As presidential candidate Bernie Sanders presses to have the Democratic party adopt a pro-Palestinian stance, his rival Hillary Clinton has remained noticeably tight-lipped on the subject, showing the balancing act she is playing in a shifting party.
Sanders has been given five of the 15 seats on the party platform drafting committee at the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) July convention. His representatives plan to press for a platform change away from Israel – two of the five, Cornel West and James Zogby, have made openly hostile comments against the Jewish state.
But in response to Sanders' plans to change the party platform Clinton, who has frequently made pro-Israel statements, has refused to speak about the issue.
Clinton advisers refused to talk about the issue "because of sensitivity to any move that might inflame tensions with Sanders and his supporters," reports the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday. A Clinton spokesperson likewise refused to comment to the Washington Free Beacon.
The most response her campaign would give was a general statement by Jake Sullivan, a senior policy adviser, who said, "Hillary Clinton’s views on Israel and the US-Israel relationship are well-documented and she’s confident that her delegates will work to ensure that the party platform reflects them."
Clinton has six representatives on the party platform drafting committee, giving her a slight edge on Sanders. The remaining four committee members were chosen by the DNC.
“We are watching every word, and it makes a big deal in Israel,” a former Israeli diplomat told the Los Angeles Times on condition of anonymity.
“It will not change quietly. I don’t think it will change because there are so many friends of Israel within the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.”
Democrats against Israel
Clinton's unwillingness to comment on Sanders' plan to make the platform openly anti-Israeli would seem to largely stem from a political calculation on her part, given that Democratic voters have shown themselves to be increasingly pro-Palestinian.
A Pew poll in April found 40% of self-described liberal Democrats said they sympathize with Palestinians more than with Israel, compared to just 33% who sided with Israel.
The finding was the first time that any political group (liberal Democrats, moderate-liberal Democrats, moderate-liberate Republicans, or conservative Republicans) showed higher support for the Palestinians since Pew began tracking the matter in 2001.
Back during the 2012 presidential election, the Democratic platform committee removed a section from the party's platform recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
That section was reinstated by convention leaders out of concerns of alienating pro-Israel voters, but delegates strongly opposed returning the recognition of Jerusalem, and the convention was filled with boos as attendees protested the move.
Sanders has shown an openly anti-Israeli stance on numerous occasions, such as when he falsely accused Israel of killing "10,000 innocents" in Gaza.
He has also accused President Barack Obama of not being on the Palestinians’ side enough.
In April, Sanders suspended his campaign’s Jewish outreach coordinator shortly after appointing her, after it was revealed that she previously had posted an expletive-ridden Facebook diatribe against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Clinton for her part was recently revealed to have tried to force a unity government to be formed in Israel back in 2009 so as to quash a right-wing coalition, as part of her goal of forcing through a two state solution that would include massive Israeli concessions.
Communiques from her illegal private email server during her time as Obama's secretary of state have also raised questions about the strong-arm techniques she might employ against Israel.