Democrats in Congress are distancing themselves from a Capitol Hill briefing that will advocate for economic boycotts against Israel, as the eventgarners public attention but the lawmaker or lawmakers sponsoring it have not identified themselves.
A source in Congress with access to the event room reservation told THE WEEKLY STANDARD Monday that Texas congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is the event sponsor. When contacted for comment, the congresswoman’s office denied that charge.
“She is not the sponsor of it,” said Abiola Afolayan, who maintains the congresswoman’s foreign affairs portfolio.
“We are not the ones putting on the event,” she added. “I’m actually concerned because we’re not involved in this.”
The group hosting the event, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, hung up the phone after telling TWS they could not “confirm or deny” that Congresswoman Jackson Lee was sponsoring the event.
“We cannot confirm anything,” an official at the organization said. “We don’t give out that information.”
Jackson Lee’s office directed TWS to California congresswoman Barbara Lee’s office, saying that the two are often confused.
“The Congresswoman will not be hosting that event,” the latter Lee’s office told TWS.
A number of administrators on Capitol Hill refused to disclose the name of the lawmaker sponsoring the briefing, telling TWS that it is the lawmaker’s decision whether or not to maintain anonymity.
Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison, a prominent critic of Israel, also denied being linked to the event.
Ellison’s office told TWS that the congressman is “not participating.”
“I honestly don’t know a lot about the event,” the staffer said.
Ellison was one of three pro-Palestine activists appointed by Bernie Sanders to the Democratic Platform Drafting Committee, alongside Arab American Institute founder Jim Zogby and professor Cornel West, both of whom have voiced approval of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.
The “first-of-its-kind” pro-BDS briefing, to be held Friday, will feature a panel of “actual practitioners” of the movement, who will discuss “what the movement is about, why certain corporations and institutions are targeted for BDS actions, and the goals of the BDS movement.”