Sanders Taps Prominent pro-Palestinian Activist Zogby for DNC Platform Committee

Pick of James Zogby to represent the candidate in drafting the party platform at convention hints at Sanders' plan to change party policy on Israel.

Jacob Kornbluh, Jewish Insider
James Zogby in 2010
James Zogby in 2010Credit: Wikimedia
Jacob Kornbluh, Jewish Insider

This article was originally published on Jewish Insider.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has picked an influential pro-Palestinian activist as a member on one of the five slots he was given to the 15-member DNC platform committee, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

According to the report, James Zogby, president of the Arab-American Institute in Washington, was picked as one of five people to represent the Sanders campaign in drafting the Democratic Party platform for this year’s convention, a sign of his plans to push for provisions in the party’s policy on Israel.

The Washington Post reported on Friday that Sanders intends to push for revisions in the party’s position about relations with Israel, with a focus on elevating Palestinian rights as a U.S. priority and push for a more even-handed approach to the Israeli-Palestinians conflict.

On Saturday, Zogby called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s behavior in seeking to expand his coalition government as “shameful.” But he also criticized the administration and Americans for continuing “to enable his malevolent rule.” The Obama administration has “repeatedly expressed displeasure over Netanyahu’s settlement policies and his blatant interference in US internal politics.

The Obama administration has “repeatedly expressed displeasure over Netanyahu’s settlement policies and his blatant interference in US internal politics,” Zogby wrote, as noted by The Washington Post. “Nevertheless, the administration is now debating whether to reward his government with a 10-year aid package valued at $35 billion—while Netanyahu, supported by allies in Congress, is brazenly holding out for $45 to $50 billion. And so, operating with virtually no restraints, Netanyahu continues to maneuver and to aggressively advance his hard-line agenda. He maintains his grip on power. Israeli society continues to become more extreme and intolerant. Palestinians are more despairing and desperate. And peace more remote.”

The deal between the campaigns and the DNC – which gives the Clinton campaign six members and the Sanders campaign five members – gives Sanders an unusual say over the platform, no matter what the outcome will be in the remaining presidential primaries.

The Clinton campaign and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s choices include Wendy Sherman, the lead U.S. negotiator for the Iran nuclear deal, Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, and former Congressman Howard Berman. Rep. Elijah Cummings will serve as chairman.

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) said in a statement to Jewish Insider on Friday that no matter the wording, “This year, Democrats will once again approve a platform that speaks to our commitment a strong US-Israel relationship.”

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