Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has appointed a leading backer of boycotts against Israel to a spot on the Democratic National Committee group that will write the party’s platform, according to press reports.
Sanders has appointed Cornel West, a liberal academic who has come out in support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement targeting Israel, to a spot on the DNC’s Platform Drafting Committee, which is tasked with finalizing the party’s platform.
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The Democratic Party nearly fissured in 2012 over language in the platform backing Israel. A larger portion of the party’s delegates sought to remove the pro-Israel language, prompting an internal fight.
Sanders also has appointed to the platform committee Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.), another opponent of pro-Israel policies.
Sanders has aligned himself with several backers of the BDS movement, which is widely viewed as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic in nature. The candidate was forced to fire his Jewish outreach director earlier this year after it emerged that she backed the BDS movement and had criticized Israel in overly harsh terms.
In addition to supporting Israel boycotts, West has criticized President Barack Obama for aligning himself too closely with wealthy Jewish people.
"He feels most comfortable with upper middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart, very savvy and very effective in getting what they want," West was quoted as saying in an interview.
"I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men," he said.