Florida gubernatorial candidate linked to Dream Defenders, with ties to Palestinian terror group
By Jackson Richman
(JNS) Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate running for governor of Florida, has associated with the radical left-wing group Dream Defenders, whose founder, Phillip Agnew, has ties to Ahmad Abuznaid, a supporter of the U.S.-designated terrorist group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
This development comes amid Gillum’s opponent, Rep. Ron DeSantis, attacking the Democrat in a TV campaign ad for having“antisemites around him,” such as welcoming the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) during the Florida Muslim Capitol Day in 2016, an annual gathering of approximately 200 statewide Muslim leaders and activists.
Gillum promptly responded to DeSantis’s accusation by labeling the congressman as “unstable.”
In September 2014, Gillum posted a picture of himself and Agnew, along with the caption, “Could not be prouder of Phillip Agnew and [Miami City Commission Chairman] Keon Hardemon.”
Four years beforehand, Gillum wished Abuznaid, a co-founder of Dream Defenders, a happy birthday on Facebook.
During a Democratic gubernatorial primary forum, Gillum gave a shout-out to Dream Defenders, citing their demonstration at the Florida State Capitol building in July 2013 in response to the acquittal of neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old African-American Trayvon Martin.
“There are two of us here on this stage from Tallahassee, and I was proud to be the only one. When you all slept in for 30 days on the cold, hard marble floors of the state capitol, I was pleased and proud to sneak food into you every night so you could eat,” said Gillum. “To stand up for you and to stand beside you because you all have been standing in the gap on behalf of marginalized communities, shaking up the political process, having politicians across this state run scared because they are afraid of your power.
“And I hope you keep at it, good luck,” he added.
Race for key battleground state heats up
The accusations against the Gillum come as the race for governor of the key battleground state heats up as the November elections near. According to the latest RealClearPolitics average, Gillum has a 4.5 percentage point lead over DeSantis in a state with a high percentage of the Jewish residents.
The campaign has also drawn national attention. Gillum has been the favorite of progressive wing of the Democratic Party backed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. DeSantis, a three-term congressman and Iraq War veteran, has been a fervent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump. He has strongly backed the president’s pro-Israel record.
However, the DeSantis campaign has made headlines as well. The candidate has been accused of accepting $20,000 from a pro-Israel Republican donor who tweeted that President Obama was a“MUSLIM n*gger.” Although the campaign denounced the rhetoric, it returned all but $2,000 of the contribution.
Meanwhile, controversial left-wing megadonor George Soros, who has funded anti-Israel groups such as Breaking the Silence , B’Tselem, Yesh Din and al-Haq, has contributed $1.2 million toGillum’s PAC.
The Dream Defenders, founded in 2012 and whose members volunteered and fundraised for Gillum’s primary campaign, advocates for the anti-Israel narrative, including the BDS movement, exemplifying the trend of antisemitism in the United States.
The organization has labeled Israel as a “continued settler colonial project” whose treatment of the Palestinians is similar to an “apartheid” nation. Without acknowledging Hamas frequently launching rockets from schools and other civilian centers from Gaza into Israel, while using women and children as human shields, Dream Defenders has accused Israel of developing“its latest military weaponry by attacking the civilian population of Gaza.”
Agnew, whose name is now Umi Selah, has participated in multiple trips to the disputed territories over the past few years, led by Abuznaid, who claimed that these delegations are to “build real relationships with those on the ground leading the fight for liberation.”
During a January 2015 trip, Dream Defenders met with OmarBarghouti, founder of the BDS movement, and Diana Buttu, who served in the Palestine Liberation Organization during the Second Intifada in the early 2000s, when the PLO perpetrated attacks against Israelis on buses, and in restaurants and other public places. The delegation also met with artistAyed Arafah in the Dheisheh Refugee Camp, which is recognized as a PFLP camp.
“Andrew Gillum’s association with the Dream Defenders, a group that views Israel as an apartheid state and glorifies the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is deeply disturbing,” Stephen Lawson, communications director for Ron DeSantis, told JNS. “Mayor Gillum has said himself that he ‘could not be prouder’ of Phillip Agnew, the co-founder of Dream Defenders.
“Ron DeSantis will continue to fight for Israel and stand up to antisemites,” said Lawson. “Apparently, Andrew Gillum will not.”
However, a Gillum campaign spokesman accused the DeSantis campaign of desperation in its latest attacks.
“There Ron DeSantis goes again, lying to voters in a desperate attempt to save his campaign,” a campaign spokesperson told JNS. “Ron DeSantis is running from his record of voting to take away pre-existing condition protections for Floridians and more devastating revelations about his campaign’s troubling ties to white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
“Fortunately, the people of Florida are rejecting the Trump-DeSantis brand of politics and are rallying behind Mayor Gillum’s vision of a state,” continued the spokesperson, “where health care is affordable, education is funded, and wages are rising.”
CAP: Tallahassee mayor and Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum. Credit: Facebook via Gillum campaign.