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AIPAC and the Undemocratic Convention

We rarely get to see what we saw the other night at the Democratic National Convention. The party platform had been revised from previous years to remove an endorsement of an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I haven’t seen an explanation of how that could have happened.

AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the leading organization of the pro-Israel Lobby) must have let down its guard, thinking all was safe and sound in the platform committee. Then it dawned on everyone that this bipartisan concession to Israel and the Lobby was nowhere to be seen in the party’s official statement of principles.

Oh horror! Something had to be done.

And something was done–something not exactly kosher.

An amendment to reinsert the Jerusalem language was proposed, requiring a two-thirds’ vote of the delegates on the floor. Convention chairman (and LA mayor) Antonio Villaraigosa called for a voice vote. It sounded even–there certainly were not two-thirds for the change. Villaraigosa said: “In the opinion of the–let me do that again.” He clearly looked embarrassed.

But the second voice vote had the same outcome! “I, um, I guess–” Villaraigosa stammered. At which point a woman official walked over to him and said, “You gotta let them do what they’re gonna do.”

So Villaraigosa said, “I’ll do that one more time.” If anything, the no’s outnumbered the yeas this time. Nevertheless, Villaraigosa declared, “In the opinion of the chair, two-thirds voted in the affirmative. The motion is adopted, and the platform has been amended….”

The final image on this sorry episode was of two angry and disappointed Arab-American delegates.

The mainstream media–MSNBC and Fox included–clearly did not want to talk about this. Whenever someone tried to discuss the trashing of the sacred democratic principle at the behest of the Lobby, someone else jumped in to change the subject.  (See a roundup of comments at Mondonweiss.)

The 1947 UN partition of Palestine declared Jerusalem Corpus separatum, that is, a separated body–a shared, international city because of its importance to Muslims and Jews. It was divided during the 1948 war, during which the new state of Israel colluded with Transjordan (now Jordan) to deprive the Palestinians of their portion of partitioned Palestine.

In the 1967 war Israel conquered east Jerusalem along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip (also the Sinai and the Golan Heights). Israel proceeded to annex east Jerusalem, expel Palestinians residents, and build Jewish-only settlements.

Under international law the annexation of land obtained through conquest is illegal. Israel’s annexation of east Jerusalem is regarded as outlawry by most of the world and has been condemned as such by the United Nations. UN Security Council Resolution 478 (Aug. 20, 1980) called on “Those States that have established diplomatic missions at Jerusalem to withdraw such missions from the Holy City.”

Sheldon Richman runs the Free Association blog.

Sheldon Richman, author of Coming to Palestine, keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.  He is also the Executive Editor of The Libertarian Institute.

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