THE BLOG
05/31/2016 06:03 pm ET Updated Jun 01, 2017

There's Nothing Controversial About a DNC Platform That Supports Israeli Security and Palestinian Rights

The announcement last week of the composition of the Democratic Party's Platform Committee has fueled speculation of a looming intra-party battle over Israel and the Palestinians.

Without question, there's tension on these issues in present-day politics as outdated notions of what it means to be pro-Israel give way to more nuanced ideas better suited to the present moment.

The platform committee shouldn't approach its work believing there is a painful choice awaiting between two competing visions, but rather seeing a valuable opportunity to articulate a new consensus on America's approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For some time now, political leaders have labored under the erroneous assumption that American Jews -- an important and reliable Democratic constituency -- are far more hawkish when it comes to Israel than they actually are.

Politicians have feared, for instance, articulating the notion that the Palestinians have a right to a state or that both Israeli and Palestinian leaderships bear some responsibility for the ongoing failure to resolve their conflict. Indeed, the current Democratic platform mentions neither settlement expansion nor the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people.

Yet American Jews -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- overwhelmingly favor a two-state solution, oppose unlimited settlement expansion and want stronger American leadership to end the conflict.

This erroneous understanding of American Jewish opinion has caused a growing gap between American Jews and those representing them over what it means to be pro-Israel. But, in Congress, in Jewish communities and at the ballot box, that gap is now closing.

The drafting committee has an opportunity to close the same gap in their platform. In doing so, they can ensure that the official views of the party conform to the views of its constituents.

As Israel and the Palestinians came up in debates and speeches, both Democratic candidates reiterated their commitment to ensuring Israel's right to live free from terror and the Palestinians' right to dignity and self-determination.

The challenge before the drafting committee now is to build on the common ground that began to emerge and to put forward a platform that represents pro-Israel, pro-peace views that Democratic voters actually hold.

The platform should clearly affirm the right of both the Jewish and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination in states of their own.

Support for the two-state solution breaks no new ground and has been a consensus position not simply within the Democratic Party but across party lines for years.

So too, every American administration since President Johnson's time has expressed American opposition to settlement construction and expansion over the Green Line in the territory Israel has occupied since the 1967 War -- fifty years ago.

As it expresses opposition to settlements and to occupation, the platform must also reaffirm American opposition to the BDS Movement which fails to recognize Israel's right to exist, to support the two-state solution and to differentiate between opposing occupation and opposing Israel itself.

Israel faces real threats and has serious enemies, and the commitment of the United States to its security should be stated unambiguously.

Consensus can also be built around crystal clear denunciations of violence, terror and incitement and affirmation of American opposition to unilateral actions that move the sides further from rather than toward peaceful, diplomatic resolution of their conflict.

While only the parties themselves can ultimately agree to an end to the conflict, the US and its close allies in the international community have a vital role to play in reaching a solution.

Of course, any time issues related to Israel and the Middle East are discussed, there will be points of disagreement and dissent, and it goes without saying that the Democratic Party represents millions of diverse and passionate Americans. But the consensus that can be reached is pragmatic, progressive and uncontroversial -- because it can speak to the majority of Democrats and the majority of American Jews.

Pundits may continue to predict and even hope for political fireworks in Philadelphia. But when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it seems more than conceivable that Democrats can leave them sorely disappointed.