What Does The Post-Obama Democratic Party Think About Israel?

Since Bernie Sanders put Cornel West and James Zogby on the Democratic party’s platform nominating committee, BDS supporters have exulted in the inroads they think they are making into the Democratic party. West and Zogby, however, failed to get their anti-Israel, antisemitic positions actually included in the platform. Now, one of the emails leaked by Wikileaks from the DNC hack shows that the BDS agenda is still just fringe, even in the Democratic party.

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Cornel West speaking at a Sanders rally

Ben Norton at Salon can barely conceal his disappointment:

In one of the messages, from May 19, DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda sent Wasserman Schultz a link to the Washington Post article “DNC to offer Sanders a convention concession.” The piece revealed that the Sanders campaign was going to push the party to adopt “a more balanced position regarding Israel and Palestinians.”

The Post report noted that Sanders’ push for a more “even-handed” stance on the illegal Israeli occupation “has made some of Clinton’s backers nervous.”

“The Israel stuff is disturbing,” Wasserman Schultz wrote in response to the article. The DNC chair is a longtime Clinton ally, and served as co-chair for Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Miranda replied noting Hillary for America, the Clinton campaign, “specifically pushed that part of it.” He said this seems to be the case based on what the Post reporter told DNC Press Secretary Mark Paustenbach, who was also cc’ed in the message.

Wasserman Schultz asked a question of clarification. Miranda explained: “The Israel plank… they see it as an ideal issue to marginalize Bernie on.”

Tim Kaine with Peres

Senator Kaine with President Peres

If the Clinton campaign sees Sanders’s positions on Israel as an “issue to marginalize Bernie,” then clearly, at least in Clinton’s view, his positions do not have widespread appeal even within the Democratic party. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose interest is primarily in protecting the party as a whole, responded that Clinton’s highlighting these issues is “not helpful in a story like this.”

But it’s not all roses over at the Democratic party. Clinton’s VP pick, Tim Kaine, has strong J Street connections. When Clinton tweeted her announcement about Kaine just a few minutes after Shabbat started on the East Coast, J Street was one of the first to publicly congratulate him. They have also fundraised for him in the past. As Breitbart has pointed out, he was one those Democratic Senators who boycotted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress last March. In a Jerusalem Post article, Kaine is described as one of the “key whips” on the Senate floor for the Iran deal.

Those who still don’t understand why J Street and its ideology are so problematic should read this excellent op-ed by David Brog in the New York Jewish Week,

J Street’s leaders may believe that they are acting in Israel’s best interests. But in practice, J Street does more than any other organization to promote the very narrative that’s fueling both BDS and progressive disillusionment with Israel.

The central myth behind BDS success is not that Israel is an apartheid state or ethnic cleanser. Such outlandish claims influence few beyond the radical fringe that wants to believe them. No, the most dangerous myth is that Israel has a choice between “occupation” and peace. In the fantasy world of J Street, Peace Now and their allies, Israel has the power to end its conflict with the Palestinians by simply exiting the West Bank. Since Israel chooses to stay in the West Bank, then Israel is responsible for prolonging the conflict.

As a senator, Israel was likely not a central concern to Kaine and it’s possible he’s just gone along with J Street due to its increasing popularity among Democrats as a smokescreen for anti-Israel positions. Hopefully he can still be educated.



A Zionist in exile, Mirabelle has, in past lives, been a lawyer, a skier, and a chef. Outside of Israel, her favorite place in the world is Sun Valley, Idaho.

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