CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In damage control over Israel, the Democratic Party abruptly reversed course Wednesday and reinstated language that asserts Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state. The party also reinstated language affirming the God-given potential of Americans.
The changes were made at the direct request of President Barack Obama, said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Broward County lawmaker who chairs the Democratic National Committee.
The president intervened out of a personal opinion that Jerusalem should be recognized as the state of Israel, recognizing that this was in the 2008 platform, Wasserman Schultz said.
We already had a 100 percent pro-Israel platform, she said, but the president wanted to make sure there was even more clarity in it.
The platform was revised after withering assaults from Republicans, who questioned Obamas committment to Israel.
The changes, made by voice vote on the convention floor, didnt come easy. Few knew they were happening. None of the rank-and-file Democrats had a clue about Obamas involvement.
The changes were opposed loudly by some delegates, some of whom held "Arab American Democrats" signs on the convention floor as they yelled no.
Those delegates said they opposed the language about Jerusalem specifically. And they didnt like the last-minute procedural move that caught them off-guard.
Obviously, it makes me feel a little frustrated that this is not being truly discussed in a fair just way, said Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim-American woman elected to the Michigan state Legislature.
Many didnt even know the changes had been made on the floor of the convention which came straight from the top of the party: President Obama, according to the Associated Press.
The last-minute decision followed a day of Democrats defending the policy and marred an otherwise triumphant convention opener where they showcased minorities.
In drafting the platform, the committee left out language that asserts Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and will remain it a position that had been in the partys 2008 document.
The language was stripped this year by a vote of the platform committee, Tlaib said, whos on the rules committee for the convention. She said the reversal was made because of pushback from the Jewish community.
Early Wednesday, before the language changed, Republicans pounced, while Democrats went on defense as they realized theyd caused problems with a key constituency: Jewish voters.
No one has been stronger on Israel than President Obama, Schultz, the Broward County lawmaker who is Jewish told a gaggle of reporters Wednesday morning.
Explaining the foreign-policy nuances of the partys posture and goals wasnt how Wasserman Schultz had planned to spend the morning after First Lady Michelle Obama gave a much-heralded speech at the convention.
But the issue of Israel and Jewish voters a key Democratic interest group in swing-state Florida dominated the discussion. Just days before, at his partys convention in Tampa, Republican Mitt Romney had accused Obama of throwing Israel under the bus.
The Jerusalem omission was a sign, Republicans said, that Romney was right.
Said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul: Mitt Romney has consistently stated his belief that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Although todays voice vote at the Democratic National Convention was unclear, the Democratic Party has acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. President Obama has repeatedly refused to say the same himself. Now is the time for President Obama to state in unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israels capital.