platform politics

North Carolina Dems move forward with newly revised platform resolutions on Israel

Members of the Resolutions and Platform Committee approved five resolutions concerning Israel and Middle East policy, all but one of which passed unanimously

Logan Cyrus for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Anderson Clayton, the new 25-year-old NC Democratic Party chair, is applauded by members of the Union County Democratic Party at an organizing event in Monroe, North Carolina, US, on Thursday, March 16, 2023.

The North Carolina Democratic Party moved forward on Saturday with a series of newly revised platform resolutions that had threatened to fuel internal divisions over Israel ahead of a challenging election cycle.

Members of the Resolutions and Platform Committee approved five resolutions concerning Israel and Middle East policy, all but one of which passed unanimously — likely preempting, for now, a potentially heated platform fight of the sort that has roiled the state party in recent years.

The resolutions, listed in a platform section on international relations, broadly express support for “equal measures of security, freedom and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians,” while backing “vigorous diplomatic engagement for Middle East peace, with the United States as a mediator between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” according to a draft document reviewed by Jewish Insider.

The platform, which will head to a vote by the party’s state executive committee on June 24, also calls for “full human rights for Palestinians and Israelis” and condemns “acts of racism, religious bigotry” against Muslims, Palestinian and Jews, among other measures.

Most notable, however, are the resolutions that were left out of the platform, which had been a subject of contentious debate among party members. Prior to the committee meeting on Saturday, the resolutions had drawn scrutiny from local Jewish leaders — including Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), a staunch supporter of Israel who had suggested that the proposed resolutions could “exacerbate antisemitism” while “driving a wedge between” the party as it prepares for a difficult campaign season.

Among the measures that stirred controversy were a resolution endorsing the Palestinian “right of return” to Israel and a call to commemorate May 15 as Nakba Day, the Arabic term for “catastrophe” used to denote the Palestinian exodus during the war surrounding the foundation of Israel. Those resolutions have been removed, the draft document now shows.

A spokesperson for Manning did not respond to a request for comment regarding the updated package of resolutions. The congresswoman, who sits on the Resolutions and Platforms Committee, attended the meeting virtually and delegated a proxy to address concerns in person, according to people familiar with the proceedings.

Floyd McKissick Jr., a former state senator who chairs the Resolutions and Platform Committee, said he was satisfied with the outcome. “In this case, you had resolutions that were highly contentious,” he said in an interview with JI on Monday. “The goal was to work on them sufficiently to be able to obtain broad-based support for the compromise language addressing Israeli and Palestinian issues.”

“I think we were successful in trying to craft language that everybody could feel comfortable with,” he added.

The one resolution that did not receive full support from party members, McKissick said, was a measure recognizing “the displacement of” both Jews and Palestinians “in connection with the founding of the State of Israel and the importance of conversations around the human rights implications of such displacement.”

A previous version of the resolution had only recognized the displacement of Palestinians but was revised to include “reciprocal language,” according to McKissick, who said that Manning’s in-person representative had requested a modification to include Jewish displacement in an updated resolution. “I think we struck that balance that was challenging to reach,” McKissick told JI.

The platform includes similarly expanded language in a resolution that had previously commended unnamed “Jewish American leaders in North Carolina and beyond for taking steps to hold the current right-wing government of the State of Israel accountable for its policies.”

The new resolution approved by the committee now praises “Jewish-American leaders and other leaders in North Carolina and beyond for taking steps to hold the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority accountable for their policies.”

The state party remains somewhat at odds with the national Democratic platform on Middle East policy, which supports “a negotiated two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “that ensures Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.” The state platform, which does not explicitly endorse that solution, only broadly supports “the right of Israeli citizens and Palestinians to determine the resolution of the conflict between them, through mutually respectful negotiations.”

An earlier version, however, had advocated for remaining neutral “on whether the best solution to” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “is the so-called ‘two-state solution’ or ‘one-state solution.’” That language has since been cut.

The final resolution approved on Saturday notes that the North Carolina Democratic Party “is committed to democratic values and to fighting extremism of all types, while advising “members and elected officials to carefully consider the sources of all donations” — a veiled reference to AIPAC, whose affiliated super PAC spent heavily in two Democratic primaries for open House seats in North Carolina last cycle.

The state party’s Progressive Caucus revoked its support for one candidate amid AIPAC’s involvement, which was directly cited in a previous resolution that had already been scrapped before the meeting took place this past weekend.

Nazim Uddin, the director of internal communications for the Progressive Caucus who helped craft some of the language that was tweaked or cut, said he was “pleased to see that these resolutions were overwhelmingly approved by the committee” on Saturday. “While I did not get exactly the stronger positions on the issues that I would have liked,” he added, “I know the Palestinian-American observers and other allies who attended the meeting were encouraged with the outcome.”

“I think the committee did its job,” Jonah Garson, first vice chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party, told JI on Monday. “There was a lot of work done to put together a compromise package.”

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