Part of Bernie Sanders’ charm is that for all of his arm-waving jeremiads, he appears unthreatening. He’s the weird old uncle in the attic, Larry David’s crazy Bernie. It’s almost a matter of style. Who can be afraid of a candidate so irascible, grumpy, old-fashioned and unfashionable?
After all, he’s not going to win the nomination, so what harm can he do? A major address at the party convention? A say in the vice presidential selection? And who reads party platforms anyway?
Well, platforms may not immediately affect a particular campaign. But they do express, quite literally, the party line, a written record of its ideological trajectory.
Which is why two of Sanders’ appointments to the 15-member platform committee are so stunning. Professor Cornel West not only has called the Israeli prime minister a war criminal but openly supports the BDS movement (boycott, divestment and sanctions), the most important attempt in the world to ostracize and delegitimize Israel.
West is joined on the committee by the longtime pro-Palestinian activist James Zogby. Together, reported The New York Times, they “vowed to upend what they see as the party’s lopsided support of Israel.”
This seems a gratuitous provocation. Sanders hardly made Israel central to his campaign. He did call Israel’s response in the 2014 Gaza war “disproportionate” and said “we cannot continue to be one-sided.” But now Sanders seeks to permanently alter — i.e. weaken — the relationship between the Democratic Party and Israel, which has been close and supportive since Harry Truman recognized the world’s only Jewish state when it declared independence in May 1948.
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