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The biggest round of applause at the Democratic debate on Wednesday in Atlanta came when Senator Sanders announced “We must treat the Palestinian people as well with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

Blue Wave for Palestine

It was the latest proof of how Democratic voters increasingly support Palestinian rights. And it was exactly what they yearned to hear after Sec. of State Pompeo’s announcement on Monday that the U.S. no longer considers the hundreds of Israeli settlements a violation of international law.

Yet, as we witnessed at this past weekend’s California Democratic Party Endorsing Convention in Long Beach, party leaders, like the administration, are still in denial.

Equipped with hundreds of signs and stickers and a banner proclaiming support for Palestinians human rights, and quickly joined by dozens of supportive party members, last weekend we set out to show that California Democrats are fed up with the party’s complacency in the face of Israeli injustice.

Equipped with hundreds of signs and stickers and a banner proclaiming support for Palestinians human rights, and quickly joined by dozens of supportive party members, last weekend we set out to show that California Democrats are fed up with the party’s complacency in the face of Israeli injustice.

We’re leaders with a new organization that has deep roots: Jewish Voice for Peace Action draws strength from over half a million supporters and decades of organizing for freedom and dignity in Israel/Palestine and the US.

Long Beach gave us a warm welcome. Over and over again, convention delegates and candidates for various elected offices expressed their support. We ran out of stickers and posed for more pictures holding our signs and banner than we could count. People’s expressions of happiness to see folks unafraid to say out loud what they have been thinking and feeling for so long confirmed what we’ve been feeling at party conventions for years.

One young Palestinian woman asked if she could FaceTime us with her grandmother, who fled her village of Lydda in 1948. We waved and showed her our banner and stickers; her grandmother was crying to see so many people supporting Palestinian human rights.

It was especially encouraging when California elected representatives stopped to talk and expressed support. Some even told us they were glad we were there. Not to mention candidates for Congress like Frances Yasmeen Motiwalla and Cenk Uygur eagerly posing for photos.

And most importantly: with the help of dozens of supporters, we gathered some 400 signatures from delegates at the convention (one of every six attendees) to do something that’s never happened before: raise the issue of Palestinian rights to the full party’s consideration as a platform amendment on the floor.

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Our amendment was straightforward: it called for a solution to the conflict that “guarantees equality, security and democracy for all, no matter what the final settlement regarding states and borders.” It stated, as Senator Sanders did, that Palestinians deserve peace, dignity and a normal life just as much as Israelis or anyone else in the world. It opposed Israel’s ongoing annexation of Palestinian land, and affirmed Palestinians’ right to return to the homeland from which they were displaced in 1948, and receive compensation for their losses.

Palestinian Democrat and Palestine American League co-founder, Yassar Dahbour, said it best, when he ended his testimony with a simple but moving request: “I ask you to vote for my right to exist.”

This happened despite some procedural shenanigans from party leaders who attempted to prevent a floor vote. When that failed, they omitted the text of the amendment from folders, refused to allow delegates to project it or read it out loud to the body, and refused to allow a full count of votes.

On the last day of the convention, Rusty Hicks, the Chair of the Democratic Party, put his thumb on the scales right before the vote, absurdly proclaiming “Our party platform is not a value statement.”

We beg to differ. From immigrant justice to healthcare, from reproductive justice to the Movement for Black Lives, values are exactly what is driving this election season. As more and more Americans, including Jewish Americans like ourselves, demand an end to US funding of Israeli injustices, and that Palestinian freedom finally be established as a part of the platform.

After years of silence in Democratic party circles, open conversation and debate is a victory for the struggle for Palestinian freedom. And if there is anything that last nights’ debate and this past weekend’s convention shows us, we’re going to see a lot more of this throughout this election.

Both of us are Jewish activists who have been involved for years both in Democratic party politics and the struggle to end Israel’s injustices against Palestinians, including by ending U.S. military funding.

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Estee Chandler is a film industry veteran, and currently hosts and produces the long-running KPFK radio show, Middle East in Focus, alongside Nagwa Ibrahim.

Oren Robinson is a web developer and community organizer, currently serving as Secretary of the San Diego County Democratic Party.

Jewish Voice for Peace Action is a multiracial, intergenerational movement of Jews and allies working towards justice and equality in Israel/Palestine by transforming U.S. policy.