Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has aligned himself with several prominent anti-Semitic organizations known for promoting boycotts of Jewish goods and individuals, fueling questions about how the Democratic candidate would handle issues of import to the state's large pro-Israel community.
Gillum, who is riding a progressive a wave of young Democrats highly critical of Israel, is running against Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a prominent Israel supporter. The Democrat has a history of working with several organizations promoting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, an anti-Semitic movement that seeks to wage economic and political warfare on the Jewish state.
Gillum's open association with these organizations is raising questions in the pro-Israel community, particularly as U.S. states seek to slash ties with BDS organizations and prevent taxpayer funds from supporting these movements. While Gillum has committed to "push back against anti-Israel efforts, like BDS," he has not distanced himself from several organizations leading the charge.
DeSantis, meanwhile, has positioned himself firmly against the BDS movement and is the co-author of legislation that will protect American businesses from being pressured into backing Israel boycotts. The issue is likely to be raised with both candidates as the gubernatorial contest heats up in a state with many Jewish voters.
Gillum could face tough questions about his associations with several anti-Israel groups that support boycotts and have ties to individuals convicted of committing terror acts against Israel.
On such group, Dream Defenders, has publicly endorsed Gillum, describing him as one of the "most progressive" candidates in the country.
Gillum has touted the organization in public remarks, saying he is "pleased and proud" to be endorsed by it.
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 routinely criticizes Israel for perpetuating what it describes as a "genocide" of the Palestinians and 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."