[Marxism] Democrats repeatedly have pointed to Bush's support for Saudi Arabia as a weak point

DHE cuibono at rcip.com
Fri Jul 16 11:55:01 MDT 2004

Democrats endorse some key pro- Israel positions in their platform

By Matthew E. Berger

Jewish Telegraphic Agency
15 July 2004


The Democratic Party wants to send the right message to the
American Jewish community about its priorities in the Middle East,
but its platform fails to include several positions Jewish groups

The platform, finalized this weekend in Miami, resolves to uphold
the close relationship between the United States and Israel. It
also negates a Palestinian refugee "right of return" to Israel and
says the armistice line ending Israel's 1948 War of Independence -
known as the Green Line - cannot be the basis for negotiations
between Israel and the Palestinians, implicitly recognizing some
Israeli claims to the West Bank.

"It is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status
negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice
line of 1949," the draft reads.

Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), who drafted the language, expressed
delight that her proposal was adopted "word for word."

"It's perfect," she told JTA.

However, the platform ignores calls from several Jewish
organizations to explicitly endorse the "road map" plan for
Israeli-Palestinian peace, support Israel's plan to withdraw from
the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank and justify Israel's West
Bank security fence.

"A party platform is not supposed to specifically negate or
support every item of a country's agenda at the moment," said Rep.
Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), who helped write the Middle East section
of the platform. "The language that is contained in the platform
is entirely consistent and supportive of the 'road map.'"

The American Jewish vote is being watched closely in this year's
presidential election, largely because of President Bush's support
for Israel and Jewish approval of the policy positions Bush has
laid out in the Middle East.

The platform could be an opportunity for Democrats to solidify
their traditional base of American Jewish support with policy
positions that match Bush administration support for Israel.

The passages define Democratic Party policy for the next four
years. The draft platform as a whole now goes for an up or down
vote at the convention later this month; no one expects it to be

The American Jewish Committee and Anti-Defamation League laid out
policy recommendations for both political parties last month that
included support for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's
disengagement plan.

No word is expected on the Republican platform until next month -
the Republican convention isn't until the end of August, a month
after the Democratic one - but Bush already has endorsed Sharon's

The American Jewish Committee also advised the platform committees
to endorse the road map that the United States crafted with the
United Nations, European Union and Russia, and to express support
for Israel's right to construct its security fence. The fence has
drawn fire because it juts beyond the Green Line in some areas
into land the Palestinians want for a future state.

One drafter suggested that references to the "road map" were
avoided in the Democratic platform because the Democrats were not
interested in endorsing a plan shaped by President Bush and touted
by Republicans as more effective than President Clinton's earlier
efforts. Instead, the draft platform forsakes such details for
more general themes.

"We will ensure that under all circumstances, Israel retains the
qualitative edge for its national security and the right to self
defense," the draft reads.

The current platform reinforces aspects of the 2000 Democratic
Party platform. It also reiterates Democratic support for
Jerusalem as Israel's capital and a commitment to end the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Democrats say a fuller exposition of their views on Israel may be
found in statements that the campaign of Sen. John Kerry
(D-Mass.), the presumptive nominee for president, put out late
last month to Jewish supporters.

That document highlights positions Kerry has outlined in Congress
and on the campaign trail, such as support for the Gaza withdrawal
plan and the security fence. It also lays out Kerry's guiding
principles for Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which
include not forcing Israel to make concessions that compromise
security, requiring a credible Palestinian partner for peace
talks, and increasing funding and coordination for Israel's fight
against terrorism.

The final draft excoriates the Bush administration, saying its
policies "have failed to take effective steps to stop the North
Korean and Iranian nuclear programs." Democrats repeatedly have
pointed to Bush's support for Saudi Arabia as a weak point in the
administration's Middle East policy.

Bush appeared to be showing sensitivity to the Saudi linkage,
vigorously defending the kingdom's record in a speech Monday.

"Saudi Arabia is working hard to shut down the facilitators and
financial supporters of terrorism," Bush said in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
"The government has captured or killed many first-tier leaders of
the Al-Qaeda organization in Saudi Arabia, including one last
week. Today, because Saudi Arabia has seen the danger and has
joined the war on terror, the American people are safer."

Domestically, the Jewish groups asked for an expansion of hate
crimes legislation and support for a bill that would expand
religious freedom rights for employees on the job. They also
reiterated opposition to vouchers that could be used by students
in private or parochial schools, and to faith-based initiatives,
the federal funding of religious social services programming.

But Jewish Democrats said they have focused less on the platform's
domestic policy aspects, confident they would meet the approval of
most Jewish voters.

"The only area we have to compete with the Republicans is with
U.S.-Israel relations," Forman said. "I've never felt so good
about our ability to do so as we do today.''
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