Republicans, media flip out over Democrats’ stance on Israeli capital, ignore own capital

Anyone paying even passing attention to the Democratic National Convention this week no doubt heard about the Republican Party losing its collective mind over the Democrats’ failure to mention Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in its party platform. The omission was seen as a departure from the Democrats’ traditional stance, as the party since 1992 had included language recognition of Jerusalem in its platform. Officially, the US government still recognizes Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital, where the US Embassy is located.

The outcry, amplified by the national media, was so great that the party buckled and at President Obama’s urging amended the platform to include language on Jerusalem. Before this could be done, however, cable news viewers were treated to some delegate drama reminiscent of the days when conventions were less predictable than the heavily scripted affairs they are today.

Meanwhile, the news media made nary a mention of both party’s collective yawn when it came to addressing the antiquated status of their own country’s capital, the District of Columbia. As noted on this blog, the Republicans defeated an attempt by the DC GOP to include language in the party platform advocating home rule and Congressional voting rights for the city, while the Democrats for the third time since 2000 left support for DC statehood out of the platform. DC news outlets covered the issue pretty well, but the national media mostly ignored it.

The obscene amount of attention devoted to this faux controversy must have been disheartening to the DC Democrats, who had descended on Charlotte intent on making the country (and even their own party) care about the District’s plight as a city beholden to the whims of Congress.

DC Mayor Vince Gray, who earlier in the week had to miss speaking at a DC budget autonomy rally due to a police cordon in downtown Charlotte, finally had a chance to speak directly to the country about DC when he cast District’s votes for President Obama during the DNC roll call vote, decrying taxation without representation as he did so. But by the time Gray made his appeal, it was midnight on the east coast, the networks had tuned out, and most people who hadn’t already been watching Honey Boo Boo on TLC earlier in the evening probably were by that time catching it on their DVR’s or had already gone to bed.

The lack of attention given to DC during the conventions is even more surprising given the fact that the issues DC leaders habitually rail against–unfair taxation, unencumbered federal control over local affairs–are issues that have had national resonance ever since the Republicans decided to begin disliking debt and federal spending.

Well, now that the conventions are over, at least the country can rest assured that both major political parties are on the record as supporting Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Unfortunately, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans seem willing to invest half as much effort in ensuring that the capital of their own country is afforded the status it deserves.

Fortunately for them, the rest of the country doesn’t seem to care.

American Samoa dragged into the Israel-Palestine debate

An ongoing disagreement between the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto over the legal status of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories has ensnared American Samoa.

The beef started when Goldberg criticized an Israeli government report that classified the West Bank as sovereign Israeli territory, rather than occupied territory. Goldberg argued that if the West Bank is in fact Israeli territory, then Israel should treat people living there–Jewish or Muslim–as Israeli citizens, and extend to them full voting rights.

Taranto took issue with this, demanding that Goldberg be packed off to American Samoa, an American territory where the native population lacks US citizenship and federal voting rights. Continue reading