Dems Slam J Street’s ‘Pro-Trump’ Campaign
Hillary Clinton’s representatives on the Democratic Party’s platform drafting committee refused to negotiate additional language on Israel with Bernie Sanders’ team, James Zogby said on Tuesday.
“Clinton’s envoys to the committee arrived in St. Louis for negotiations with Sanders’ team carrying a precise message: Don’t even try to insert language on Israel’s occupation or settlement activity in the West Bank,” The Jerusalem Post reported based on an interview with Zogby, a Sanders supporter on the committee. “Nobody really came to me to negotiate this,” Zogby told JPost. “They just came to me and said, ‘we’re going to win this and you’re going to lose.’”
Sources close to the process confirmed Zogby’s account.
The platform drafting committee voted down an amendment that would have called for “an end to occupation and illegal settlements” and an international effort to rebuild Gaza during a meeting in St. Louis on Friday. Instead, the 15-member drafting committee approved a draft that advocates for a “two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” that guarantees Israel’s security with recognized borders “and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity.”
J Street, which lobbied for a “new consensus” approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, welcomed the decision to include language that “recognizes the legitimate rights and national aspirations of the Palestinian people,” saying it marks an “important step forward for the party.”
But Zogby, while conceding defeat, vowed to continue the fight at a meeting in Orlando next month. “I certainly don’t have any expectation that it will change,” he said. “But there are times when the discussion itself is important, and continuing the discussion is more important. Being silent will be the worst thing.”
Several progressive Democrats and Jewish supporters of Hillary Clinton, speaking to Jewish Insider on the condition of anonymity for fear of political retribution, accused J Street of pursuing a pro-Trump campaign by focusing on Israel as a single issue. On Thursday, J Street recruited Congressman Luis Gutierrez, an appointee of Hillary Clinton to the platform drafting committee, to co-sign an email urging the committee to make J Street’s changes to the platform.
“Every time J Street does this they’re making an in-kind donation to the Donald Trump campaign,” one of the more than a dozen pro-Israel Democrats who received a call from the Clinton campaign on Thursday, but who refused to speak on the record, told Jewish Insider. “J Street needs to stop convincing members of Congress that they’re doing the right thing by preemptively rejecting what will be the most progressive Democratic platform in history. Luis [Gutierrez] made a mistake here and he’ll have to fix it, but Jeremy [Ben-Ami] and his board should have known better. If Trump wins because of this, J Street will never be forgiven.”
According to those with knowledge of internal polling, J Street’s push improves the chances that Donald Trump defeats Hillary Clinton in November.
In 2012, the National Jewish Democratic Council helped bring Florida in the blue column due to a concentrated effort to mobilize Jewish voters in the last weeks leading to election day. According to NJDC’s chairman Greg Rosenbaum, a poll conducted by Democratic pollster Mark Mellman immediately following Rosh Hashanah of 2012 showed Obama getting about 59 percent of the Jewish vote in Florida, which would mean that Mitt Romney would win the State of Florida. “So between Rosh Hashanah and Election Day (about seven weeks), we flooded Jewish homes with direct mail, we had a very active robocall operation and a door-knocking operation,” he recalled in an interview with Jewish Insider in December. “While we focused on the claims that the Obama administration was not pro-Israel enough, we also reminded Florida voters that, Israel aside, where we believed that you needed to have strong bipartisan support for the US-Israeli relationship, on every other issue the Democrats were more likely to represent the views of Florida Jewish voters than Republicans.” Exit polling showed an increase of support from 59 to 71 percent – a twelve point shift in seven weeks, which was about 144,000 additional votes.
Obama’s margin of victory in Florida was less than 1 percent – 70,000 votes.
Recent polls show Clinton with a slim 3 point lead over Trump in the Sunshine State.
Last week, the Republican Jewish Coalition launched an online campaign that highlights what they called are anti-Israel voices in the Democratic Party. “Radical Democrat. Stridently anti-Israel. Hand selected to be a Member of the twenty sixteen Democrat Platform Committee,” the narrator says in three separate ads, each highlighting statements made by the three Sanders appointees. “Sadly this isn’t the old Democratic Party. It’s today’s Democratic Party.”
A J Street spokesperson declined to comment.
The Republican Jewish Coalition pounced on the divide within the Democratic Party over the issue. “It’s no secret that Democrats for years have been infighting about Israel. Now as anti-Israel progressive liberals are taking more and more space from moderate Democrats these fights are exploding into the open,” RJC spokesman Mark McNulty told Jewish Insider on Tuesday. “The RJC is proud that the GOP is unapologetically pro-Israel. We will continue to make the case to Jewish voters that now more than ever they have one home and that is with the GOP.”