Clinton marshals Black surrogates against BDS to stop pro-Pal influence in the “public narrative”
Philip Weiss, MondoWeiss, Jun 29 2016
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 into the BDS movement. You will recall that Bernie Sanders’ loyalists on the Democrat 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.” 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 Norman 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 UN and that she will oppose the BDS movement and any other effort to delegitimize Israel in the international arena.
Brownstein opposed the Iran deal. He is a big financial supporter of Democrat political campaigns. Meantime, a leading advocate for Hillary Clinton in the Black African community, former South Carolina legislator Bacardi Sellers, has published a letter urging the Democrat Party to stick by its 2012 platform language on Israel and Palestine: no reference to occupation or settlements, Jayloomia forever the capital of the Jewish state, 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. … Anti-Semitism has been on the rise and it has taken a new form 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 Zogby and West’s viewpoint may be gaining traction at least in the public narrative, Bacardi Sellers, a former South Carolina representative and now a CNN commentator, sent a letter signed by 60 Uncle Toms around the country to the co-chairs of the platform committee last week urging them to stick to the traditional language on Israel.
Rania Khalek 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.
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:
Bacardi Sellers is one of AIPAC’s key presenters when it comes to approaching the liberal community. The 28-year-old Democrat was the youngest member of South Carolina’s state legislature. He first engaged with AIPAC as a student leader at Morehouse College, a historically Black institute, and has since visited Israel and spoken at many of the lobby’s events. Sellers said in an interview on the sidelines of the AIPAC conference: “The values we care about, such as human rights, women’s rights and gay rights, are important to Israel. We can hope these values duplicate themselves throughout the Middle East.”
Bacardi 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, saying:
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 Congress, or at least 75% 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. … I also go back and I think Jewish community was there most times, many times, hand in hand with the Uncle Toms during the Civil Rights movement.
Black AIPAC activist working to undermine Cornel West on Palestine
Rania Khalek, Electronic Intifada, Jun 29 2016
I went on the Benjamin Dixon Show on Tuesday to discuss a letter said to have been signed by 60 Black politicians across the country urging the Democrat Party’s platform committee co-chairs to uphold one-sided pro-Israel positions. You can watch the video of the interview above. According to CNN, the letter was meant as a “counterpoint to [Cornel] West, a prominent member of the Black community.” West has been using his position on the platform committee to blast the Democrat Party for its disregard for Palestinian lives. Video footage of West’s impassioned interventions at the hearings and the debates they have inspired have gone viral. Those named to the committee by Sanders introduced an amendment calling for an end to Israel’s occupation and settlements and elevating Palestinian rights. It was voted down by committee members appointed by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. The letter, which was posted online by the “Progressive Army” following my interview with Dixon, was an apparent attempt by the Clinton wing of the party to undercut West’s influence and prevent any potential changes to the platform language to endorse Palestinian freedom. While CNN has reported that the letter was signed by 60 Black politicians, none has been identified, and the only name that appears on the version published by the Progressive Army is that of the letter’s author. It was written by Bacardi Sellers, a former South Carolina state representative and dedicated Clinton surrogate. Sellers is also identified by the news channel as a “CNN commentator.” In the letter, Sellers combines typical pro-Israel talking points with hawkish statements made by Clinton to insist:
Unwavering support of the state of Israel be clearly articulated in the 2016 Democrat platform.
He also equates the BDS movement with bigotry, agreeing with Clinton that the party must be “unified” in combating BDS:
Since the last platform was approved, anti-Semitism has been on the rise and it has taken a new form – the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement known as BDS.
If Sellers’ assertion looks like it was crafted by the Israel lobby, that’s because it was. Sellers serves on the national council of AIPAC. Sellers was among the first wave of student leaders from historically Black colleges to be recruited by the Israel lobby as part of a broader strategy to counter growing support for Palestinian rights among young people of colour. AIPAC recruited him in 2004 after he was elected student body president of Morehouse College, the historically Black institution in Atlanta, Georgia from which MLK graduated. Bacardi Sellers was a symbolic catch for AIPAC. His father, Cleveland Sellers, was a leading member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the 1960s civil rights group that, ironically enough, the Israel lobby accused of “inciting primitive anti-White and anti-Jewish sentiments” for its solidarity with Palestinians in 1967. After being elected to the South Carolina legislature, Bacardi Sellers credited AIPAC for his success. Sellers told an AIPAC event:
The way I’m able to communicate, the exposure, the people that I’ve met. A lot of people I’ve met at the AIPAC policy conference became a huge part of my fundraising base.
He has continued to work closely with AIPAC since then, even posting this image of himself with Sheldon Adelson.
Sellers has also been happy to promote AIPAC and its positions:
Based on some of the reactions to Sellers’ letter, it appears AIPAC’s and Clinton’s cynical identity politicking is destined to fail.
Sellers has agreed to debate me on the Benjamin Dixon Show, though a date has not yet been confirmed. It should be interesting.