An effort to inject language criticizing Israel for “occupation and illegal settlements” in the Democratic Party platform was defeated by Hillary Clinton supporters Saturday as a panel charged with drafting language for the high-stakes statement convened for a likely final time in Orlando, Florida.
The attempt was one of two amendments seeking to re-frame the party’s language regarding Israel, both of which were fended off by supporters of the presumptive nominee when the party held what was expected to be the final day of voting on the party’s platform Saturday.
Meeting in the ballroom of an Orlando hotel, supporters of Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders faced off on a wide variety of issues including international trade partnerships, the minimum wage, health care, and the environment.
The draft version platform, which won praise from J Street and the Anti-Defamation League in recent weeks, called for a two-state solution that would grant a homeland to Palestinians, for the first time framing the issue in terms of Palestinian national aspirations as well as Israeli security needs.
Philosopher Cornel West (R) embraces Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at a watch party for the second Democratic presidential debate November 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Alex Wong/Getty Images via JTA)
Yet a group of activists led by committee members appointed by Bernie Sanders, including activist and academic Cornel West and Arab American Institute President James Zogby, demanded tougher language on Israel than that contained in the platform’s draft text, including a call for “an end to occupation and illegal settlements.”
Arguing that the language would help the US be a “credible peace broker,” uncommitted delegate Maya Berry proposed the amendment which would add the phrase to an already extant sentence, changing the platform plank to read that “we will continue to work towards a two-state solution to the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, to recognize borders that provide the Palestinians with and end to occupation and illegal settlements so they may live in independent sovereignty and dignity.”
West described the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as “an issue of our time.”
“It has spiritual and moral implications, not just about politics or the next election,” he said. “For the younger generation, it is more and more becoming what Vietnam was for the 1960s and what South Africa was for the 1980s. We must never tolerate one iota of anti-Jewish hatred, and never one iota of anti-Palestinian or anti-Arab or anti-Muslim hatred. Can we walk that line?”
“Democratic Party, you have been in denial for too long. Palestinians ought to be free,” he exclaimed.