When the gavel closes out this year’s Democratic National Convention, with just over 100 days remaining until November 8’s general election, the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will come at one another like two prize fighters throwing punches at the sound of the bell.
Clinton, the first woman nominated to be her party’s standard bearer, will enter the campaign battleground fresh off of her convention. Trump, during the days of the DNC, worked hard to disseminate his own message, zeroing in on his opponent’s record of obscuring the truth.
Many issues will be discussed for sure. But let’s get right to the issue that gives us pause as the campaigns pick up steam. Yes, Democratic socialist candidate Bernie Sanders called for unity among DNC delegates as he endorsed Clinton.
But unity? For those of us who see the security of Israel as the issue at these conventions, there was anything but unity and support in Philadelphia these past days. Indeed, a people identifying themselves as “Progressives for Palestine” raised Palestinian flags in the Wells Fargo Center and held signs reading “I support Palestinian human rights.”
On Tuesday, protesters outside of the Democratic convention shouted “long live the intifada” as they burned a flag of Israel.
Before the DNC opened, Hillary Clinton’s delegates and leadership defended Israel while supporting a two-state solution, both parts of the party’s platform. The language of Bernie Sanders’ campaign, which placed anti-Israel voices Cornel West and James Zogby on the platform committee, urged a plank using language that would have referred to Israel as an occupier and called for the U.S. to be more sympathetic to the Palestinians. Not surprisingly, even J-Street agreed with West and Zogby.
J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami was quoted as saying, “The new language breaks with the party’s practice of framing its aim of establishing a Palestinian state solely in terms of Israel’s interests.”
West, meanwhile, pulled his support away from Clinton, opting for the Green Party. He did say, however, that the issue of “occupation” and Israel as a platform plank will be back in the future.
Yet even closer to home, Josh Gottheimer, a candidate for Congress seeking to represent us here in New Jersey’s 5th District, told the Jewish Link (see story page 1) of his early concerns of his own party’s planks influenced by Sanders.
He said he was concerned that any language “that favors the Palestinians over our key strategic ally, Israel, is both inconsistent with our party and country’s long history and future interests in the region and would greatly undermine the equitable path to peace.”
You may, with good reason, disdain at times the behavior of Republican nominee Trump, but the GOP platform on Israel was solid in its support. The language of the plank compared Israel’s vision to that of America’s.
So while we appreciate the “unity” that the Democrats are selling, there is still that issue of Israel. Whether it’s Democrat or Republican, American Jews need to pay attention, to become more actively involved with the officials they send to Capitol Hill. Rest assured that those who would see Israel marginalized, who are almost certainly proponents of BDS, aren’t going to remain politically inactive.
Use that Palestinian flag in the Wells Fargo Center as a “red” flag. Yes, there are 102 days left until Election Day. We have to work with conviction and commitment to make sure that the candidates and their surrogates not be co-opted on any level by Israel’s enemies.
And that should happen way before November 8, and then carry on long afterward.