Jewish, Pro-Israel Groups Protest Bernie Sanders’ Hiring of Adviser Who Once Denounced Zionism as ‘Racist, Exclusionary Ideology’
Jewish and pro-Israel groups on Tuesday condemned Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ decision to hire a radical activist with a long history of vitriolic anti-Israel statements as a senior adviser.
Phillip Agnew, a co-founder of the Dream Defenders group, was hired as a senior adviser to the Sanders campaign last Saturday, with Sanders saying, “He is a gifted organizer and one of his generation’s most critical voices on issues of race and inequity.”
B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin took a different view, saying in a statement on Tuesday, “We call on presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to terminate his campaign’s relationship with Phillip Agnew.”
“Agnew’s activist organization, Dream Defenders, has promoted to children the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which has been a US-designated terrorist organization since 1997,” they noted, “and is a proponent of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”
“Agnew’s so-called ‘rebellion curriculum,’ which is aimed at children in 6th to 11th grade, refers to Israel as ‘occupied Palestine’ and speaks approvingly of the goals of creating a communist party and liberating ‘Palestine,’” they pointed out.
“It is unacceptable that someone with this history of antisemitic and pro-terrorism statements was given a role on any presidential campaign,” they asserted.
We call on presidential candidate @BernieSanders to terminate his campaign’s relationship with @iPhilSomething, named this week as a senior adviser to Sanders. It is unacceptable that someone with a history of #antisemitic statements was given this role. https://t.co/IBFo8NY73x
— B’nai B’rith Int’l (@BnaiBrith) March 10, 2020
The Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) also weighed in, asking, “How can @BernieSanders unify the country when he appoints officials to his campaign who spew hateful, misogynist, and bigoted views? And why does Sanders refuse to disassociate himself even from their hateful statements?”
How can @BernieSanders unify the country when he appoints officials to his campaign who spew hateful, misogynist, and bigoted views? And why does Sanders refuse to disassociate himself even from their hateful statements? https://t.co/JvzCE6O4gD
— Democratic Majority for Israel (@DemMaj4Israel) March 9, 2020
Agnew’s defamatory attitude toward the Jewish state is not new. In a June 2015 article in Ebony, Agnew described a trip to what he called “Palestine,” saying, “What I saw there was cold, calculating racism and ethnic privilege masquerading as a Jewish State.”
Referring to then-President Barack Obama’s comparison of Zionism to the US civil rights movement, Agnew claimed Zionism was a “racist, exploitative, and exclusionary ideology; its eagerness to attack and silence detractors is only matched by its eagerness to co-opt the struggles of Blacks in this country (by a Black in this country) for its own survival.”
In a 2012 tweet, he stated, “America continues to support the murderous occupation of Palestine. Today’s ‘Zion’ is Hell on Earth for millions.”
Agnew has also shown an intense anti-Americanism in his statements, tweeting in 2016, “America is hate-founded, hate-legislated, hate-sponsored, hate-endorsed, hate-filled.”
Referring to a radical Islamist’s homophobia-motivated shooting attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, Agnew said, “Just clarifying who to blame. It isn’t radical Islam and it wasn’t those people in the club. It is us. We spread this hate.”
He also appears to be a believer in 9/11 conspiracy theories, saying on Sept. 10, 2010, “Tomorrow America remembers the day that she turned on herself, dismantled her constitution, and killed her own citizens in the name of money.”
Agnew also caused controversy for sexist tweets against former First Lady Michelle Obama, tweeting in 2009, “Michel [sic] Obama is an odd looking woman… I’d call her ugly but I don’t want the backlash.”
He subsequently tweeted, “Michelle Obama is just not pretty… I’ve tried to look at her from every angle possible.”