by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
CNN talking head Bakari Sellers is a mercenary for the rich and powerful, a veteran operative of the Israel lobby, and a receptacle for whatever words kings and queens of corruption like Hillary Clinton put in his mouth. It’s all part of Sellers’ upward mobility strategy. “He has eagerly deployed himself as one of Zionism’s Black up-and-coming political stars. In return, AIPAC has helped bankroll his political career.”
Bakari Sellers: Hitman for Israel, Hillary and Wall Street
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“Sellers was a real catch for AIPAC.”
Bakari Sellers, the 31 year-old former South Carolina state lawmaker who became a paid CNN shill for Hillary Clinton in 2015, following the Charleston massacre, is also a longtime operative for AIPAC, the deep-pocketted, cutthroat lobby for Israel. In a letter to Democratic Party officials, last month, Sellers claimed to have gathered the signatures of 60 “lifelong” Black Democrats urging rejection of any changes to the party’s slavishly pro-Israel 2012 platform positions, denouncing as “anti-Semitic” the global movement against Israeli oppression of Arabs in Palestine and the nearly 50-year-long occupation of the West Bank. “Since the last platform was approved, anti-Semitism has been on the rise and it has taken a new form – the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement known as BDS,” said the letter, much of which consisted of quotes from Hillary Clinton, including, “In Israel’s story, we see our own.” Clinton’s vision is clear, in one respect: the U.S. was once the largest of the world’s apartheid states; today, Israel is the last one standing.
Clinton’s minions on the platform committee brushed aside Bernie Sanders delegates’ planks on Israel, as well as the TPP pro-corporate trade deal, single payer healthcare, a carbon tax, and linking a $15 an hour minimum wage to inflation.
The names on Sellers’ list have not yet been made public, but there is no shortage of Black apologists for Israel. In 2014, the entire Congressional Black Caucus joined in a unanimous U.S. House resolution affirming the Zionist state’s right to “defend itself” – even as Israeli bombs were slaughtering over 2,100 men, women and children in Gaza.
“There is no shortage of Black apologists for Israel.”
Despite his relative youth, Bakari Sellers is a veteran operative for AIPAC, the American Israel Political Action Committee, Israel’s strong-arm lobby. According to the web site Electronic Intifada, Sellers was recruited back in 2004, when AIPAC had just begun a massive campaign at historically Black colleges and among even younger students of color, nationwide. Sellers was a real catch for AIPAC; not only had he just been elected student body president, he is also the son of Cleveland Sellers, a former leader of SNCC, the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee, who was wounded in the 1968 Orangeburg Massacre when state police killed three Black college students protesting segregation. The elder Sellers is now president of Voorhees College. SNCC’s stand in solidarity with Palestinians in 1967, the year of Israel’s Six Day War and its seizure of Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank, is widely believed to mark the beginning of the deepening split between Black political activists and Zionism.
Bakari Sellers’ service to AIPAC is a repudiation and perversion of SNCC’s internationalist and humanitarian values. He has eagerly deployed himself as one of Zionism’s Black up-and-coming political operatives. In return, AIPAC has helped bankroll his political career. “The way I’m able to communicate, the exposure, the people that I’ve met – a lot of people I’ve met at the AIPAC policy conference became a huge part of my fundraising base,” Sellers told an AIPAC leadership seminar for college students, in 2008.
Sellers has found that AIPAC money and Wall Street funding go hand in hand – and he’s in it up to his elbows. “Looking forward to giving the address tonight @Aipac Annual Wall Street Dinner in Manhattan,” he tweeted, mentally scooping up cash with both hands.
“Bakari Sellers’ service to AIPAC is a repudiation and perversion of SNCC’s internationalist and humanitarian values.”
A prime duty of white people’s – or Zionist’s – Black surrogates, is to act as torpedoes against troublesome Black activists. Sellers’ assignment is to be a counterpoint to anti-corporate, anti-imperialist critics of Israeli policy, like Dr. Cornel West, one of Bernie Sanders’ delegates on the platform committee. When CNN trotted Sellers out to defend Clinton’s 1990s record of spreading racist hysteria against Black male “super-predators,” West admonished him to remember “the legacy of your blessed father...look at his example. He was not just fighting against racism – he was fighting against a class system as well,” said West. “You can’t do that as a Wall Street Democrat.”
Sellers looked beaten, but he could not be shamed, because he and the rest of his Black Misleadership Class are utterly shameless in their relentless pursuit of favor from the rich and powerful. As Dr. West told Sellers, the Black political elite “confuses the gravy train with the freedom train.”
Back in the early 2000s, when the BAR team was working at The Black Commentator, we toyed with the idea of creating a Trojan Horse Watch to keep track of the growing number of Black politicians that were succumbing to the siren song of the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party, the Democratic Leadership Council. The flood of corporate money into local Black electoral politics – a new phenomenon – had not yet turned into a tsunami. One guy stood out above the rest: Cory Booker, the 31 year-old, one-term Newark, New Jersey, city councilman who was mounting his first challenge to Mayor Sharpe James. Booker made his national debut at a power luncheon of the Manhattan Institute, a star think tank in the right-wing, corporate constellation. He would sometimes arrive at campaign stops in a caravan of Hasidic Jews, although there was no significant Hasidic community in Newark. On deeper examination, it became clear that Booker was not your ordinary Black politician, grubbing for money as best he could, from whoever was giving it. Booker was a true zealot for Zionism, and a hard core corporate ideologue. The decades of leadership by a Black political class that chose the “gravy train” over the “freedom train” had produced a new breed of Black political striver that is totally at home with corporatism, imperialism and Zionism, and is eager to be deployed by his masters as a political weapon.
Bakari Sellers is part of this crop: fruit of the poisoned tree.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].