Election campaigns serve a lot of purposes, and it is increasingly obvious that Israel supporters on whom Hillary Clinton is dependent are using her campaign to put the knife in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. You will recall that Bernie Sanders’ loyalists on the Democratic platform committee spoke up for Palestinian rights and even BDS at an early meeting of that body, and Cornel West said the party was “beholden to AIPAC”, the leading Israel lobby group.
West was on to something. Today Jewish Insider reports that an AIPAC board member sees the Clinton campaign as a vehicle to stifle BDS:
Prominent attorney Norm Brownstein told us he was with Hillary Clinton in Denver yesterday where she spoke to him at length about how Israel doesn’t need third party intervention via the U.N. and that she will oppose the BDS movement and any other effort to delegitimize Israel in the international arena.
Meantime, a leading advocate for Hillary Clinton in the African-American community, former South Carolina legislator Bakari Sellers, has published a letter urging the Democratic Party to stick by its 2012 platform language on Israel and Palestine — no reference to occupation or settlements, and Jerusalem is forever the capital of the Jewish state, etc.– and to oppose BDS. The letter is reportedly co-signed by 60 black Democrats. We’re waiting for the list.
Excerpts from the letter here. Let’s stick with the status quo:
I believe that the Mideast planks of the previous platform were carefully crafted and have served us well as a party and a country. As Democrats…we would be well served to stick closely to our previous platform language and ensure that any changes…do nothing to undermine the principles that have given such strength and clarity to our previous platforms.
BDS is anti-Semitic.
…Anti-Semitism has been on the rise and it has taken a new form — the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement known as BDS. The BDS movement is an effort to bypass direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and, instead, use economic and political pressure to force unilateral Israeli action on issues that must be resolved through talks.
CNN says that the letter is aimed at staunching a “public narrative” about Israel on the left:
“Concerned that [Sanders surrogate James] Zogby and West’s viewpoint may be gaining traction at least in the public narrative, Bakari Sellers, a former South Carolina representative and now a CNN commentator, sent a letter signed by 60 African American politicians around the country to the co-chairs of the platform committee last week urging them to stick to the traditional language on Israel,” CNN reported.
Rania Khalek of Electronic Intifada writes that the effort is a cynical way of trying to defuse progressive sympathy for Palestinians, flowing from the Bernie Sanders advocates on the platform committee:
West’s and Zogby’s advocacy for Palestinian rights has been so insistent that the Clinton wing of the party has attempted to neutralize them through the most cynical form of identity politicking.
Here’s the letter:
Sellers spoke to the AIPAC conference this spring, alongside several other Clintonites, and he has been a vital asset to AIPAC in its efforts to foster relationships in liberal communities. The Forward reported three years ago:
Bakari Sellers is one of AIPAC’s key presenters when it comes to approaching the liberal community. The 28-year-old African-American Democrat was the youngest member of South Carolina’s state legislature. He first engaged with AIPAC as a student leader at Morehouse College, a historic black institute, and has since visited Israel and spoken at many of the lobby’s events.
“The values we care about, such as human rights, women’s rights and gay rights, are important to Israel,” Sellers said in an interview on the sidelines of the AIPAC conference. “We can hope these values duplicate themselves throughout the Middle East.”
Sellers was cultivated by the Israel lobby when he was president of the student government at Morehouse College. The Israel lobby group AIPAC brought him to Washington for its annual conference. Ten years later, Sellers described being dazzled by that conference.
“There might have been ten black people at the whole conference, of 7500… I remember that they had the rollcall. I was just so enthralled. Every member of Congress, or at least 75 percent of them were there…. I got a chance to see Condoleezza Rice and I got a chance to see George Bush…
He said he challenges the Israel lobby over settlements:
I challenge them on issues. I challenge them on issues dealing with Palestine, and the way that they treat the Palestinian government, and their aggressiveness… in terms of some of their settlements and things of that nature….
But I also go back and I think Jewish community was there most times, many times, hand in hand with the African-American community during the Civil Rights movement.
Thanks to Adam Horowitz.