Daily Israel Report

Democratic Platform Change Ordered by Obama Himself

Obama ordered his party to reinsert recognition of Jerusalem to the party platform, but they were not too pleased with the idea.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 9/6/2012, 5:14 AM

U.S. President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama
Flash 90

President Barack Obama was the one who on Wednesday ordered his Democratic party to reinsert references to G-d and Jerusalem in their party platform, AFP reported.

The report hinted that the move was not too pleasing to party members.

A campaign official told AFP that the president, who has been hammered by Republicans who see him as too tough on Israel, personally intervened to have language on Jerusalem, a feature of past party platforms, restored.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Obama had also questioned why the party ever dispensed with language in the 2008 platform referring to America's "G-d-given" potential.

According to the report the Democrats began the second day of their nominating jamboree amending the platform they had adopted just 24 hours earlier.

Sensing the move may rile influential religious and Jewish voters, convention manager and Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, asked for approval of a revised document.

Proposing the motion, former Ohio governor Ted Strickland said "faith and belief in G-d is central to the American story" and "President Obama recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and our party's platform should as well."

However, AFP reported, when a voice vote was called the "nays" appeared to match the "ayes."

An obviously flustered Villaraigosa then said, “I -- I -- I guess, I'll do that one more time.”

The report also noted that the second attempt led to a similar response, but Villaraigosa nevertheless declared, "In the opinion of that chair, two-thirds have voted in the affirmative. The motion is adopted, and the platform has been amended."

His announcement sparked a chorus of boos from the floor.

The Democratic Party platform that was released on Monday simply stated that “President Obama and the Democratic Party maintain an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.”

The three-paragraph section entitled “The Middle East” detailed the Obama administration’s support for Israel, including boosting security assistance, but said nothing about Jerusalem.

In contrast, in 2008 the Democratic Party’s platform said, “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

The platform was criticized by Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who said, “It is unfortunate that the entire Democratic Party has embraced President Obama’s shameful refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.”

He added, “Four years of President Obama’s repeated attempts to create distance between the United States and our cherished ally have led the Democratic Party to remove from their platform an unequivocal acknowledgment of a simple reality. As president, I will restore our relationship with Israel and stand shoulder to shoulder with our close ally.”

During a visit to Israel in July, Romney stated that it was "a moving experience to be in Jerusalem -- the capital of Israel," eliciting extended and excited applause from the audience.

During his election campaign in 2008, Obama himself reassured Jewish constituents that Jerusalem will remain the “undivided” capital of Israel. His stance since then has significantly changed.

“Let me be clear, Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable,” Obama said at the time. “The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive and that allows them to prosper. But any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”

Obama soon retracted his remarks, saying that the word undivided “was poorly chosen.”