Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) on Monday picked two critics of Israel to be members of the Democratic Party Platform Drafting Committee, amid reports that Sanders wants the platform to focus on Palestinian rights.
Cornel West, a philosopher and social activist, supports the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. West has called the Gaza Strip “the hood on steroids” and wrote that the crimes of the Palestinian terror group Hamas “pale in the face of the U.S.-supported Israeli slaughter of innocent civilians.”
Sanders’s other appointment, James Zogby, is president of the Arab American Institute non-profit, an organization known to be critical of Israel and mainstream pro-Israel groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In March, Zogby wrote for the Huffington Post that AIPAC-supported anti-BDS bills on the federal and state levels “have the effect of making the U.S. a collaborator in Israel’s violations of international law by protecting Israeli settlements that have been illegally placed in occupied Palestinian lands.”
Sanders also chose U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim elected to Congress, for the platform drafting committee. His Democratic primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, named six committee members and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, named four.
This is not the first time Sanders has chosen rabid anti-Israel activists to join his team. In April, he hired Simone Zimmerman, a woman known for her blatant anti-Israel stance, for his campaign’s director of outreach. The nomination received heavy criticism, however, forcing Sanders to rescind his offer and suspend Zimmerman.
Ariella Mendlowitz contributed to this report.