1) Israel – Our Strongest Ally in the Middle-East
In 2008, under the header "Renewing American Leadership – Working for Our Common Security – Stand with Allies and Pursue Diplomacy in the Middle East", the platform asserted that "For more than three decades, Israelis, Palestinians, Arab leaders, and the rest of the world have looked to America to lead the effort to build the road to a secure and lasting peace. Our starting point must always be our special relationship with Israel, grounded in shared interests and shared values, and a clear, strong, fundamental commitment to the security of Israel, our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy."
In 2012, under the header "Strengthening Alliances, Expanding Partnerships, and Reinvigorating International Institutions – The Middle East" the platform reads "A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States not simply because we share strategic interests, but also because we share common values."
No mention of any special relationship with Israel.
No description of Israel as our strongest ally in the region.
2) Maintaining Israel's Qualitative Military Edge
Previous platforms contained promises to maintain Israel's "qualitative military edge" in the region.
The 2008 platform reads: "That commitment [strong, fundamental commitment to the security of Israel], which requires us to ensure that Israel retains a qualitative edge for its national security and its right to self-defense, is all the more important as we contend with growing threats in the region – a strengthened Iran, a chaotic Iraq, the resurgence of Al Qaeda, the reinvigoration of Hamas and Hezbollah. We support the implementation of the memorandum of understanding that pledges $30 billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade to enhance and ensure its security" (pledging future support).
The 2012 platform mentions only that "The administration has also worked to ensure Israel's qualitative military edge in the region" (speaking of past support).
No commitment is mentioned to continue doing so in the future.
3) Hamas Terrorist Organization
2008 platform makes explicit mention o the continued need to oppose Hamas – the strong Palestinian terrorist organization supported by Iran that currently rules the Gaza strip (from which virtually daily rocket attacks are launched against Israeli civilian towns) and calls in its charter for the destruction of Israel.
It read: "To do so [take an active role to help secure a lasting settlement], we must help Israel identify and strengthen those partners who are truly committed to peace, while isolating those who seek conflict and instability, and stand with Israel against those who seek its destruction. The United States and its Quartet partners should continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel's right to exist, and abides by past agreements."
In the 2012 platform, language on the terrorist group Hamas is gone, and there is no mention of the need to stand with Israel against its enemies.
4) Palestinian Refugees
A long-standing Palestinian demand ("The Right of Return") is that Israel allow Palestinian refugees (and their descendents) who left their homes during the 1948-49 war to return to towns which a have been part of Israel since that war, hence, in effect, nullifying the Jewish majority of the 'Jewish State'.
The 2008 platform read explicitly that "The creation of a Palestinian state through final status negotiations, together with an international compensation mechanism, should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel."
The 2012 platform contains no language on the Palestinian refugees matter.
5) 1967 Borders
A long-standing Palestinian demand is that Israel withdraw back to the border lines held prior to the 1967 war (the armistice lines of established at the end of the 1949 war).
In 2004, the United States made a promise to Israel that it would not be forced back to the pre-1967 lines.
The 2008 platform read explicitly that "All understand that it is unrealistic to expect the outcome of final status negotiations to be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949."
The 2012 platform contains no language on the border issue.
2008 and 2004 Democratic Party platforms explicitly declared "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel… It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths."
Similar language has appeared in one form or another in Democratic Party platforms for much of the past 40 years!
The Obama administration's current refusal to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, however, is well documented.
In the original 2012 Democratic Party platform, Jerusalem is unmentioned.
Under fire and facing backlash and criticism, Democrats – in voice-vote procedure during their convention on September 5, 2012 that required two-thirds majority – moved to reinstate the language on Jerusalem.
It was pretty clear, however, that even after asking for multiple votes, two-thirds of the vote was not received. Rank and file delegates to the Democratic National Convention voiced significant opposition to the efforts to amend the party platform to reinstate the pro-Israel 'Jerusalem' language, forcing convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa to call the voice vote three times.
While the passing of the resolution required two-thirds majority, each time the "No's" were noticeably strong. In fact, CNN reporter Dana Bush was quoted as saying, "It seemed pretty to clear to me that the 'No's' had it."
Despite the absence of a two-thirds majority – the revised platform was adopted nonetheless.