Gillum's Ties to Anti-Israel Radicals More Extensive Than Previously Known

Candidate's former employer tied to anti-Israel groups, sponsored event with terror-tied group

Andrew Gillum
Andrew Gillum / Getty Images
November 1, 2018

Democratic Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum's ties to radical anti-Israel groups are more extensive than previously reported, according to information obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Gillum, who is running in a hotly contested race against Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), has connections to several organizations that have sponsored anti-Israel events and promoted the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, an anti-Semitic movement that wages economic warfare on the Jewish state.

Gillum's ties to these groups stand in contrast to his comments on the campaign trail attempting to distance himself from the most radical, anti-Israel elements of the progressive movement.

Gillum's ties to such groups have set him apart from DeSantis, who has been firmly pro-Israel in Congress and has vowed to block Israel boycotts as Florida's governor. The state is home to a large contingent of Jewish voters, who could help tip the vote in DeSantis' favor.

One pro-BDS group, Dream Defenders, has publicly endorsed Gillum, calling him one of the "most progressive" candidates in the country.

Dream Defenders, a Florida-based advocacy group that has emerged as a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement, supports efforts to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, and is intertwined with backers of the BDS movement, which has made common cause with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Dream Defenders often criticizes Israel for perpetuating what it claims is a "genocide" of the Palestinians. It also has led at least "two delegations to Palestine" in recent years, according to the organization's website.

"Palestine is the site of a continued settler colonial project, the state of Israel," Dream Defenders writes on its website, employing language used by many anti-Israel groups to delegitimize Israel. "The colonial project was born out of a political ideology called Zionism, established in the late 19th century."

While Gillum has stated that he is loosely affiliated with Dream Defenders, the group's founder, Phillip Agnew considers Gillum "part of the movement."

"I met Andrew Gillum while I was a student leader at Florida A&M University," Agnew stated in an August interview. "I wound up being student body president. And Andrew Gillum, who had been student body president, had also run and become the youngest commissioner in the city of Tallahassee at that point. His office was right off of campus. And it was in 2003, after seeing posters of millions of people who had descended on Tallahassee, led by Andrew Gillum as a student leader in the Arrive with Five march for affirmative action, that I really learned that the role as a student leader at Florida A&M is not one that is just concerned with the campus, but you are concerned with the lives of the people of the state of Florida. And Andrew taught me that in 2003."

"So, in 2012," Agnew continued, "when we started this organization, it is really with a model of what Andrew has led for many, many years in the state. We like to say Andrew Gillum isn't a friend of the movement, he is a part of the movement."

On one of its 2016 trips to the region, Dream Defenders employed convicted terrorist Mahmoud Jeddah as a tour guide. Jeddah, a onetime member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—a U.S.-designated terror organization—spent 17 years in an Israeli prison for planting four hand grenades on a Jerusalem street, wounding nine civilians. He was later released in a prisoner swap.

Additionally, Gillum worked for over a decade at People for the American Way, or PFAW, an organization backed by liberal billionaire George Soros.

Since Gillum's departure in January 2017, PFAW has gone on to sponsor at least one anti-Israel event alongside Samidouan, a pro-Palestinian organization that advocates for imprisoned terrorists and is tied to notorious terrorist group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or PFLP, according to new information obtained by the Free Beacon.

In late 2017, PFAW signed on to a "Global Day of Action" campaign organized by Samidoun, which describes Israel as an apartheid state, advocates in favor of BDS, and represents Palestinian terrorists who are currently imprisoned for their crimes.

PFAW is one of numerous organizations that supported Samidoun's Global Day of Action, which took place in November 2017 and was meant to protest "against Walls of oppression, from Palestine to the U.S.-Mexico border."

The anti-Israel rally protested "Israel's apartheid Wall on Palestinian land" and the "thousands of deaths every year," according to Samidoun.

In addition to its work on behalf of Palestinian prisoners, Samidoun has been accused of obfuscating its ties to the PFLP. The group has also come under fire for defending Palestinian terrorists who have murdered Jewish civilians.

Gillum's ties to PFAW and other organizations backing Israel boycotts are raising questions with pro-Israel voters in Florida as they head to the polls next week to cast a vote in the hotly contested and narrow election.

"This news further demonstrates how Andrew Gillum regularly and proudly surrounds himself with anti-Semites who offer him political support but do not believe Israel has a right to exist," the DeSantis campaign said in a statement.

The Free Beacon previously reported Gillum has supported and attended the Rockwood Leadership Institute, an organization financed by the New Israel Fund, a promoter of Israel boycotts and materials maligning the Jewish state.

One alum of the institute is Linda Sarsour, a prominent anti-Israel activist who has disseminated anti-Semitic materials and has been labeled by pro-Israel organizations as a chief promoter of the BDS movement.

DeSantis has set himself apart from Gillum on the Israel issue.

He remains a vehement critic of BDS movement and is the co-author of legislation that will protect American businesses from being pressured into backing Israel boycotts.

A request for comment to the Gillum campaign was not returned by press time.