death of peace negotiations no longer mean what they once did: the status quo. Instead, such a death will mean major instability with unpredictable outcomes.

2. Israel is not occupying the West Bank – when Netanyahu claimed, with a straight face, that the Jewish people are not occupiers, and that the situation in “Judea and Samaria” is not an occupation, Congress roared to its feet. That the U.S. Congress could rise in boisterous applause to a known lie is chastening – Israeli leaders past, including Ariel Sharon, have admitted the obvious: that Israel is in the difficult and damaging position of occupying another people’s land.

3. Boasting on the Status of Israeli-Arabs – Netanyahu’s government has backed a series of anti-Palestinian, anti-democratic laws recently, the most notable of which forbid citizens from recognizing, in any way, The Nakba (which is the sorrowful observance Palestinians engage in as Israelis celebrate Independence Day). By applauding, our leaders, wittingly or not, gave sanction to a leader and an administration which has done much to strip non-Jewish citizens of their democratic rights.

Netanyahu’s speech today, more than anything, signaled the official death of the peace process, for none of the “terms” presented by Israel’s leader comes close to acceptable for the Palestinians.

And by standing to applaud 29 times, our leaders today gave sanction to that death. Even the White House, this evening, issued a statement saying that Netanyahu’s speech “reaffirmed the strength of U.S.-Israeli relationship.”

Here’s why what happened today matters: America has incredible leverage with regard to Israel, and has always been capable of using that leverage to talk Israel down off the pathological ledge it’s been toeing for so long due to my peoples’ existential fear of annihilation. (For good reason, I should add, but I digress.) The United States gives Israel unprecedented monetary, military and diplomatic support, all of which could easily be drawn down.

But as we saw today, the tail unfortunately wags the dog. And this wagging may end up being disastrous not only for Israel, but for American interests in the region as well, for a Netanyahu-applauded vision of Israel-Palestine is nothing more than a recipe for confrontation, for instability like we’ve never seen.

The Arab Spring has changed dynamics such that there is no going back. If Netanyahu, and America, stay on the course articulated today, this is where we may be headed:

1. A Palestinian declaration of statehood by the U.N. in September
2. Israeli & American rejection, with possible annexation of lands
3. A conflict that will not end well.

May my analysis be wrong. I hope such is the case. I fear such a case is becoming increasingly unrealistic.

By: The Troubadour, The Daily Kos, May 24, 2011

May 24, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Democracy, Foreign Governments, Foreign Policy, GOP, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Middle East, Politics, Republicans | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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