Ewen MacAskillÂ , The Guardian
The Democratic national convention in Charlotte has been plunged into chaos with a row overÂ IsraelÂ threatening to overshadow Bill Clinton’s speech as the second day of business was mired in a clumsy and embarrassing climbdown.
Barack ObamaÂ intervened personally to try and head off a mounting clamour from Jewish donors and pro-Israel groups who objected to the dropping of a line supporting Jerusalem as the capital of Israel from the Democratic policy platform.
A day after the platform was published without the recognition of Jerusalem, the line was reinstated. Pressure had been building over not only the dropping of that statement â€“ which was part of the Democratic party platform in 2008 â€“ but also the removal of any reference to God in the document. Those omissions threatened to alienate both Jewish Democratic supporters and Christian swing voters.
But the reintroduction of the lines was equally controversial; its clumsy handling resulting in a confusing vote and booing on the convention floor.
At the formal opening of the day’s business, the convention chairman, Antonio Villaraigosa, proposed a vote to return to the document its past commitment to Jerusalem as the Israeli capital as well as a reference to God.
He called for those in favour of the change to shout ‘Aye’ and those against ‘No’. It was a hard to tell, with the two sounding evenly-divided. Villaraigosa called the vote a total of three times to no certain result but eventually called it for the Ayes.
In fact, the change required a two-thirds vote in favour and it definitely did not sound anywhere close to that. But Villaraigosa pushed it through anyway, determined to try to bring a speedy end to an awkward row. There was loud booing in the hall when he announced the changes had gone through.
Jewish donors, particularly in New York, and pro-Israeli lobby groups are generous supporters not only to Obama but to individual senators and members of the House, who are also facing election in November. The changes were pushed through after Obama contacted party leaders asking for their reinstatement.
Quoting Democrat sources, Jessica Yellin, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, reported on Twitter that when Obama was told “God” had been removed from the platform, he responded: “Why on earth was it changed?”
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