Black AIPAC activist working to undermine Cornel West on Palestine

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 Democratic 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” 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.

AIPAC operative

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.


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