What do a Glencoe rabbi with ties to the administration of President Barack Obama, and his Democratic opponent, , have in common?
All three strongly reject a plank in the Democratic Party platform omitting references to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The new statement differs from the party’s position in past campaigns.
Schneider, Dold and all condemned the changed stance of the Democratic Party. Nesselson sat on a White House committee on American-Israeli relations at the invitation of President Obama.
Their cries and those of others were heard as the Democrats changed course Wednesday afternoon, according to an article in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. The switch was not without controversy. It came on order of President Obama, according to Politico.
Nesselson believes the status of Jerusalem should have no place in partisan politics and questions the wisdom of the committee that included it.
Rabbi Questions Democrats’ Thinking
“It's unclear to me what they were thinking,” Nesselson said. “But as a rabbi, I can say this: to the Jewish people Jerusalem has no place in partisan politics. Over the millennia, we think of Jerusalem as our heart and soul. It is part of our religious consciousness, so central is it to our identity and our connection to God.”
Dold considers the status of Jerusalem not only a bipartisan issue but believes cooperation between Democrats and Republicans is central to the strength of the relationship between America and Israel.
“The strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship is its bipartisan support and strong leadership in Congress," Dold said. “I certainly look forward to that continuing in the future. I support an undivided Jerusalem as the recognized capital of the State of Israel.”
Schneider and Dold have their differences on some issues, but there was none on the issue of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Deerfield Democrat was clear in his feelings on the subject.
“Jerusalem is and will always be the eternal, unified capital of the State of Israel,” Schneider said. “This is the same thing I have felt every time I have been to Israel.”
Though Dold and Schneider have both made strong statements supporting Israel throughout the campaign, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) used the platform as an opportunity to criticize Schneider. The NRCC is an organization committed to electing Republicans to the House of Representatives.
“It is deeply troubling that Brad Schneider would take such an extreme new stance against one of America’s most important allies,” NRCC spokesperson Katie Prill said. “What you see with Brad Schneider are dangerous policies that hurt Israel.”
Republican Criticism Evokes Strong Response From Schneider
Schneider, who is Jewish, responded with emotion. “'If I forget thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning,’” he said quoting lines from 137th Psalm from The Bible. “In 1990 I went there to stand shoulder to shoulder with them (the Israelis),” he added referring to a Jewish United Fund mission staged after Iraq invaded Kuwait.
When Nesselson explained the strong emotional Jewish tie to Jerusalem, she went to the same source as Schneider.
“Not for nothing did the psalmist say, ‘If I forget Thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither,’" Nesselson said. “All of our hopes, dreams and vision come together in Jerusalem; Jerusalem is our center.”
Though the Democrats changed their platform, it was not without boos from some of the delegates, according to the Journal and Constitution. It took three voice votes, according to a video posted on You Tube.