Black student leader disinvited from AIPAC for opposing Hillary Clinton

A Black student leader says AIPAC disinvited him from its conference after the Israel lobby group learned he had previously taken part in a protest against Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.

The powerful Israel lobby group AIPAC has disinvited a youth leader from a major Black civil rights organization from its annual conference.

Da’Shaun Harrison, 19, is the vice president of the NAACP chapter at Morehouse College, the historically Black institution in Atlanta, Georgia, from which Martin Luther King Jr. graduated.

Harrison had his invitation to attend the conference revoked after AIPAC learned that he participated in an October protest against Hillary Clinton and that he supports Palestinian rights.

For years AIPAC, the most influential arm of the Israel lobby on Capitol Hill, has been recruiting students from historically Black colleges in an effort to counter growing support for Palestinian rights among young people of color.

Presidential frontrunners, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, both of whom are scheduled to speak at AIPAC’s conference, have attracted protests on the campaign trail from young Black activists involved in the movement to end state-sanctioned racial violence.

Harrison spoke to The Electronic Intifada about how AIPAC rescinded his invitation.

Based on Harrison’s account, it appears AIPAC is protecting Clinton and Trump by probing the activist histories of its Black student recruits, effectively shielding the candidates from the risk of dissent.

AIPAC has been similarly diligent in ensuring its conference is free of reporters critical of Israeli policy, as several openly adversarial journalists, including this writer, have been denied press credentials without reason.

In striking contrast, there are no reports of AIPAC subjecting members of pro-Israel Jewish groups to preemptive bans despite their publicized plans to protest Trump during his AIPAC speech.

AIPAC did not respond to a request for comment about Harrison’s exclusion.


Harrison says he was invited to AIPAC by an acquaintance from the Georgia chapter of the NAACP, who reached out to student leaders at historically Black colleges in the area on AIPAC’s behalf.

Harrison is well versed on the question of Palestine and is critical of Israel’s denial of Palestinian freedom, positions he credits to studying under intellectuals including Marc Lamont Hill, a Morehouse professor of African American studies who has been an outspoken advocate for Palestinian rights.

Harrison said that after reflection, he decided to accept AIPAC’s invitation and use the free trip as an opportunity to challenge his pro-Israel peers “on what it means to be Black students who are against racial injustices against ourselves” while being “pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian.”

His plans came to a crashing halt on Thursday when he got a phone call from an AIPAC representative interrogating him about his intentions.

Harrison declined to name the AIPAC representative, saying, “I don’t want this to be about an individual. This is about an establishment that openly backs the genocide of Palestinians and denies folks access to their conference due to opposing thoughts and fears.”

According to Harrison’s recollection, the AIPAC representative told him, “I heard from various people here that you have opposing views with Ms. Clinton and that you were a part of a group who disrupted her.”

Harrison was alarmed to learn that the man had apparently called his school and the NAACP acquaintance who invited him to the conference, asking probing questions about his activism.

“That’s just weird,” Harrison said.

He felt as though he was under surveillance.

Citing the protests at Trump’s campaign rallies, the AIPAC representative went on to ask Harrison if he intended to disrupt any of the presidential candidates attending the conference.

All presidential contenders are scheduled to speak at AIPAC except for Clinton’s Democratic Party competitor Bernie Sanders, who turned down the group’s invitation to appear in person.

AIPAC rejected Sanders’ offer to speak via video link, despite the fact that it has allowed other presidential candidates to do so in previous years and will allow Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu do so so this year.

While Harrison insisted he had no intention of protesting, for the sake of transparency, he noted that he supported Palestinian rights and the conference was not going to change his mind. He was simply going for the experience, not to protest.

The AIPAC representative told Harrison he needed to consult with his colleagues. A few minutes later he called back to tell Harrison it was best that he not come to the conference, though he awkwardly extended an invitation for Harrison to participate in a future propaganda trip to Israel.

“I laughed and said I think this is very silly, me not being allowed to be in a space because of a disruption that has nothing to do with this conference,” Harrison said.

Protesting Hillary

“There’s no reason that Hillary Clinton should be at AIPAC while Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are there as well,” Harrison told The Electronic Intifada.

“Actually, I don’t think there’s a big difference between Hillary and Trump,” he then added. “Trump represents 1960s racism and she represents today’s quiet racism.”

It was this disdain for Clinton’s record on race that spurred Harrison to help organize the protest that got him disinvited from the AIPAC conference.

Back in October, during a campaign event in Atlanta, Harrison joined with a coalition of Black student activists from historically Black colleges called AUC Shut It Down to confront Hillary Clinton about her atrocious record on criminal justice.

“The Hillary action came from a group of us understanding her track record of advocating against Black and brown folks via the death penalty, three-strikes rule, mass incarceration and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Harrison said.

“Black Lives Matter has become a prop in this election,” Harrison added, referring to the protest movement that arose after a series of high-profile police and vigilante killings of young Black men and women.

“Black pain should not be exploited or capitalized on, yet Hillary has been using the moms of Black teens who have been shot and killed as an endorsement,” he said.

The students expected to receive overwhelming support from those in attendance, but the opposite happened.

The room was incredibly hostile. Police tried to drag them out as “Hillary supporters were in our faces shouting at us to let her speak,” Harrison said.

But that wasn’t the worst of it for him.

“What hurt most,” Harrison said, was seeing Representative John Lewis of Georgia “trying to physically remove us. When he recognized we weren’t going to leave, he went and stood behind Hillary to show his support for her.”

Lewis’ prominent leadership role in the civil rights movement as a student, including organizing the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches alongside Martin Luther King Jr., was depicted in Ava DuVernay’s award-winning 2014 feature film Selma.

“You’re raised to see John Lewis as a civil rights icon,” said Harrison. “We did the same thing he would have done in his time. So to see him go against us, it was eye opening, but also very hurtful.”

The backlash from Clinton supporters after the action was punishing, with some students receiving death threats, according to Harrison.

Until the AIPAC debacle, Harrison assumed the backlash was behind him. But it turns out that protesting the former secretary of state, much like protesting Israel, may come with long-lasting consequences.




There is little to choose from in this election and Hillary Clinton's support for Israel's brutal occupation and oppression of the Palestinians is a major stumbling block for all of those who resent our politicians pandering to the small but powerful AIPAC influence on our country's foreign policy. There was a time years ago when she stood up to the mistreatment of Palestinian women and children but those days seem to have departed her politics.


Maggie, I don't think she's a different person and I believe she would probably still like to bring justice to Palestine but she has calculated, apparently correctly, that such ambitions are politically suicidal, especially at so high a level. Sadly the choices seem worse than ever. Sanders has expressed some willingness to wag the dog and Trump has promised to be a fair broker and resolve the problem but Trump is just too unfathomably________, pick you adjective and Sanders would get even less help from Congress than Obama did. Perhaps we should just be grateful that Cruz's chances seem pretty low, he's simply fund the genocide with a smile.
We need a political revolution indeed!


But where is Hillary Clinton's sense of decency? Lost for campaign contributions? I will vote for her because there is no other choice, but I find her obsequiousness to Israel to be a major character flaw. She will, no doubt, send more of our taxpayers' billions to Israel and she will continue to protect Israel's war crimes in the UN. When will a politician challenge AIPAC? Even the tough talking Donald Trump, who says he will be a tough negotiator and will war with the whole world, went to his knees yesterday for Israel.


I was also deeply hurt when I heard my civil rights hero stand for Hillary. It was a complete shock . I considered him a "living saint. " she has no legislation that has her name on it from her years in the Senate. Her Kissingeresque actions increased US hatred abroad.
Sanders has a long list of legislation to his name and has worked across the aisle. Contrary to the comments above, he will be able to get things done. Hillary is a front for monies interests.


Emily, you may be right and Bernie would find just as much traction as Hillary, I don't know. I know that we have a very primitive electorate and many men and women too, do not give a woman the same latitude when judging their character. Also, as is the case with anyone not a white male and therefore outside our default confidence wiring, that person has to try twice as hard to establish themselves. I always keep that in mind and in the context of this AIPAC embarrassment, while I do appreciate Bernie not attending, I have to remind myself the his Jewishness helps him against criticism.
Obama has been heavily criticised by the left throughout his terms for capitulating and I think for similar reasons to Hillary's, he deserves more consideration because if he didn't even try to gain conservative support for initiatives he would have been even more criticized all around by colleagues who found themselves with no political capital or good arguments to support what they could.
I want to follow my heart on this too but my head tells me to keep a broad perspective and to be patient in the face of innumerable challenges in an environment of fear and ignorance.


Bernie Sanders has languished on the government payroll for decades and all he has to show for his long years in Congress are two pieces of legislation naming post offices in Vermont. He's useless. Hillary Clinton, despite her humming AIPAC's song, is the only chance we have of having a Democrat retain the White House. Truth is, Middle America elects our presidents, not the far right or the far left. She can win Middle America and she can work with a Republican House. Bernie Sanders cannot win a national election. A recent poll showed 57% of Democrats won't vote for a Socialist. They simply will not accept the rate of taxation required to fund his promises. Still, we have to stay on Hillary Clinton to be more fair and equitable in the Palestinian issue. The vast majority of Americans do not like seeing Israel and Saudi Arabia capture billions and billions of our tax dollars each year.


The fact is Hillary Clinton (convicted or not) is a war criminal. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, whatever their merits (or lack thereof) are not, at least not yet.

Perhaps those arguing support for her may not have any ethical standards; however, many of us do. Hillary is the worst of the three for many reasons besides her criminal history. She is also the most corrupt of the three.

Fortunately there are other choices. Among them is Gloria La Riva. Feel free to check out Gloria's campaign's site at



John Lewis hasn't been a purported hero since he marched with MLK, a relationship and experience from which he has handsomely benefited.


Hope Mr. Harrison will hold his back straight and will not bow to blackmail.
Wish him strength in supporting (Palestinan) human rights.


I am so sorry. It hurts me to read that he did not show you any support.


Does Bernie Sanders get any credit for making a speech that criticized Israel for violating Palestinian human rights at about the same time this AIPAC conference was going on? Surely his deviation from mainstream political speech on this issue is not going to get him a lot votes, yet he said it anyway. Does that mean anything to anybody except for the people who will vote against him for saying anything other than the AIPAC party line?


I was only concerned about Sanders' beliefs with regard to Palestine when I considered supporting his run for office. His other platforms on every other issue were right in line with mine. I may want him to be a little more active in speaking out against Israel's actions against Palestine, but I understand how this could disable his candidacy.
Yes, this is a very important subject to me as a voter and I give him great credit for going as far as he has! I believe it takes some measure of courage and goodwill to be doing so.


Bernie Sanders has all the right qualities.... I'm with him for the long haul.
I love how he talks truth to Israel..and EQUALITY FOR PALESTINIANS!! Vital for me.

Rania Khalek

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Rania Khalek is an independent journalist reporting on the underclass and marginalized.