Sat. May 18th, 2024

Progressives are gearing up for a platform fight on Israel at the Democratic convention

By 37ci3 Apr11,2024

WASHINGTON – Activists at odds with President Joe Biden over his handling of Israel’s war with Hamas plan to shift focus further. From the ballot box to the platform of the Democratic Party at this summer’s convention for candidates in Chicago, their pressure campaign.

According to numerous activists and party insiders, the Biden campaign is anticipating an effort that could extend a bruising and divisive political battle to the Democratic National Convention in the coming months.

Progressive Democrats have already outlined a list of issues they hope to influence the party platform, including a call for filibuster reform in the Senate, declaring a national climate emergency and ending private election financing. But the war in Gaza and the potential terms of future US military aid to Israel will be the most contentious as Democrats prepare for the convention this August.

“We’re gearing up for a fight and we’re drawing a line in the sand, but we’re hoping it doesn’t turn out like this,” said Joseph Geevarghese, executive director of Our Revolution, who is leaving the Vermont Senate. Bernie Sanders’ first presidential campaign.

“We will make as many agreements as possible in advance to avoid full-scale fighting,” Geevarghese said. “If we have to fight on important issues, we will do it.”

The Democratic National Committee has not yet publicly announced the process for developing its 2024 platform. A DNC spokeswoman said the party “will attract diverse voices from across the Democratic coalition.”

“The Democratic Party’s platform will reflect President Biden’s vision of how we can move our nation forward,” Hannah Muldavin told NBC News, referring to domestic challenges, “advancing safety and security at home and abroad.”

Biden’s view on how to approach Israel’s war with Hamas differs sharply from a growing number of Democrats, including some of the president’s closest allies in Congress. Progressive activists want language in the platform that would tie future US military aid to a ceasefire in Gaza.

Biden has so far resisted halting military aid to Israel or imposing conditions on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to change course. The president has called for a cease-fire in Gaza, but only as part of an agreement to release hostages held by Hamas. Activists in his party called for a ceasefire even without releasing the hostages.

The split could create a clash at the Democratic convention the likes of which the party has not seen in decades, according to Geevarghese, who noted that Chicago was the site of the infamous 1968 Democratic convention, when left-wing anti-war protesters clashed with police.

“It’s in the best interest of the re-election campaign to minimize outside opposition, and the only way to do that is through meaningful policy changes,” he said.

So far, the loosely organized coalition of progressive Democrats has largely aimed to express their opposition to the president’s Israel policies by pressuring Democratic primary voters to support “non-aligned” or other similar electoral options domestically.

These progressives initially sA confrontation in Michigan in Februaryy primary, received over 100.00 votes for “not threatened” or about 13.2% of the vote. It was enough to win a pair of congress representatives to their movement. A similar protest vote in the Democratic primaries was enough to pick up lopsided delegates in Minnesota, Hawaii, Washington state and Missouri.

NBC News projects there will be at least 26 unpledged delegates at the convention so far, along with three representing Jason Palmer, a relatively unknown candidate who won the primary in American Samoa. Those are a fraction of the more than 3,300 delegates Biden has won so far, but it means the platform battle over Israel will be an uphill, two-step battle.

For example, activists are not even guaranteed a seat at the table. As soon as the platform is written, positions on the DNC’s standing committees will be appointed, and the process will be entirely managed by Biden’s team.

“The fix is ​​in place,” said former DNC member, Arab-American community leader and former Sanders strategist Jim Zogby. “All Platform Committee people will be selected by the campaign and the White House.”

Zogby, who has led previous minor skirmishes over language in Israel on the platform, doesn’t expect activists to do much this year. Sanders had enough delegates to force a showdown in 2016, and Zogby doubts the Unfiled movement will hang on to the few delegate seats they won.

But others on the left are more hopeful, and think they can influence the platform by applying pressure from the outside, if not the inside, to force the Biden team to avoid a public fight.

As the war situation in Gaza develops, so can any potential platform battle. Biden is currently trying to broker a weeks-long truce in exchange for the release of hostages, which his administration hopes will lead to a permanent end to the war.

But as the president struggles to reach such a deal, pressure has grown beyond his activist base within his party. A few months ago, Sanders was the lone voice in the Senate calling on the administration to stop sending assault weapons to Israel in what he called an “illegal, immoral war against the Palestinian people.” In a private meeting at the White House in late February, he pressed some of Biden’s top advisers, including National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, to take new steps to get humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Now, a growing chorus of congressional Democrats, including close allies of the president, including Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., have said they are open to suspending further military aid if Rafah goes ahead with a major ground offensive.

Party platforms are often a mechanism for party officials to confront differences between the presidential candidate — or, in this case, the incumbent — and party activists.

In 2012, DNC members discussed taking steps to include language endorsing same-sex marriage before President Obama publicly took that position, though he did so well before the convention. In 2016, Sanders used his significant delegate tranche to pressure Hillary Clinton on a wide range of progressive policy priorities, from climate change to student debt to international trade agreements. is the most progressive platform in the history of parties.

Sanders’ forces have had the most significant impact on party rules, particularly in reforms that largely disempowered so-called superdelegates. Defense of those reforms will be the main issue for his allies this year.

The biggest revision to the Democrats’ 2020 platform language from 2016 was to reflect former President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In 2020, the final paragraphs of the 2020 Democratic platform on Israel reiterated the party’s belief that “a strong, secure, and democratic Israel is vital to the interests of the United States.” He declared that the party’s “commitment to Israel’s security, its qualitative military advantage, [and] the right to self-defense” is “iron-clad,” while also calling for a “negotiated two-state solution that secures Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state with recognized borders and upholds the right of Palestinians to live in livable conditions of freedom and security. are their own states”.

In 2020, Biden’s team took the platform fight to heart by creating a so-called Unity Task Force composed of both Biden and Sanders surrogates, which drafted draft language for a party platform signed by both camps. Those recommendations ultimately telegraphed a more robust, progressive policy agenda that went beyond what Biden proposed in his primary campaign.

A source close to the White House said the 2020 platform process was designed to reflect Biden’s desire to bring the party together after a contentious primary. Now Biden has won the nomination by a landslide, and the source noted that it is typical for the party platform to reflect the current president’s agenda.

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By 37ci3

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