Cori Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist and supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), caused a historical upset yesterday in the US primary elections. The 44-year-old nurse, who was once homeless, ousted a ten-term political veteran and a keen supporter of the Zionist state, William Lacy Clay.
In a closely fought election, Bush defeated Clay by three percentage points, gathering 49 percent of the votes to Clays 46 percent to become the Democrat candidate for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District in this year’s US elections. The seat is traditionally held by the Democrats.
Yesterday’s result was a major reversal of 2018 when the two candidates went head to head. Bush, who was endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders, attempted to unseat Clay but lost by 20 points.
Cori Bush rose to prominence after the 2014 Ferguson uprising. She came under attack for her Palestine advocacy, but her campaign didn't back down. Instead they said Bush "stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people just as they have stood in solidarity with Black Americans" pic.twitter.com/TVb289mWX0
— IMEU (@theIMEU) August 5, 2020
Clay’s election campaign has come under sharp criticism. In a last-ditch effort to boost his support in the Jewish community, the 64-year-old Clay circulated campaign literature which has been denounced as an attempt to smear Bush, as it highlighted her support for BDS, accused her of having an “anti-Israel agenda” and drawing attention to her work alongside Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour.
Instead of going on the defensive by expressing support for Israel, as is normally the case when a candidate is attacked in this manner, Bush doubled down in her support for the Palestinian cause.
“Cori Bush has always been sympathetic to the BDS movement, and she stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people, just as they have stood in solidarity with Black Americans fighting for their own lives,” said a statement released by her team.
— al whit (@soitiz) July 13, 2020
Pro-Israel groups are likely to view Clay’s defeat with some trepidation. He has been a strong supporter of Israel. In 2019 he was one of the overwhelming majority of Democratic House members who endorsed a resolution that condemned the BDS movement. “My vote stands for the principle that no matter how divided our politics, the protection and support of our ally Israel is a bipartisan trust and should remain as such,” he said at the time.
“The good news from Washington is that, despite Trump’s support for Israel, an incremental but lasting structural change is taking place among Democratic Party supporters throughout the country,” Palestinian journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle Ramzy Baroud wrote in a recent article.
“Even Israel’s traditional hold over the country’s Jewish communities is faltering — and quickly so,” Baroud added.
(Palestine Chronicle, MEMO, Social Media)