by James M. Wall
Given the dire, looming alternative of a President Donald Trump, it is tempting to stop worrying about the Bern and embrace the New York Times’ pro-Clinton narrative.
Not so fast. There is still ample time to support the party’s nominee after the Bernie Sanders’ forces make their Platform Committee stand.
Sanders has lain down a defiant marker by selecting three major pro-Palestinian Platform Committee members: Cornel West, James Zogby and Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, each of whom brings a unique background to this fight.
That trio sounds like one of those powerful law firms of West, Zogby and Ellison, a team you would not want to face in the courtroom of public opinion when the issue is the continuous torture of a battered client.
The Arab American Institution posted a video introducing five progressive activists appointed by Sanders to represent him on the Platform Committee.
Sanders will arrive in Philadelphia lacking enough delegates for the nomination. But thanks to his delegates, including his progressive “Dream Team” on the platform committee, he is in a strong position to shape the platform.
The New York Times, and the rest of the establishment mainline media, constantly remind voters that platforms do not matter. And to be sure, Democrats in Congress are not guided by the party platform.
Still, the media thrives on conflict and since this should be a lively platform committee conflict, those sessions will get attention.
First, we need to debunk portions of the mainstream media pro-Clinton narrative. The Washington Post report on Sanders and his platform committee choices, began this way:
Sen. Bernie Sanders was given unprecedented say over the Democratic Party platform Monday in a move party leaders hope will soothe a bitter split with backers of the longshot challenger to Hillary Clinton — and Sanders immediately used his new power to name a well-known advocate for Palestinian rights to help draft Democratic policy.
Sanders did not suddenly gain his “new power”. A candidate still in the race for the nomination, with earned delegates, is entitled to an allocated percentage of committee seats.
Contrary to the Post, Sanders was not “given unprecedented say over the Democratic Party platform”. He earned those committee seats by winning delegates.
He was not given seats to “soothe a bitter split”, and he did not use “his new power” to name committee members. He did not get them as largesse from the DNC. He got them the “old-fashioned way”. He earned them.
Party unity can wait until after the convention. Sanders should stay in this race as long as he and his delegates can impact the future of the party.
We may devoutly hope that a properly reported platform fight will cool down Clinton’s ardor for what the Nation magazine calls the “most-right wing government in Israel’s history”.
The recent political reshuffling in Israel’s governing coalition will put the unbridled nationalist Avigdor Lieberman in charge of the defense ministry and seal the creation of the most overtly right-wing government in Israeli history.
The New York Times doggedly clings to Israel’s version of the Palestinian struggle as it pretends its media neutrality. At times the pretense is dropped.
Recent case in point: The Times’ initial print story about two of Sanders’ platform committee appointees initially put quotation marks around the word “occupation”. Later editions. and the web version of the story, hastily removed the exposing quote marks.
Below is a screen shot captured by Mondoweiss of the original print story, with “occupation”‘ in quote marks, the publication’s way of suggesting an uncertainty of veracity.
Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, examined Clinton’s hard-line support of Israel in an essay for The Progressive:
While the large-scale civilian casualties inflicted by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in military operations in recent years have raised concerns both within Israel and internationally, Hillary Clinton—the almost-certain Democratic nominee for President—has repeatedly gone on record defending the IDF’s conduct.
Not only has she failed to even once raise concerns about the thousands of civilian deaths inflicted by Israeli forces, she has been a harsh critic of human rights organizations and international jurists who have.
Going well beyond the normal “pro-Israel” rhetoric expected of American politicians, she has defended Israeli attacks on heavily-populated civilian areas as legitimate self-defense against terrorism, even in cases where the Obama administration and members of Congress—including Sanders—have raised objections.
Her statements raise serious questions as to what kind of rules of engagement she would support for U.S. forces in the “War on Terror”.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman typically sweetens his criticism of Israel’s ultra right-wing government with digs at Israel’s progressive critics.
In his May 25 column, “Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel-Palestine”, Friedman went beyond a casual nod against the progressives. He offered what must be described as false testimony by misrepresenting BDS, dismissing it as no more than an anti-Israel American “campus movement”. He wrote:
Israel has recently been under intense criticism on the world stage. Some of it, like the “boycott, divestment, sanctions” (B.D.S.) campaign, is a campus movement to destroy Israel masquerading as a political critique.
Friedman’s clipping service could inform him that BDS originated among Palestinian religious and secular leaders. It is anything but merely “a campus movement”, an epithet that is unfair to campus activists and to the international BDS campaign.
Take note, Thomas Friedman, if BDS is just an “anti-Israel campus movement”, then the New York Yankees are just a bunch of guys tossing and hitting baseballs in Central Park.
Closing on a brighter note.
In January, 2009, President Barack Obama had just been inaugurated. It was a hopeful time. The nation’s first African American president was beginning his first term in office.
At the time, I wrote a posting that included the words of “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, often referred to as the unofficial African-American National anthem.
I returned to “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in 2013, with a new posting which included a video provided by Emory University with the closing song on a night the school honored author Alice Walker, the noted African American author.
“Lift Every Voice and Sing” was written as a poem in 1899 by James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) and set to music in 1900 by his brother, John Rosamond Johnson (1873–1954).
In the video the young man leading the singing is an Emory graduate, class of 2011. His name is Garrett M. Turner. At that time he was preparing to pursue further graduate work at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.