Democrats join GOP by refusing to recognize Israel’s military occupation of Palestinians in the West Bank
by: David Harris-Gershon on July 12th, 2016 | 4 Comments »
On July 9, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Orlando, Florida, the 187-member Democratic Party Platform Committee considered an amendment to the draft platform’s Middle East plank. Submitted by Maya Berry of the Arab American Institute and championed by Cornel West, the amendment sought for the Democratic Party to acknowledge ― finally ― Palestinian suffering and territorial concerns alongside lengthy mention of Israel’s security concerns and traumas. It sought for Democrats to recognize, officially, what every U.S. administration has in recent memory: that a military occupation exists in the West Bank, and that settlements are an impediment to Palestinian sovereignty.
It read (in part):
Palestinians deserve “an end to occupation and illegal settlements so that they may live in independence, sovereignty and dignity.”
As Berry noted during her explanation of the amendment, passing it should neither have been controversial nor contested. For not only has President Obama recognized Israel’s military occupation and Palestinian suffering, so too has Hillary Clinton. Indeed, she wrote this in 2014:
Despite Clinton’s past words and beliefs, Berry knew better than to think consideration of the amendment would be anything but contested. After all, AIPAC had already enlisted black leaders to help Clinton defeat a similar motion when the draft platform was being created. It did so via a letter written by Bakari Sellers and signed by over 60 black leaders – a letter intended to counter West’s support. (See my recent investigative essay exploring this in depth.) It was a letter which also mirrored testimony given on Clinton’s behalf by Robert Wexler, President of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, who argued Democrats should not include mention of the occupation or settlements in the party’s platform.
Indeed, before debate on the amendment even commenced, Governor Dannel Malloy – for the first time while chairing proceedings – acknowledged that things might get heated, and reminded everyone that, should there be a close vote, delegates from U.S. territories would have their votes count proportionally rather than fully.
He knew what he was talking about. After passionate words from West, Clinton delegate Mayor Stephen Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina, who has long been associated with AIPAC, rose to oppose. He argued that adopting the amendment would overturn the hard work of the Drafting Committee, upon which West sits, despite the fact that such is the nature and purpose of amendments.
Although he said little substantively, it didn’t matter. Clinton and AIPAC had won before the debate began, and the amendment failed 95-73. The Democratic Party would deny the occupation through omission, refusing to recognize its existence and the horrific abuses it levies against Palestinians. It would also explicitly oppose Palestinian civil society’s nonviolent movement, Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS), denying a recognition of Palestinian suffering while also denying them nonviolent recourse.Protests and cries immediately erupted. The anger among party progressives was clear as security stepped in.