Lobby Watch 29 June 2016
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” who was appointed to the platform committee by Bernie Sanders.
An outspoken supporter of the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, West has been using his position on the platform committee to blast the Democratic 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 presumptive Democratic presidential nominee 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 Bakari 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 that “unwavering support of the state of Israel be clearly articulated in the 2016 Democratic platform.”
He also equates the Palestinian-led movement to pressure Israel into respecting Palestinian rights with bigotry.
“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,” Sellers writes, agreeing with Clinton that the party must be “unified” in combatting 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, the most influential Israel lobbying group on Capitol Hill.
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 color.
AIPAC recruited him in 2004 after he was elected student body president of Morehouse College, the historically Black institution in Atlanta, Georgia, from which Martin Luther King Jr. graduated.
Sellers was a symbolic catch for AIPAC: his father, Cleveland Sellers, was a leading member of the Student Nonviolent 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, Bakari Sellers credited AIPAC for his success.
“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,” Sellers told an AIPAC event.
He has continued to work closely with AIPAC since then, even posting this image of himself with Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul and Republican mega-donor who is one of the biggest funders of anti-Palestinian activism.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.
- Bakari Sellers
- Cornel West
- Bernie Sanders
- Hillary Clinton
- 2016 US presidential election
- Morehouse College
- Martin Luther King
- Benjamin Dixon
Permalink tom hall replied on
The reasoning behind the letter is so obvious. The Democratic Party establishment didn't hear Cornell West- they just saw his skin. So they went out and bought some skins of their own- anonymous ones at that. Excellent interview on the Benjamin Dixon Show, Rania. If Bakari Sellers turns up to debate this issue, please post it for us.
And the photos with the Adelsons and Elizabeth Warren are priceless.
The old shill game
Permalink John Costello replied on
Clinton’s platformers are taking a page right out of the GOP play book. Whenever they find themselves losing a battle for hearts and minds in a war that should be waged with ideas, they look for a way to tear our hearts from our minds. If someone is getting their ideas across on affirmative action or immigration or the need to put more into public schools or police brutality and the biased criminal justice system, they find a black person, of their persuasion (or one willing to be) and they trot them out in front of the cameras to show the public that some of their best friends are black and the fact is that their congressmen and constituencies are only coincidently 90+% white.
But it’s not only the deceptiveness that’s wrong and corrupting, it’s that by shifting away from ideas, with their tokenism and hence making the war about race (or sex/persuasion) they are teaching bigotry and hypocrisy.
I’m a Barack Obama fan and I don’t like West sometimes when he lays into him for things he can’t change himself but I am repulsed by this move to manipulate public opinion away from West’s ideas and instead diminish him (and Sellers) by insinuating that if two black men have opposing ideas, they simply cancel each other out because after all, they are both black. Now if they could find a white guy, to battle West, that would be different, because they’re different colors, so it’s about ideas again.
But the fact is they can’t find a white guy or any color guy who can deal with West and his ideas.
What's driving Bakari
Permalink Carl Zaisser replied on
Bakari is just thinking of his own political climb...not his conscience. He obviously needs to read more of the history of the long, long process of Zionism and Israel driving the Palestinians out of their homeland. In the meantime, I am sure he is enjoying all the photo-ops with Democratic party 'big' wigs...even with that 'sometimes' liberal Elizabeth Warren who seems to be a rising star in Hillary's constellation. Reminds me of a very funny, yet sad, comment Groucho Marx once said (the film escapes my memory): "These are my values; if you don't like them, I have others."
Permalink Zionism Is Not Judaism replied on
Yet another career opportunist who does the bidding of those he perceives will take him to the Land of Instant Gratification and Gelt.
Mark 8:36: For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Is there anything new in this?
So disappointed in Bakari..
Permalink Maria replied on
So disappointed in Bakari...what a shame.