Sanders reps to push party towards Palestinians

Sanders representatives chosen to help draft party platform demand Democratic Party use clout to pursue 'justice for Palestinians'.

David Rosenberg,

Cornel West
Cornel West
Reuters/Mark Kauzlarich

While former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is now all but assured the Democratic nomination this summer, her rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders says the political revolution is far from over. As some Democratic officials fear, Sanders’ claim may be more than an idle threat to the party establishment.

Because of his performance in the Democratic nominating process, Sanders has been awarded 5 of the 15 seats at the party platform drafting committee; the body which sets the official agenda for the Democratic National Committee and 2016 presidential election campaign.

Sanders looks to push the party to the left on a variety of issues, but has also placed an emphasis on the Israeli-Arab conflict. Two of Sanders’ five representatives – Cornel West and James Zogby – are outspoken opponents of the Jewish state.

On Wednesday the two announced their intentions to use the Democratic platform drafting committee to shift the party away from support for Israel – and towards the Palestinians.

West decried what he described as the “occupation”, demanding the party take an active role in ending Israeli control over Judea and Samaria.

“Justice for Palestinians cannot be attained without the lifting of the occupation,” West said, drawing attention to what he called “the plight of an occupied people”, the New York Times reported.

West, who teaches philosophy at the Union Theological Seminary, has a history of abrasive comments towards Israel, and has been a vocal supporter of the BDS movement.

In an interview with Salon, West said the Israeli “occupation” of Judea and Samaria must be terminated.

“It’s ugly, it’s vicious, it’s brutal, and it needs to not just be brought to attention, it needs to be brought to an end.”

West brushed off criticism of his stance as “Zionist critiques”, and compared the Gaza Strip to Nazi concentration camp and drawing parallels to racism in the West.

“[T]here is no doubt that Gaza is not just a ‘kind of’ concentration camp, it is the hood on steroids.”

For his part, Zogby, founder of the Arab American Institute, also has a history of vicious anti-Israel rhetoric, abuse of the legacy of the Holocaust, and tropes aimed at Jewish supporters of Israel.

In a 2010 Huffington Post article, Zogby compared Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria to the Nazi Holocaust.

An early supporter of the BDS movement, Zogby himself organized boycotts of businesses with branches in Israel.

In the past, Zogby has as suggested that Israeli influence was behind America’s involvement in the Iraq War, and has smeared some American Jews as “Israel firsters”.