DNC delegates support Palestinian rights, even if Democrat Party doesn’t
Nora Barrows-Friedman, Electronic Intifada, Jul 27 2016
Human rights activists converged in Philadelphia this week to campaign for Palestinian rights during the Democratic National Convention (DNC). While Hillary Clinton secured the party’s presidential nomination, activists attended alternative events and organized Palestine solidarity actions. Clinton has promised to bolster the Pindo alliance with Israel. The party and its nominee have vowed to continue supporting Israel with billions more in aid every year, while cracking down on the BDS campaign. Meanwhile, on the convention floor, Rania Khalek says that many delegates have been holding signs and wearing stickers in support of Palestinian rights, challenging the traditional liberal framework of “progressive except for Palestine.” For supporters of Clinton’s defeated rival Bernie Sanders, “there’s no difference between the importance of supporting free college education and universal healthcare and Palestinian rights,” Khalek said. The support was so visible that hardline Israel supporter Rabbi Shmuley Boteach complained about it on Twitter:
Khalek said party officials have been “policing” Sanders delegates who hold signs supporting Palestinian rights, even tearing some down because the signs “are not DNC approved. Which I guess is true, because Palestinian rights are not DNC-approved. We saw that in the Democrat platform committee: supporting Palestinian freedom and rights is not on the agenda of the Democrat Party.” During her run for president, Clinton’s policies “have become progressively worse when it comes to Palestinian rights,” Josh Ruebner, policy director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, told EI. On Monday, Ruebner’s group organized events on Palestinian human rights and a panel discussion with activists and member of Congress Keith Ellison to discuss US policy on Israel. Ruebner said:
The visible support on the convention floor signals a change for the better among the grass-roots of the Democrat party, which is becoming more and more supportive of Palestinian rights. As state and federal lawmakers continue to drive anti-BDS legislation across the country, Clinton has jumped on the bandwagon in condemnation of the BDS campaign. However, activists will continue to organize despite the current and future legislation, which will no doubt be challenged in the courts. It must be clear to all Palestine solidarity activists that the government can impose no conditions or restrictions on our First Amendment right to freedom of expression to organize for and to advocate for campaigns of BDS.
Meanwhile, activists are gearing up to pressure whoever becomes the next president on the issue of Palestinians’ rights. Jennifer Bing of the Pindo Friends Service Committee told EI that activists will put Hillary Clinton’s lauded history of acting on behalf of children “to the test” when it comes to advocating for Palestinian children. In partnership with Defense for Children Palestine, FSC has been running the No Way to Treat a Child campaign, which pressures Pindosi Congress critturs to protect the rights of Palestinian children, especially those in Israeli military detention. Last month, the No Way to Treat a Child campaign worked with 20 Democrat Congress critturs to send a letter to Obama, calling on him to send a “clear signal” to Palestinian children that their lives are valued. Bing said:
I think there is always going to be an opening. I’m optimistic because I think when we talk about children, when we talk about the future, no matter where you are politically, right or left, it’s at least a way to start the conversation.
DNC’s leaked emails expose corrupt funding practices within the Democrat Party
Isaac Finn, WSWS, Jul 27 2016
The release of roughly 20,000 internal Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails by WikiLeaks exposes the methods that the Democrat Party utilizes in order to raise funds, dole out privileges and cover up their dirty dealings. One of the schemes included the creation of the Hillary Victor Fund (HVF), which appealed for hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions for Hillary Clinton through extravagant fund-raisers. The fund included 40 state Democrat Party committees and could accept checks as large as $436,100, with individuals limited to $10k per state party, $33,400 for the DNC and $2,700 for Clinton’s campaign. The fund in effect worked to funnel money into the Clinton campaign and the DNC. According to Politico’s analysis of the Federal Elections Commission records, between the creation of the fund in September and the end of last month, it brought in $142m, with 44% ending up in the DNC and Hillary for Pindostan, with state parties keeping less than $800k, or 0.56%. As a result of campaign finance laws, these practices are at best legally questionable, and at worst criminal. Legally a donor would be allowed to give a maximum contribution of $5,400 to Clinton per election cycle, $33,400 to the DNC per year, and $10k to each state committee in the fund per year. If a wealthy donor had already given $33,400 to the DNC, and then gave a substantial contribution to the HVF, which the fund funneled back into the DNC, he or she would essentially have donated more money to the DNC than is allowed. This situation is particularly problematic since Clinton and others associated with her campaign claimed the fund was primarily to aid local Democrats. The leaked email exchanges show the effort of leading members of the DNC to cover up the fact that funds were not being allocated to state parties. In an email chain from late April, leading DNC members including Communications Director Luis Miranda and Deputy Communications Director Eric Walker discussed how to deal with a Politico journalist inquiring about funds being sent back to the DNC. In the end, Miranda writes:
There’s been no coverage [of funds going back to the DNC] that we’ve found, which is what we wanted.
In May, following claims by Politico and Bernie Sanders that HVF was a form of “money-laundering,” officials from the DNC and Clinton campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin worked together to draft a response to these allegations. Miranda specifically ran a proposal to write a brief comment stating that HVF was not laundering money, and told Schwerin:
Since it’s your HVF, we want to make sure you guys are good with it, and with the push back.
In the leaked emails, Miranda and Schwerin also work out a number of key points to argue that the HVF is legal, including that “many millions have been raised for state parties and just haven’t been distributed to them yet” and that “experts have agreed there’s nothing unusual about the victory funds.” These points were also used by the DNC to claim that Sanders allegations were wrong, and the Clinton campaign also joined in to criticize him for not raising funds for the state parties. Other leaked emails expose the extent the DNC sought out large donors and created different packages to encourage donors to give more. The more a contributor gave to the DNC the more perks he or she could receive. As Max Marshall, the DNC’s southern finance director, explained to one wealthy donor in May:
You currently qualify for the Main Line package! If were willing to contribute $33,400 we can bump you up a level to the Fairmont. Additionally, your generous contribution would allow you to attend a small roundtable we are having with Pres Obama in DC on May 18 or a dinner in NYC on Jun 8 (Invites also attached).
In some cases special exceptions were made, such as with multinational conglomerate Honeywell. The company was given a hotel room in Philadelphia for a contribution of $60k to the DNC’s convention host committee because, in the words of one DNC financial staffer, they are “the biggest PAC contributor in the country” and that the gesture would create better relations “with them for later in the election cycle and for years to come.” Another large donor, Shefali Razdan Duggal, also requested a variety of benefits for the money she was helping to raise, including an invitation to Vice Pres Biden’s holiday party. She stated in the email that she was working for the “Rittenhouse Convention package,” the top tier donors’ package. The package would require Duggal to raise $1.25m or personally give $467,600 between Jan 2015 and Jun 2016. This would provide the contributor with a premier hotel in Philadelphia for the DNC, VIP credentials and a campaign briefing with high-level Democrat officials. The frenzy to win larger donations eventually resulted in Ruthzee Louijeune, an associate from the DNC’s outside law firm Perkins Coie, requesting that DNC officials change the wording in the announcement of a round table discussion. Louijeune, who wrote to the DNC’s financial chief of staff in May, explained:
As you know, WH [the White House] policy restricts the use of language that gives the appearance that contributors can pay for policy access to the President.
In reality, however, the emails expose the fact that many of the wealthiest individuals could gain access to the president or other White House officials, as long as they worked out a deal with an official from the DNC and were willing to pay the right price. During the Democrat primaries, Sanders frequently raised the issue of Clinton’s ties to Wall Street and wealthy contributors. Since his recent endorsement of Clinton, Sanders has worked to portray Clinton as a great progressive, with the party as a whole moving towards the left. In order to do this, he has chosen to remain largely silent about the email leaks.