Shenanigans in Charlotte

Israel lobby vs. democracy at the DNC

by , September 07, 2012

If you thought the Republican national convention was the worst display of narrow-minded chauvinism, belligerent nationalism, and fanatical Israel First-ism, then you didn’t imagine what the Democrats were going to be like. The attacks on Romney for his lack of “economic patriotism” limn the Bush years, albeit in blue. The requisite anti-Chinese rhetoric was on full display: Beijing is the new Soviet Union for both the unions and the neocons. Speaking of neocons: if anyone doubted the stranglehold the Israel lobby has on American politics, then the shenanigans in Charlotte should settle that once and for all.

It’s almost a joke — I say almost because the most vital issues of war and peace are at stake. Through some oversight, the Dems forgot to mention in their platform Jerusalem’s alleged status as the capital of Israel — and, heaven forfend, there was no ritual condemnation of Hamas that mentioned the group by name. The Republicans pounced — and the Democrats were quick to respond — not with any kind of defense, but with an instant capitulation.

Call re-write! The party scribes got busy, and the “mistake” was fixed faster than you can say “Haim Saban” — but there was the troublesome question of submitting it to the delegates. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, chairing the platform committee, submitted the new plank to the delegates — who promptly voted it down in a voice vote. With ayes and nays about even, the amendment fell short of the two-thirds required for passage, but that didn’t phase machine politician and party hack Villaraigosa, who called for another vote — with the same results. Undeterred, he called for a third vote — and although the results were clearly with the nays, Villaraigosa ruled the plank had passed.

This was met with a loud chorus of boos.

The parallelism with the GOP committee vote on their rules change — which will put the kibosh on future Ron Paul-like insurgent candidacies — is all too telling. And what it tells us is this: the two state-privileged, state-subsidized “major” parties are private clubs, under the complete control of party bosses and unresponsive to the will even of their own activists. That Villaraigosa would pull something like this on national television is indicative of the deep contempt our political class has for ordinary Americans.

Even more telling is the way the Democrats tried to put a casual face on their panic: the President let it be known that Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital is his personal opinion, in spite of what the draft platform language said. Democratic officials said AIPAC was in the room when the platform was drafted, and registered no objection. AIPAC’s Patrick Dorton (kinda) denies this:

“Any assertion that AIPAC had prior knowledge of the deletion of language including on Jerusalem, Israel as the most reliable ally, Hamas, or the refugees is categorically false. AIPAC was never provided with a final copy of the Middle East part of the platform. Jerusalem as the capital was part of AIPAC’s written submission to the platform but we did not see, review, or sign off on the final text.”

You’ll note he doesn’t flat out deny AIPAC representatives were in the room, and it’s hard to imagine they weren’t: or were they so confident of their power to that they didn’t bother attending?

How Bibi Netanyahu must be chortling at the sight of a subservience so craven it has lost sight of the very concept of shame. Has a foreign entity ever exercised such power over the domestic politics of the American republic? Didn’t our forefathers warn us about this possibility, and the dangers of falling prey to foreign-backed “factions”?

Israel lobby — what Israel lobby? I don’t see an Israel lobby anywhere in sight. Do you?

Those delegates who booed are heroes (and heroines!) — but what are they going to do besides make rude noises? Prediction: nothing. Not that they really could, even if they wanted to: they would simply be ruled out of order, and summarily dealt with by security if they started insisting the party live up to its name. I can hear the Fox News talking heads now, denouncing the violent outbreak of “anti-Semitism” in Charlotte. “Pro-Hamas Dem Delegates Riot” — it’s a headline itching to be written.

The Democrats like to present themselves as the party of multi-cultural America, but when their Arab-American Michigan delegates rise to protest the farce, they are ignored: imagine the Black Caucus being run over in this peremptory manner.

Every once in a while, the scripted narrative of “American democracy” is interrupted and the ugly reality shows through the Potemkin village façade. The Villaraigosa incident reveals the utter emptiness of American political discourse on so many levels it would take volumes to elaborate the gruesome details. Suffice to say here that virtually every major party presidential candidate since the Reagan years has promised the Lobby they’d move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Once in the White House, however, the responsibilities of office trumped the need to placate the Lobby — because to actually move the embassy would permanently torpedo the ongoing peace process and fatally undermine Washington’s role as regional broker.

The US embassy is in Tel Aviv, and there it will remain, no matter what the Democratic or Republican party platforms say, or what the candidates say, for that matter. The whole “issue” is just a hollow piñata, containing only hot air. It is, in other words, just another way for the Lobby to crack the whip. The howls of pain, the backtracking and denials, are music to their ears. As the Israel Firsters gear up for the final push for war with Iran, it’s reassuring to discover the President of the United States and his party are scared to death of them. Who will fight, and who will flee? It’s good to know in advance.

If, as the Huffington Post reports, AIPAC officials did indeed get to preview the final platform text and “loved it,” this raises an interesting question: did AIPAC deliberately sandbag the White House, and if so — why? The answer to the latter question should be fairly obvious: with Netanyahu openly rooting for Romney, is there any doubt as to where the Lobby got its marching orders?

Huffpost cites a Democratic aide close to the drafting process:

The Dems took out all the mentions of final status issues because it’s silly to get into these in a party platform,” the aide said. “It doesn’t change the position of the Obama administration. But we replaced it with ridiculously pro-Israel language. You read the platform and it’s like AIPAC wrote it. And now Republicans are saying it’s anti-Israel? Seriously?”

Ridiculously pro-Israel language, indeed. The cynicism is simply breathtaking. The authors of the Democratic platform knew they were writing a parody, and one has to admit they did a good job of it.

Read more by Justin Raimondo