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What Is Israel's Capital? Democrats Have Trouble Saying

Author: Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
September 5, 2012
Wall Street Journal


'Have you ever met anybody who read the party platform? I've never met anybody." So quipped House Speaker John Boehner at the Republican convention last week. But platforms, and their changes over time, do reflect how party leaders see America and the world. Hence the justified criticism over the Democratic Party platform's failure to identify Jerusalem as the capital of Israel—until a barrage of criticism forced a rewrite on Wednesday.

Through party platforms, one can trace the history of America's relationship with Israel. The GOP in 1944 called for "unrestricted immigration" of Jews to Palestine "in accordance with the . . . Balfour Declaration," while the Democrats supported "the opening of Palestine to unrestricted Jewish immigration and colonization."

Both of the parties' 1948 platforms welcomed the creation of the State of Israel, although the Democrats also noted that they "continue to support, within the framework of the United Nations, the internationalization of Jerusalem." Friends of Israel were also supporters of the United Nations back then, and in 1956 the Republicans even believed that "the best hope for peace in the Middle East lies in the United Nations."

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