Controversial resolutions at caucuses


Hopefully this will be my last post about the goings-on at Tuesday’s caucuses — as we look forward to actual delegate elections, Tuesday’s specific events will be less important.

One of the ways in which they do affect party business going forward is through the resolution process. This is a way for individuals and groups to have a direct impact on a party’s platform. Lots of “whereas”es and “Be it resolved..”s.

Most of the resolutions offered in my precinct were fairly non-controversial: we support closing the gun show loophole. We support universal health care. Et cetera.

Only one resolution drew any sort of controversy among our small group: the Progressive Caucus resolution calling for Minnesota to divest from Israeli bonds.

I was the first to speak against it. The resolution was brought by our convener, who happens to frequent this part of the blogosphere and is someone whom I consider a good friend.

But the resolution was and is wrong, for several reasons:

1. The DFL Party’s platform specifically says that the DFL supports Israel’s right to exist and defend itself against existential threats. That alone should be enough for us to say that this resolution (as written) is a no-go.

2. The resolution speaks of Israel/Gaza/West Bank as a situation analogous to apartheid, the South African policy that was ended twenty years ago. This analogy is fraught with error: Israel is a sovereign nation that happens to be occupying territories that the international community does not recognize as belonging to it. The Palestinian people are not Israeli citizens, nor are they considered such by the international community. The West Bank and Gaza technically have a government of their own, albeit a dysfunctional one.

3. There are much, MUCH better ways to accomplish the goal of peace in the Middle East. Organizations such as J Street are providing a strong and growing Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace voice in the American political realm, generally recognized as the place where a resolution to the Israel/West Bank/Gaza question will be formed.

We discussed the issues, we discussed the resolution, there were questions raised, and we discussed those too — as rational, friendly neighbors who are talking about important issues facing our community and the world.

Ultimately, the resolution failed on a tie vote (5-5), and those who spoke on both sides agreed that the term “anti-semitism” gets thrown around far too frequently in our political discourse, especially when organizations like the American-Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) gets involved.

The resolution, how we discussed it, and even the outcome are important things to consider when we discuss the caucus system and its benefits and pitfalls.