A proposed amendment to the California Democratic Party platform advocating for the Palestinian right of return failed at the Californian Democratic Party convention at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center on Nov. 17.
The amendment, authored by delegate David Mandel, stated that the party should “oppose any unilateral annexation of territory, and support the right of all those who were forced from their homes to return to their homelands and receive compensation for their losses.”
State Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel (D-San Fernando Valley), who is the vice chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, told the Journal in a phone interview that the amendment’s text was “problematic,” saying that it called for the Palestinian right of return to Israel. This would essentially be “a one-state solution,” Gabriel argued.
He said that the amendment failed, with an estimated 75% of delegates opposing it.
“It is very reassuring to see the California Democratic Party reaffirm its support for Israel, to the peace process, and for the Jewish community,” Gabriel said.
The Progressive Zionists of California similarly said in a statement that the amendment “included language calling for an unprecedented ‘right of return’ — a policy that would preclude a two-state solution.
“We are pleased the party has once again rejected extremism, and decided to focus on unifying issues,” Progressive Zionists of California Co-Founder Susan George said. “[The 2020 election] is the election of a lifetime, and we must focus on keeping the tremendous gains California Democrats made in 2018, not get derailed by a divisive conversation.”
Democrats for Israel President Andrew Lachman also said in a statement that the California Democrats’ support for Israel “provides a national model of how to come together to reclaim our place in the Democratic Party to reflect and support the interests and values of our community while fighting one-sided narratives by the anti-Israel community that seek to deny our legitimate rights to security and self-determination and promote anti-Semitism.”
Democratic Majority for Israel President Mark Mellman said in a statement that he was “thrilled” that the California Democratic Party thwarted efforts “to incorporate extreme and one-sided, anti-Israel planks into their platform. Instead, the platform continues the Party’s proud history of supporting both Israel and the peace process.”
UPDATE: Mandel wrote in an email to the Journal that he was among the Jewish Voice for Peace Action organizers who objected “to a ‘two-state solution’ and affirmation of a “secure, democratic Jewish state” with no mention of occupation, settlements, annexation, racist discrimination or refugees. The party, we argued, must focus squarely at these core issues and at the asymmetry of the conflict, and should not pre-ordain the number or nature of states that must result from eventual negotiations between representatives of the two peoples.”
He added that those who argued against the amendment on the floor invoked “the Holocaust and rail about how the proposal was tantamount to the destruction of Israel – an embarrassing display, but effective enough to sow doubt and fear among delegates whom we had not reached and who were not tuned in to how much the party’s position is inconsistent with its professed – if often left wanting for action – values of democracy, equality and freedom.”
Despite the amendment’s failure, Mandel wrote that he took solace in that “growing numbers of young delegates, delegates of color and many others, including large numbers of Jews who responded emotionally to our materials, are newly emboldened to speak out. We’re confident that a tipping point is fast approaching regarding support for Palestinian rights in the California Democratic Party. “