God Bless You, Barbara Herz

The Arab-American Institute “disappointed” by the change. Update below.

As Peter reported, the Democrats inexplicably caved to heat applied by Republicans over the omission of language about God and Jerusalem in the party’s platform.

Zeke Miller of BuzzFeed adds some more detail from Charlotte:

Several delegates told BuzzFeed they were dismayed by the chaos, and some objectors said they voted “no” because Villaraigosa had not explained the move. Other said they believed the vote reflected hostility to Israel among the delegates.

* * * * 

One dissenter, who said she hadn’t made it in to voice her “no,” said she opposed the inclusion of God.

“I think the best thing we could do is separate religion and politics,” said Barbara Herz, of Wyoming. “We should let every person make their own religious decisions and keep it out of the platform.”

Even if it’s the case that delegates were booing over the process, rather than the substance, Republicans will make it more about Jerusalem, and, as Mitt Romney absurdly accused in his acceptance speech last week, that President Obama has “thrown Israel under the bus.” But, as Daniel Seidemann noted at The Daily Beast before the chaos late this afternoon:

The [Democrats’] 2008 platform stated: “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.” In the newly approved 2012 document, there is no mention of Jerusalem, stating that Obama and the Democratic Party “maintain an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security,” and, “It is precisely because of this commitment that President Obama and the Democratic Party seek peace between Israelis and Palestinians… A just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian accord, producing two states for two peoples, would contribute to regional stability and help sustain Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Under saner circumstances, this would be an almost perfunctory rephrasing of the U.S. commitment to Israel in a way that does not fly in the face of longstanding U.S. policy. Instead, it’s perhaps predictably being used by opponents to mobilize political backlash of Biblical proportions—as some might believe befits an issue that in Israeli and American political circles (and among both Republicans and Democrats) has for years been dealt with not as sober, responsible policy-making, but as a heavy-handed manipulation of domestic passion, real or imagined.

Democrats should have stuck to their guns. Because heavy-handed manipulation of domestic passion is the Republicans’ forte. 

UPDATE: The Arab-American Institute has criticized the language change on Jerusalem. From its statement:

The 2012 language was clearly an attempt to bring rhetoric in line with reality—the generally acknowledged fact accepted by all sides of the conflict that the final status of Jerusalem is an issue that needs to be determined in negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians themselves.

Today’s amendment to re-insert the language on Jerusalem was a clear case of putting pandering above responsible politics. Not only is this change a knee-jerk reaction to baseless accusations from the far-right that the Democratic Party has “thrown Israel under the bus,” it also flies in the face of decades of policy and the positions of President Obama, international peacemakers, and the American public at-large. Worse still, the vote was clearly forced through the delegation, despite considerable opposition on the floor.

AAI is disappointed by the inclusion of the amendment, but is also proud of the many delegates—including a record breaking 55 Arab Americans represented this year at the convention—for voting against the amendment, supporting the president and fighting for progress in achieving a lasting peace for Israel and Palestine. AAI President Jim Zogby stated, “Having been through these battles many times, I am disappointed in the irregularities of the procedure. This effort hurts the president and it hurts chances for a lasting peace. I am, however, proud that so many delegates delivered a resounding no.”

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email