[Ed. note – We are seeing a major split in the Democratic Party’s platform drafting committee between Sanders supporters on the one hand and delegates backing Clinton on the other. The main disagreement seems to be over the Israel-Palestine issue, although fracking, single-payer health care, and a $15 an hour minimum wage have also been bones of contention.
The video above features an interview with journalist Rania Khalek, who has been covering the discussions, and whose article on the subject can be accessed here. The person referred to in the interview as “Bakari” is Bakari Sellers, an African-American who formerly served in the South Carolina State Legislature and has also done commentaries on CNN.
Sellers organized 60 African-American politicians around the country to sign onto a letter opposing any mention of settlements or occupation in the party’s platform (which in effect would mean retaining the same language adopted by the party in 2012), while additionally specifically stating opposition to BDS:
Anti-Semitism has been on the rise and it has taken a new form — the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement 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.
The move was widely seen as an attempt to politically undermine Cornell West, a Sanders-appointed delegate who has been an ardent champion of Palestinian rights.
While Sellers apparently isn’t too bothered by Israeli apartheid, ironically you can go here to read a commentary he wrote for CNN praising removal of the Confederate flag from the state capital building in South Carolina last year (I wonder if he doesn’t think the Israeli flag means the same thing for Palestinians that the Confederate flag once meant to American blacks?). Additionally, you can go here to read about Seller’s arrest for DUI in 2013, an arrest in which, while in custody, he reportedly refused to take a breathalyzer test.
There’s also commentary on the platform debate from the perspective of one of the Clinton-appointed delegates. In an article published at Politico, Carol Browner, former Clinton administration EPA administrator, complains about positions taken by Sanders delegates, accusing them of “setting up a litmus test for what it takes to be ‘serious’ about climate change,” while significantly making no mention of the confrontation over Palestine. Maybe she hopes the issue simply will go away.
If the official Democratic Party platform ends up expressing opposition to the BDS movement–and there are indications that things are headed in that direction–it would be a major victory for the Israeli lobby.
Of the platform committee’s 15 members, five were appointed by Sanders, six by Clinton, and four by party Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a staunch Israel supporter. ]