Liberal Harvard professor finds Democratic platform omissions on Israel ‘deeply troubling’

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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Liberal Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz told The Daily Caller that he finds the 2012 Democratic Party platform’s omissions on Hamas and Palestinian refugees “deeply troubling.”

“I think one shouldn’t give too much weight to platform pronouncements, but in this case, I think the omissions are troubling — particularly the omission about the Palestinian refugee issue and Hamas are, I think, deeply troubling,” he told The Daily Caller, responding to a report in the Washington Free Beacon demonstrating how this year’s Democratic Party platform is not as pro-Israel as in years past.

The Free Beacon report showed how while in 2004 and 2008 the Democratic Party platform called for Palestinian refugees to be settled in a future Palestinian state — and explicitly not in Israel — the 2012 platform makes no mention of the issue. Similarly, the 2012 platform doesn’t explicitly take a stand on dealing with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, yet in 2008 the platform declared: “The United States and its Quartet partners should continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and abides by past agreements.” The platform does, however, “insist that any Palestinian partner must recognize Israel’s right to exist, reject violence, and adhere to existing agreements.”*

On the issue of Jerusalem, this year’s Democratic platform doesn’t take the stand that the city is the capital of Israel, while in past platforms it was explicitly stated.

Dershowitz said he is concerned that this year’s Democratic Party platform will make Israel a partisan issue, something he thinks is not good for the U.S.-Israel relationship.

“My goal is always to keep support for Israel a bi-partisan issue and never make a national election any kind of referendum on Israel,” he said. “I don’t think it is a good thing that the Republican platform seems to be more pro-Israel than the Democratic platform.”

Dershowtiz said that this is not the last the Democratic Party has heard about the platform as he is personally going to get to the bottom of what happened.

“As soon as I hang up with you, I will call people I know in the White House and in the Democratic Party and find out what’s going on,” he said.  “But believe me this is not the last the Democrats will have heard about this issue. They will hear from me on this one.”

Dershowitz says while the platform debate could potentially just be chocked up to “carelessness,” he is afraid that anti-Israel extremists within the Democratic Party are having undue influence.

“It’s not the Democratic base. It’s extremists within the Democratic base who may have more influence than they should on platform,” he said. “I think extremists within the base may very well move the Democratic party away from its pro-Israel position.”

Noah Pollak, executive director of the conservative-leaning Emergency Committee for Israel, was less reticent than Dershowitz to tie the platform omissions to President Obama, suggesting that the changes are directly in-line with how the president has treated Israel while in office.

“Before this platform, the Obama administration had taken the Palestinians’ side on Jerusalem (not Israel’s capital), borders (negotiations should start at the 1949 armistice lines), and settlements (they should be frozen),” he emailed The Daily Caller.

“Now it appears Obama is taking the Palestinian side on a fourth issue — refugees. It’s shocking that the administration would open up this controversy, as if flooding Israel with millions of bogus Arab ‘refugees’ and destroying the Jewish State demographically is up for discussion.”

*This section has been updated to reflect that while the platform doesn’t explicitly single out Hamas, it does have language that would encompass the group. 

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