If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem, I Have An Amendment

Let's get this straight about the dust-up at the conventions over Jerusalem:  Whatever the two parties say in their platforms about Jerusalem will change nothing regardless who is elected on November 6.  The future status of the city will depend on an agreement negotiated between the Israelis and Palestinians, which could be years away, and when it comes the United States will follow their lead and open embassies in both capitals.

The more immediate repercussions are more mundane and may involve the careers of those pro-Israel lobbyists whose job it is to closely follow the work of the two platform committees and make sure they produce language Israel's supporters can embrace.

Maybe they were too busy with the convention parties to pay enough attention to the political parties.

As Gil Kahn wrote in his New Jersey Jewish News blog, "The Jerusalem flap eventually will go away, but there are heads that should roll at the DNC, on the platform committee, and at AIPAC."

There were interesting omissions in both platforms, but the Republicans were more deft in pouncing on the Democrats and drew little attention to their own lapses.

The Democrats, reportedly under orders from Barack Obama himself, quickly and a bit clumsily, amended their platform to say:

"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."

The Republican platform "envision(s)" Jerusalem as Israel's capital and made some other omissions the pro-Israel groups and the Democrats either missed or decided ignore. JTA's Ron Kampeas caught them and reported:

"As I've noted, Republicans also softened their language on recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, removing the word 'undivided,' and as well as a call to move the embassy to Jerusalem."

The Republican Jewish Coalition is using some of Sheldon Adelson's $6.5 million gift to buy ads attacking Democrats for amending their platform, while conveniently ignoring their own omissions and failure to correct them.

As the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) pointed out, there were some retreats from the 2008 Republican platform, so if RJC could criticize the Democrats for their omissions, the RJC's accusations could be turned on the GOP by changing only one name: the difference in language over the past four years "raises serious questions about (Mitt Romney's) and the party's commitment to Israel."

What does it all mean?  Nothing really.  Both parties and their presidential candidates are committed to a robust U.S.-Israel relationship.  The big difference for Republicans is that Israel their number one issue for appealing for Jewish support because, unlike the Democrats, their domestic and social agenda turns away most Jewish voters.

Aaron David Miller, a veteran U.S. peace envoy, called the whole flap "silly."  Read his essay here.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.